Arkadiusz Milik said he "didn't expect it to be so easy" as he scored twice in AFC Ajax's 3-0 win at Legia Warszawa, whose boss Henning Berg was impressed by the Polish striker.
Article top media content
• "I didn't expect it to be so easy," says Ajax's Polish striker Arkadiusz Milik
• Two-goal striker does not "feel any remorse" about eliminating Polish champions
• Frank de Boer "quite surprised" at the manner of his side's victory
• Legia boss Henning Berg says of Milik: "Poland can be proud of having such great player"
• Follow Friday's round of 16 draw on UEFA.com, with live streaming from 13.00CET
AFC Ajax's Polish striker Arkadiusz Milik collected an early birthday present as he scored twice in a 3-0 win against Legia Warszawa to propel his side through to the UEFA Europa League round of 16.
Milik – who scored the only goal in the first leg – turns 21 on Saturday and said before the match: "It would be good to go through as my birthday is just two days after the match, and this kind of gift is very welcome." The Polish international can only hope that another wish comes true. "After we drew Legia, I tweeted that I wanted to come to our capital twice in this Europa League season: to face Legia and to play in the final," he said some weeks ago.
During his time as a Górnik Zabrze player, Milik came up against Legia three times without scoring, but the Polish champions will be sick of the sight of him now. "To be honest, I didn't expect it to be so easy," he said after the second leg. "Legia did not really get at us today. We had everything under control. We scored two quick goals and that was the turning point. Legia had problems mounting attacks. We played some nice football and I hope it was a good game to watch on TV."
Legia fans aside, Polish viewers have been enjoying Milik's success since he arrived at Ajax on loan from Bayer 04 Leverkusen in the summer. The club's top league goalscorer this season with nine goals, he has also struck for the national team in three UEFA EURO 2016 qualifiers – including the landmark 2-0 win against neighbours, and world champions, Germany. However, the player being touted as the new Robert Lewandowski is not concerned who he scores against.
"I am glad I scored twice, but for me every goal is important," he explained. "Whether I score in the Europa League or against a fourth-division team [in a cup game], a goal is a goal. The most important thing is that we qualified and will participate in Friday's draw. There is no time to celebrate as we have a very important match against PSV Eindhoven on Sunday. And of course, I did not feel any remorse at scoring against a team from my country."
Milik showed Legia no mercy, but Ajax boss Frank de Boer admitted to feeling a little sorry for his opposite number. "I did not expect such an easy qualification," he said. "I am quite surprised we scored three goals in Warsaw as Legia are a strong team. I feel a bit sorry for my colleague, Henning Berg, but there is no room for sentiment in sport. We want to go as far as possible in the Europa League, but this task will be extremely difficult, as there are only very good teams left."
Legia boss Berg knows that no one will be looking forward to facing Ajax in the last 16 – especially with their young striker in such ruthless form. "We knew Milik was dangerous, but unfortunately we did not stop him," the Norwegian noted. "Poland can be proud of having such great player."