Rodrigo struck twice to give SL Benfica victory against AZ Alkmaar and told UEFA.com: "The important thing is we didn't relax," while Nemanja Gudelj and Esteban reflected on AZ's campaign.
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Rodrigo struck twice to give SL Benfica a 2-0 win against AZ Alkmaar for a 3-0 UEFA Europa League quarter-final aggregate victory and told UEFA.com: "The important thing is we didn't relax." Ljubomir Fejsa felt the goals on 39 and 71 minutes came at crucial times while Nemanja Gudelj and Esteban reflected on an impressive AZ campaign amid the pain of defeat.
Rodrigo, Benfica forward
I am very happy to score two goals and help Benfica reach the semi-finals but the most important thing is that we won. We had a 1-0 advantage from the first leg but we didn't relax tonight. We always respect our opponents and we played a very positive match. We could even have scored more goals. We are having a very good campaign in the competition and now we are going to do as we always do: deal with things on a match-by-match basis.
Ljubomir Fejsa, Benfica midfielder
We had a very good match, we gave our all. We played well and we managed to knock them out. The first goal came at a crucial moment but the second was important for us as well as after that we lowered the tempo. Before this game I had some pain and I played 60 minutes today. I went off because I was not feeling so good, but I am OK. We are thinking about the next match in the Portuguese league and then we have time to think about the Europa League.
Nemanja Gudelj, AZ midfielder
Benfica were favourites, and of course they are the better team. In the first half they didn't have a lot of chances – we were good, compact. Unfortunately we conceded a goal from our mistake and also the second goal – two times we had the ball, two times they scored. In the second half we had to do something so we pushed up a little more and some things went better, but when they scored the second the game was over for us.
We can be proud of ourselves because we got to the quarter-finals. We were the only Dutch team and a lot of teams would love to be at this stage. We lost against Benfica but that's normal. We had a good tournament as reaching the quarter-finals is not easy.
In my opinion Juventus are going to win the tournament because they have the best team of the four clubs still in the competition but it would be nice for Benfica to reach the final.
Esteban, AZ goalkeeper
My playing well means nothing as we didn't win. I leave disappointed because I'm a winner and I wanted to win. I was dreaming of the semi-finals but Benfica were the better side. If the result in Alkmaar had been 0-0 it would have been better for us here, but losing 1-0 made things difficult as we knew that Benfica are very strong at home. We hoped to score but it was Benfica who did so in the first half and I think that goal was a significant blow for us. People didn't expect much of AZ's participation in Europa League but in the end we had a worthy campaign.