Saturday, December 16, 2017

Job done – Marcucci brushes off underwhelming Sevilla display

SoccerNews in UEFA Champions League 7 Dec 2017

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Ernesto Marcucci brushed off Sevilla’s underwhelming performance in Wednesday’s 1-1 draw at Maribor, content with the fact they did exactly what they needed to in securing Champions League progression.

The Spanish side needed a point to guarantee a spot in the last 16, but they found themselves trailing after just 10 minutes, as Marcos Tavares gave the home side an unlikely lead.

It ultimately turned out that Sevilla could have lost and still made it through, as Spartak Moscow were trounced 7-0 by Liverpool.

But a goalkeeping howler allowed Ganso to equalise in the second half and Marcucci – in charge as Eduardo Berizzo continues his cancer recovery – was not too concerned about the failure to win.

“Job done,” Marcucci told reporters. “The only vital thing was to qualify. Later we’ll analyse, with calm minds, what went wrong in the first 10 minutes.

“I’m happy with our progression. We will need to analyse what happened in the first half.

“I am not pessimistic. We didn’t have a brilliant game, but we had everything under control. We are satisfied that we will play [in the Champions League] in February. We’ll do our best to be at our prime then.

“We are now where we want to be. We can enjoy the moment and dream a little bit. The unusual results in the group are a testament to how unpredictable and hard this competition is.”

Maribor coach Darko Milanic was left ruing what might have been on the whole, as the Slovenians had their final taste of European football at least until next season.

“The difference between both halves is that we were really good in the counter-attacks in the first one,” he said.

“We lost a lot of stamina in the second half with their constant pressure. I waited with the substitutions because I saw that the team has control and stability.

“Our final position was expected by many, but we just needed a win against Spartak to still be in Europe. We were close.

“We set our ambitions a bit higher than most people expected.”

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