Khomukha and Gudelj end opening day satisfied

Dmitri Khomukha labelled Dzhamaldin Khodzhaniyazov a "set-piece master" after the defender inspired Russia past Ukraine, while Croatia's Ivan Gudelj ended the day pleased despite a draw.

Khomukha and Gudelj end opening day satisfied
Khomukha and Gudelj end opening day satisfied ©

Russia's Dmitri Khomukha ended the opening day of the 2013 UEFA European Under-17 Championships as Group B's only victorious coach, and the satisfied former PFC CSKA Moskva set-piece specialist hailed his central defender Dzhamaldin Khodzhaniyazov, who swung the game decisively in his side's favour with a free-kick to be proud of. In the section's later game, Croatia were unable to find a way past Italy, despite coach Ivan Gudelj believing they were "closer to victory".

Dmitri Khomukha, Russia coach
We are very happy, of course. We had problems before the tournament, but the guys who were handed the chance in these conditions took it well. I am glad for them. Set pieces always play their role in big tournaments like this. Teams can play well and change tactics, it might be an even game with good defending, so it is always a plus to have a set-piece master. If the team cannot take their chances and the set-piece master [Khodzhaniyazov] finally does the trick, we are all happy. First of all, we have to improve our defending as we had problems in this aspect in the first half. But we will sort these issues out and be better.

Olexandr Holovko, Ukraine coach
Of course we are all disappointed. It is a very unpleasant result. It was a good first half, but there were big problems in the second. It is good that we have time to make amends. There are two matches ahead of us, two days of work before the next game. We will sort things out. We have to work on ourselves, do things that we can do. Today maybe we put ourselves under pressure, maybe it was overconfidence. It is a new experience for us; these players are playing in a European championship for the first time, though having said that we have had two matches against Russia before.

Ivan Gudelj, Croatia coach

Italy are an excellent team and we knew that. They are very strong from free-kicks and corners and they have strong players in attack. But we have more creative players than Italy and we knew how to set up our tactics against them. From the counterattacks we had four big chances – we were closer to victory if you look at the number of chances and that is why I am sorry we did not win.

Unfortunately, in football it is common that if you don't score from your chances you can easily concede a goal and lose the match. In the last minutes, when Italy had a couple of corners, I was afraid that we could concede a goal. It happens in football. But, after all is said and done, this is the fair result, although we were closer to victory. Italy did not have outstanding chances, except perhaps a few situations after our mistakes. Now, we have to prepare for the next match.

Daniele Zoratto, Italy coach
We knew all about how strong Croatia are. We feel they are the strongest side in the group so we knew it was going to be difficult. We had to try to deal with their strengths, which are their physical and technical strength, with some players who have already shown they have quality at senior level. So I have to say that my lads played an excellent game in terms of their intensity and tactical awareness, causing some problems to this Croatia side, who really are a great side. We are satisfied. Of course it is not easy because, at this level, all games are difficult, but for us, it was important not to lose, at least against Croatia.