Gent head coach Hein Vanhaezebrouck praised his players’ “phenomenal” achievement after the Belgians reached the last 16 of the Champions League for the first time.
A 2-1 victory over Zenit on Wednesday wrapped up Gent’s progression, as Laurent Depoitre and Danijel Milicevic scored the goals that ended Zenit’s 100 per cent record in this season’s tournament. Artem Dzyuba netted for the visitors.
No Belgian side has made it beyond the first round of the competition since Anderlecht featured in the second group stage in 2000-01 and Vanhaezebrouck poured compliments on his squad for their efforts so far this term.
“What these players [have done] in one and a half years of work, that’s phenomenal,” he said.
“My job is to get started with this team and get the most out of it. But they do it – not you, not me. As a trainer, you are just a small pawn once the competition begins.”
The Gent boss reserved special mention for Nana Asare, the hosts’ wide midfielder, saying: “It was very difficult. Some boys did not reach their best level, but there are other players who take their responsibility. Asare was phenomenal, truly phenomenal.
“Moses Simon is the man of the match, but Asare has played for two. Unbelievable.”