Enzo Peréz said efficiency "and a great attitude" helped SL Benfica confirm their semi-final place, with Newcastle United FC's Hatem Ben Arfa and Yohan Cabaye magnanimous in defeat.
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After two UEFA Europa League quarter-final matches of high quality and intensity, it was understandable that not only SL Benfica, the victors, were satisfied. Newcastle United FC's Hatem Ben Arfa talked warmly of the "energy" his side received from an enthusiastic sell-out crowd, while Yohan Cabaye voiced his side's desire to return to the competition. Benfica's Enzo Peréz praised the opposition's drive but thought the Portuguese side's quality and attitude had seen them through.
Hatem Ben Arfa, Newcastle midfielder
It's a disappointment. We played a good match and in the second half we created a lot of chances. We can have a few regrets given the way we played in the second half. It was really a huge atmosphere and like always here, it was magnificent. We have great supporters and they really give us energy.
I'm really happy to be back [after injury] and I hope all goes well between now and the end of the season. Benfica are a great team with very good players with great technical skills, and they really impressed me.
Yohan Cabaye, Newcastle midfielder
After the first match we knew we had to stage a classic comeback, which isn't easy against a great team. But the plan was to not concede quickly and to stay in the match as long as possible. We led 1-0 and I think we put them in a bit of trouble. They were a bit nervous when it was 1-0.
Sadly we couldn't score the second goal that would have allowed us to qualify. They're a team of great quality and I think they'll go on and win their domestic championship, but we did some good things over the two games. It should give us confidence for the future and the desire to return to this competition.
Enzo Peréz, Benfica midfielder
We played a great game. We knew Newcastle had great players, and we've knocked out a great team. In the second half it was obvious that Newcastle were going to push forward a little more, and we were pleased to have the extra breathing space that the two-goal lead gave us. Fortunately we managed a positive result.
I think we showed efficiency and great character, and a great attitude. Sometimes you have to play, sometimes you have to battle. Of course it's going to be difficult in the semi-finals whoever we get. We have an important semi-final in the Portuguese Cup first, and then we'll think about the Europa League afterwards.