"We changed our structure and attitude," said coach João Tralhão after SL Benfica recovered for a quarter-final win at Manchester City FC, Patrick Vieira proud in defeat.
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João Tralhão hailed his SL Benfica team's powers of recovery after they came from behind to beat Manchester City FC 2-1 to book an 11 April UEFA Youth League semi-final against Real Madrid CF in Nyon.
His side overturned a 1-0 half-time deficit via goals from Gonçalo Guedes and Estrela – and some superb saves from goalkeeper Thierry Graça who was "delighted" to come through Benfica's toughest test to date. As for home coach Patrick Vieira, there was a sense of pride at his team's performance on an evening when they learned how "football can be cruel".
João Tralhão, Benfica coach
It was two different halves. In the first half City were much better, they were able to play the way they wanted to and we didn't do what we had set out to do. We had to do a lot of defending and our attacking game wasn't as effective as we'd have liked.
The second half was completely different, we felt we couldn't let City play their football so comfortably. We changed our structure and our attitude. In the first half we tried to cut the lines and force them to play wide, but they got the goal. In the second, we pressed them better, didn't let them come out and tried to force mistakes. We got the goals and our confidence grew as they became less confident. Only a great team like ours, a team that worked hard, ran hard and understood what they had to do, could beat a super side like City. Congratulations to my players, they were perfect.
In the second half we found ourselves, and Thierry was fantastic just like all the other players. I don't think I want to single him out, I want to include him in what was a big team effort. In Switzerland we want to show our quality, that we belong at the top level. Real Madrid will be a really difficult opponent.
Thierry Graça, Benfica goalkeeper
It was a very tough game for the team – our toughest game so far. It's not easy playing away against a team like City but thankfully we stuck together and came out on top. In the second half we played more like a team and were able to play our football. I am delighted [with my own performance] – it was a good game. It was hard work but if we carry on working like this, we'll get where we want.
Patrick Vieira, Manchester City coach
I am really proud. Today we played a good game. It is never easy when you play a good team but I am really pleased because we tried to play in the right way and that's why we're a little bit frustrated, because there was an opportunity for us to win the game and go to the semi-finals.
You have to give credit to Benfica – the way they played in the first half and the way they played the second was completely different. They put us under pressure in the second half. We created some chances but football can be cruel if you don't score the second goal. It was a fantastic finish from Seko [Fofana for the opening goal] and in the first half we played some really good football.
In the second we got a little bit tired and Benfica put us under more pressure and it became more difficult for us. But we showed courage and desire to come back and create chances in the last ten minutes and their goalkeeper was fantastic.