Sporting Lisbon coach Jorge Jesus insisted his team were superior to CSKA Moscow “over the two legs” despite missing out on a spot in the UEFA Champions League group stage to the Russian club.
Having won the first leg in Lisbon 2-1 last week, Jesus’ men had looked on track to win their play-off against CSKA when Teofilo Gutierrez slotted his shot from a tight angle in the first half.
But three minutes into the second half, Seydou Doumbia levelled the second leg for CSKA when he bundled home a loose ball, while the Ivory Coast forward made it 3-3 on aggregate in the 72nd minute from Ahmed Musa’s pass.
Musa struck the winner in the 85th minute but Jesus remained convinced Sporting could hold their heads high.
“We started very well, especially the first 30 minutes – we controlled the match, scored a goal and were 3-1 up on aggregate,” Jesus said, according to UEFA.com.
“Maybe we were not so sharp at the end of the first half, but everything was going well. Over the two legs, I can say that we were better than CSKA but perhaps our opponents wanted it more at the end of the game.
“We played a good, strong team; both sides had chances and really wanted to get into the group stage.”
Wednesday’s match was CSKA’s fourth in a row without keeping a clean sheet in Champions League qualifying, and coach Leonid Slutsky hailed his team’s character and ability to grind out results.
“We have had a very difficult Champions League qualification, but at this level that’s always the case,” he said.
“I am very pleased that we were able to turn the game around and we showed character, skill and will. I’m grateful to the lads for what they’ve done.”
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