"We knew that the only result that would suit us was a win," said Fredy Montero after inspiring Sporting CP to a 4-2 win at Lokomotiv Moskva that keeps them in contention.
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After being humbled in Albania against Skënderbeu three weeks ago, Sporting CP are back in UEFA Europa League contention after an excellent display in winning 4-2 at Lokomotiv Moskva.
A draw would have booked Lokomotiv's progress at Sporting's expense, but although Maicon struck early for the hosts, Fredy Montero was one of many Sporting stars in Moscow, weighing in with a goal and two assists before half-time. He said his side came to Russia with a plan, which they executed to perfection.
"We knew the only result that would suit us was a win," Colombia forward Montero said. "We went onto the pitch with only one thought – to get the result we needed. We were well prepared for a difficult match. Even after we conceded, we were not deflated; we were excellent and got a deserved three points."
Key to the Lions' success was their ability to play at a high tempo. They pressed Lokomotiv high up the pitch, while the Russian team had no answer to their slick intricate passing and movement.
According to Bryan Ruiz, who scored a fine effort to put the visitors 2-1 in front, Jorge Jesus's side are continuing to evolve and gain in confidence. "I think we have enough stamina to play like this more often, while the team is also progressing," the Costa Rica attacker said.
"We have been playing at a high tempo in our last few matches. I am sure we are a team that plays at a high level. Today our young players showed how good they are and we need to keep playing at this level."
On 10 December, Sporting welcome Group H leaders Beşiktaş knowing victory will take the Portuguese club through – and could even give them first place if Lokomotiv, who would advance with a draw, do not win away to eliminated Skënderbeu.
"Now everything depends on us," Ruiz added. "We are at home against Beşiktaş and we need to win. It won't be easy, but we will be playing in front of our supporters and this is an advantage we will try to exploit."