"Physically we were quite tired," explained midfielder Shamil Lahiyalov after FC Anji Makhachkala booked a last-32 spot by seeing off an Udinese Calcio side now focused on Serie A.
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FC Anji Makhachkala midfielder Shamil Lahiyalov praised his side for reaching the UEFA Europa League knockout stage despite suffering from fatigue after the Russian club beat Udinese Calcio 2-0 to wrap up their progress. "Physically, we were quite tired," explained the 33-year-old, while Udinese midfielder Emmanuel Badu was left to "concentrate on what lies ahead" after his team's Group A elimination.
Shamil Lahiyalov, Anji midfielder
Udinese are not the sort of side that are easy to beat as they are an experienced outfit. As a team, we like to play an attractive passing game. Physically, we were quite tired and not in the same sort of shape that we were at the start of the season, as the same players tend to play week in, week out. This is when set pieces really help us, and it was from one of these that we managed to score the first goal.
If I am being honest, I really hoped Udinese would try to play more attacking football, especially as a draw would not have been good enough for them. However, they decided to sit very deep and just try to defend and, as everyone knows, Italian sides are very good at this. It was very difficult to break them down. I think our opponents were looking to hit us on the counterattack, but they only managed to create a couple of opportunities.
Oleg Shatov, Anji midfielder
It certainly wasn't easy for us today as this is the UEFA Europa League and this was one of the deciding games in the group. We managed to complete the task that was put in front of us and I think we managed to play some attractive football.
We didn't manage to create that many chances though. [Coach] Guus Hiddink told us at half-time that if we continued playing the way we were then we would definitely score eventually. The main thing was not to concede a goal, as that's the key to winning European games, and thankfully we managed to achieve that. We created chances and were able to take them. We did that at the right time and, as a result, were victorious.
Emmanuel Badu, Udinese midfielder
It was a very difficult game and we played well in the first half, but we just gave them two goals. The group was very difficult, but now we have to look ahead to the Italian league because we are out of the UEFA Europa League. We didn't disgrace ourselves, though, because we were in a very difficult group. We wanted to win this game because we had four points and our final match is against Liverpool at home, so this would have helped us. But unfortunately we didn't get the result we wanted and that's football. Now we just have to concentrate on what lies ahead.
We didn't allow Anji many opportunities and I think the game was very even. It wasn't too disappointing to concede the first goal because everyone knows that Christopher Samba is very good in the air. It wasn't anyone's fault – things like this just happen. We have done a great job over the last two years, we just have to look forward.