Cardoso: “We failed to manage the game”
AEK head coach Miguel Cardoso acknowledged the Athenians were well below their best in the second leg of the UEFA Europa League third qualifying round, while Universitatea Craiova manager Corneliu Papura expressed his pride.
Boasting a healthy 2:0 advantage from the first leg in Romania, AEK began this game in confident fashion, taking the lead through Petros Mantalos. However, a poor second half saw Antoni Ivanov equalise for Craiova, and AEK had to rely on Vasilis Barkas to protect their aggregate advantage.
Miguel Cardoso wasn’t happy with the performance: “In the second half, we failed to manage the game because of the pressure applied by Craiova,” said Cardoso. “We made simple mistakes and couldn’t find the space. We were lacking intelligence in the second half. During the opening 45 minutes, we could have scored a lot of goals, but then we didn’t play in the right manner. We had forgotten that the opponents were playing for their pride. We have to remember that matches last 90 minutes.”
“Trabzonspor have a strong roster,” continued the Portuguese manager. “It will be two very difficult matches against them. In my opinion, the chances of qualification are 50/50. We must play at our best for the entire match. Today, had the fans been by our side, I think that our performance would have been different. We needed them to pick us up. Marko Livaja didn’t like being substituted? I didn’t see his reaction. Did we underestimate Craiova? No, but I agree that our performance level was below 100%.”
Universitatea Craiova boss Corneliu Papura felt his team should have scored more goals: “We could have scored four goals today, but I can say that we tried really hard. I also want to express my annoyance with the fact we weren’t given a clear penalty. I am proud of my players, and I’m pleased with their performance.”
AEK defender Stratos Svarnas also shared his emotions when speaking to Nova Sports: “To be honest, we probably had the 2:0 scoreline from the first match in our minds,” revealed the centre-back. “This affected us. We took the lead, but we couldn’t play in the manner we wanted. The second half saw us make too many mistakes. Maybe it’s for the best that this happened today, rather than these errors being made in a different match. Craiova had nothing to lose. We must improve against the next opponents.”