FC Anji Makhachkala goalkeeper Vladimir Gabulov paid credit to Newcastle United FC after a hard-fought 0-0 draw in Moscow, saying the Magpies made things "very difficult".
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Steven Taylor praised his side's game plan after Newcastle United FC defended resolutely to leave Moscow with a creditable 0-0 draw in their UEFA Europa League round of 16 first leg against FC Anji Makhachkala. Despite being on the back foot for long spells, the Magpies were rarely threatened and home goalkeeper Vladimir Gabulov admitted that Alan Pardew's team made things "very difficult" for the hosts ahead of their tough trip to St James' Park next week.
Vladimir Gabulov, Anji goalkeeper
Newcastle were very well organised and this is exactly what we expected. They made life very difficult for us, as we were not able to play our game. We found it very hard to break them down. We did manage to create a couple of scoring opportunities, but unfortunately we were not able to take them.
I do not think we were guilty of being too cautious in the first half, but we knew that we had to avoid conceding a goal at all costs as this is a two-legged tie and we had to make sure that we did not let in a goal at home.
Andrei Eschenko, Anji defender
It is a decent result for us and for our opponents. I would not say that we were bad in the first half; the problem was that we gave the initiative to Newcastle. We wanted to see what they would do and in the last ten minutes they put us under pressure, but we knew this would happen.
Newcastle are a good side and they did not play badly today and we were also happy with the result. If things go our way in the return leg then we can make it through to the quarter-finals. I think they will play a similar type of game and both teams will look to defend and hit each other on the counterattack.
James Perch, Newcastle defender
I think we put in a great performance and we could have won the game as we had a couple of chances that we should have taken. We would have loved to have got an away goal, but we will be happy to go back to St James' Park with this result. It was a great defensive display by the team and Rob Elliot made a couple of great saves.
They are a great attacking force and Samuel Eto'o is a world-class player, and I think Willian showed glimpses when he was on and it was a shame that he had to go off. They played well and they kept the ball, especially in the second half, but we fought very well.
Steven Taylor, Newcastle defender
I think we played very well and controlled the game and the game plan worked. No matter what happens, we know we need to win the game at home and the performance that we had today shows we can do this. Our team shape was spot on from front to back and I thought that we defended very well. With the players that Anji have got, we knew that we had to stop them. Samuel Eto'o is some player and we knew that we could not give them time or space as they will punish you.