Astana coach Stanimir Stoilov said he was so impressed with his team’s draw against Benfica on Wednesday, he would have accepted defeat.
Stoilov’s Astana played out a 2-2 draw with Benfica, who rallied from two goals down in the Group C encounter.
Patrick Twumasi and Marin Anicic put the Kazakhs in control the half-hour mark before Mexico international Raul Jimenez netted twice to help the Portuguese champions draw level away from home.
Despite giving up a two-goal advantage, Stoilov was proud of the performance, which he felt proved they were worthy of a place in the elite competition, despite languishing at the foot of the group.
“I think today was a really good performance from us,” he said.
“We scored goals and did everything we could to win, though we’re disappointed not to have scored a third to secure the victory.
“However, even if we had lost I would have been happy because the team showed they can play football at the highest European level.”
Winless Astana remain bottom of Group C but maintain hopes of securing a Europa League spot by closing the gap on third-placed Galatasaray to one point heading into the final matchday next month.
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