AC Sparta Praha defeated ŠK Slovan Bratislava but spoke about the tough half-hour it took for David Lafata to break down a visiting side reflecting on early elimination.
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• Sparta win 4-0 to eliminate Slovan; they and Napoli now lead Young Boys by three points
• Vítězslav Lavička praises double goalscorer David Lafata as "the right leader"
• Sparta speak about the half hour it took to break Slovan down
• The visitors reflect on their European shortcomings
• Next games: Sparta Praha v Napoli, Slovan Bratislava v Young Boys (27 November)
Vítězslav Lavička, Sparta coach
I am really pleased not only by the convincing win but also by the performance that led us to it. We knew Slovan would defend carefully, it was not easy to find the openings in their organised formation. Two well-taken set pieces helped us, with the time we kept possession, and it cost Slovan a lot of energy. We capitalised on that and added two more goals.
David Lafata converts the good work of the whole team into goals, we are very happy to have him in the team. He is the right leader and captain, and sets a good example for his younger team-mates. I am pleased he fulfils the expectations connected to his transfer.
The result from Napoli pleased us, but there are still two more games in front of us that we will have to win to earn qualification. We are going to rely on the same qualities in our game that helped us to win against Slovan.
Ladislav Krejčí, Sparta midfielder
We are glad that we handled this game well shortly after losing an important match in Czech league against Plzeň. We wanted to rush into the game and I am happy that we chased victory.
It is great to score four goals and gain three points. We controlled the ball for most of the game, but it was very hard to get through Slovan's defence. We had to wait for our chance, which came after 30 minutes, and after the second goal everything went well for us. We knew that this game was extremely important for us and therefore we focused on it. Overall, we prepared well and managed to win.
It was a Europa League game, so we were very motivated. There were a lot of fans in the stands so I hope they all enjoyed this beautiful game. But it was not easy for us at all. Slovan played very well in the first 30 minutes. We have still two games left, but we all believe in qualification.
David Lafata, Sparta forward
We did not expect such a big win, but compared to the last game in Bratislava we scored twice in the opening half and that proved to be decisive.
Until the first goal we controlled the ball, but we could not overcome Slovan, who had a compact defence. The first goal broke their resistance. In such a game it is always about the first goal. Shortly after the first goal we doubled the lead and that moved us to an even better situation.
We still believe in qualification and we can gain it in the next game against Napoli. On the other hand, we know that the Italians are the toughest opponents in the group.
Erik Grendel, Slovan midfielder
We saw a big difference in the quality of both teams. We can dominate our league, but that is not enough for Europe. We could not score because we could not take control of the ball, our players made a lot of mistakes and Sparta always launched their combinations very quickly. We make individual mistakes ... then we cannot speak about attacking. Such a result does not paint a good picture of the Slovakian champions in Europe.
Richard Lásik, Slovan midfielder
We concede easy goals and score none – that is the main problem. I do not know if it is about fitness, but we will definitely have to step up during the winter break.
We could live with Sparta during the first 20 or 30 minutes, but then we conceded and it was very difficult for us to turn around the result – that's been the case throughout the season. Two goals down after the first half, we wanted to equalise but it was very disorganised from our side.
Jozef Chovanec, Slovan coach
I am tremendously disappointed. We gifted Sparta two goals within three minutes and it was all over. We cannot afford to do that at this level. We have to analyse our performance and keep trying to improve to avoid such ups and downs in our results. Both games against Sparta truly showed us the state our team is currently in.