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Lazio not giving up the ghost just yet

Vladimir Petković insists "only after 180 minutes will we know who the better team are" as his S.S. Lazio side aim to battle back from two goals down against Fenerbahçe SK.

Lazio coach Vladimir Petković is backing his side to give Fenerbahçe a good run for their money
Lazio coach Vladimir Petković is backing his side to give Fenerbahçe a good run for their money ©AFP/Getty Images

That S.S. Lazio are up against it in their UEFA Europa League quarter-final is not news to Vladimir Petković, yet the coach hopes his side have it in them to overturn a 2-0 deficit against visiting Fenerbahçe SK.

It looked like Lazio might escape Istanbul with a first-leg draw after being reduced to ten men three minutes after half-time. However, two late goals tilted the tie firmly in Fenerbahçe's favour, not that Petković is giving up. "Only after 180 minutes we will have a definitive verdict about which side is better," said the 49-year-old.

Last Thursday's defeat was Lazio's first in the competition this season and Petković is eager that all the good work done so far is not wasted. "I want us to impose our style of play and we want to score as soon as possible," he continued. "This year we have done many good things in this competition and we don't want to give up.

"Fenerbahçe have strong, quick forwards and many excellent players, but I'm more interested in the way my team play," Petković went on. "It's clear that our chances of progress are less than 50%, but we will fight until the end." Biancocelesti midfielder Antonio Candreva added: "After the Istanbul match we were still sure we could overturn the defeat and we still believe this."

The visitors are aiming to reach their first European semi-final and although Aykut Kocaman's team are "confident" after such a good result last week, he predicts his side still face "many obstacles". The match will be played behind closed doors, but Kocaman warned: "Italian teams are traditionally very strong and Galatasaray showed last night that even that if you've lost the first game, all is not lost."

Scorer of the second goal at the Şükrü Saracoğlu, Fenerbahçe forward Dirk Kuyt is eyeing a final appearance in his homeland. "I have a lot of friends who are waiting to see me in Amsterdam, but the most important thing is to be focused on this game," the Dutchman said. "Every game until the end of the season will be a final for us."