Players of both sides acknowledged how Valencia CF's tactical expertise ensured a 5-2 aggregate defeat of AZ Alkmaar, with Jordi Alba paying tribute to the hosts' "brilliant fans".
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Players of both teams acknowledged how Valencia CF's tactical excellence helped them overcome AZ Alkmaar 5-2 on aggregate, with goalscorer Jordi Alba adding how the hosts' "brilliant fans" inspired them to a 4-0 victory at Mestalla.
Jordi Alba, Valencia winger
This was a very good performance, particularly after a run in which we haven't been doing so well. Not only was the winning margin big, but we deserved it. When you play that well and create lots of chances the best thing is to convert so many of them. It rates as a very complete team performance and one which I'm happy with, too.
The pre-match briefing told us that their two central midfielders would leave us space and that we needed to take advantage of that – particularly in the space between the back four and the midfield. We did that very well.
The fans were brilliant from the start tonight, right behind the team. I hope that our supporters will be even more motivated for the next tie here because it's the semi-final. We respect the fans when they express their disappointment, but if we play like this we know they will back us and help us to go on in the Europa League.
Adil Rami, Valencia defender
We know Atlético Madrid very well and we know how hard the forthcoming tie will be. I know that two years ago Atlético knocked us out of this competition and it means it'll be a really good challenge – all the better if we manage to gain revenge.
Dirk Marcellis, AZ defender
Jordi Alba is a really good footballer but we knew that before the match. He made it especially tough for the whole team with a goal and an assist, but all of Valencia's creative players played well. We had a really difficult game. Sometimes we kept the ball well but their quality players created chances and scored four of them.
The problem was that the first two goals, from corners, were given away far too easily. We gave space away once we were chasing the game and they took full advantage because they are quick and effective on the counter. Generally, we've done a good job in Europe, but it's always hard when you concede four like tonight.