Coach Dragan Jović called FK Sarajevo's success against PFC Levski Sofia "a great victory for our club, our city, our country", with his opposite number Ilian Iliev concluding: "It is a disaster."
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Coach Dragan Jović spoke of "a great victory for our club, our city, our country" after FK Sarajevo eliminated PFC Levski Sofia to edge within sight of the UEFA Europa League play-offs.
Trailing 1-0 from the first leg in Sofia, early goals from Said Husejinović and Asmir Suljić flipped the tie in the Bosnian side's favour, though the 2005/06 UEFA Champions League contenders – and UEFA Cup quarter-finalists – changed the mood again before half-time with a Basile de Carvalho penalty. As it stood, Ilian Iliev's side were winning the tie on away goals, but former SV Werder Bremen midfielder Husejinović set up a third qualifying round tie against FK Zeta, scoring on 62 minutes to make it 3-1 on the night.
"We started brilliantly in the first half," said coach Jović. "But after scoring two great goals we lost our concentration. We made a lot of mistakes, and Levski punished us. But after half-time we played well again, and this is a great victory for our club, our city, our country. This is gift for our fans. They helped us a lot. What can we promise for the next game? Well, we will fight again until the last seconds. We have already pulled off an unbelievable result and will enjoy our next matches."
Goalscorer Suljić, 20, added: "We were up against it after we went 2-0 up and Levski could have scored plenty of times. We were lucky that half-time came when it did. We talked a lot about our tactics for the second half and we promised to give it all we had on the pitch. Full credit to Husejinović who scored a great winning goal. We will be celebrating this victory for a couple of days, for sure. If we play like that in our upcoming matches, we could even earn a place in the group stage."
Montenegrin side Zeta stand between the Bordo-bijeli (Maroon-Whites) and a place in the play-off draw on 10 August. Bosnia and Herzegovina has never had a club in the group stage of a major European club tournament, but Sarajevo – who won two domestic titles since independence to match the two they won in the days of the former Yugoslavia – could be in line to break that duck, despite only finishing fourth in the domestic league in 2011/12. They eliminated Hibernians FC of Malta in the first qualifying round.
Levski's exit, meanwhile, concluded a miserable evening for Bulgaria, whose four European representatives this season have all bowed out. Coach Iliev took the blame for Levski's performance. "I am guilty of this," he said. "Why? I have spent a lot of time with these players but obviously couldn't get it through to them that this was an important game. There is a bad atmosphere – no one is looking each other in the eye. I have never seen anything like this. Of course I am disappointed. It is a disaster."