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Valverde counts Espanyol's blessings

Ernesto Valverde admitted RCD Espanyol owed a debt of gratitude to goalkeeper Gorka Iraizoz, not to mention the woodwork, after scraping through to the last four.

RCD Espanyol coach Ernesto Valverde admitted his side owed a debt of gratitude to goalkeeper Gorka Iraizoz, not to mention the woodwork, after they withstood a barrage of second-half pressure from SL Benfica to claim a goalless draw. Leading 3-2 from the first leg, it was enough to secure a place in the UEFA Cup semi-finals – much to Fernando Santos's frustration and amazement.

Ernesto Valverde, Espanyol coach
Gorka Iraizoz was the difference between the sides in this tie, not least his save to deny Nuno Gomes. We started better, [Walter] Pandiani hit the post but Benfica then took control and could have scored but unfortunately for them, the ball didn't want to go in. We have eliminated a great team in Benfica and, for me, the result is fair as although Benfica had chances, especially in second half, we could have decided the match on the counterattack.

Fernando Santos, Benfica coach
It is frustrating because we have missed a good chance to reach the semi-finals – we just could not get the ball into the net. The mood in the dressing room is one of disappointment. We dominated the second half. We had an incredible miss, hit the post twice and the play was all one way. We did enough to win, we were always the better side, but instead we now have to bounce back as we have six games remaining in the league.