Martins wants victory on Sunday, Khatskevich happy with Dynamo showing

Martins wants victory on Sunday, Khatskevich happy with Dynamo showing

After the 2:2 draw in the first leg of the UEFA Europa League Round of 32, Olympiacos’ Pedro Martins revealed his desire to beat AEK on Sunday, while Dynamo Kyiv boss Alyaksandr Khatskevich expressed his satisfaction with the game.

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Inside a sold-out Karaiskakis Stadium, Olympiacos made the perfect start against Dynamo, as Ahmed Hassan fired past Denys Boyko. However, after Konstantinos Fortounis hit the post from a tight angle, Vitaly Bulyalskyy fired in a vital away goal for the Ukrainian club. Gil Dias lashed a wonderful effort in from long range to hand Olympiacos another lead, but in the 89th minute, Benjamin Verbic’s scuffed attempt snuck beyond Jose Sa to snatch a hugely important Dynamo Kyiv equaliser.

Thrylos head coach Pedro Martins is now focused on getting back to winning ways against AEK in the Super League: “In the second half, we had a chance to increase the lead to 3:1, but Daniel Podence didn’t score,” stated Martins. “Nevertheless, the outcome of this tie will be decided over the course of the two games, not just this one. We have chances in order to advance to the next round. In recent matches, we have started to concede more goals, and this does worry me. The concentration of our players is affected in certain moments. This has to be corrected against AEK.

We have to beat AEK on Sunday. On many occasions this season, we have shown our quality when going through a difficult period, and we must do this again in the next match.”

For his part, Dynamo Kyiv manager Alyaksandr Khatskevich was satisfied with the performance in Piraeus, while stating that the tie is still evenly balanced: “Even when we went behind, our players never strayed from the game plan,” beamed the 45-year-old Belarusian coach. “Our understanding, organisation and movement was clear for all to see. At half time, we asked our players to play more aggressively, because at the start of the game we played too much at the back. We played at a good level today.

However, the outcome of this tie depends on the match in Kyiv. It’s 50/50. Why didn’t Tamas Kadar play? Yesterday, he trained here and told us that he’s not in a condition to play. We’ll see if he’s able to compete in Kyiv. Fran Sola? I am completely satisfied with his work, he tried hard for the team. We didn’t expect Olympiacos to make so many changes, but their approach is the responsibility of their coaching staff. The main thing is that our players played the football which we wanted to see.”

Olympiacos captain Konstantinos Fortounis feels that the Greeks are stronger and is hopeful of qualification: “Yes, Dynamo have good players, however I think that as a team, and individually, we are stronger. We will travel to Ukraine to qualify for the next phase. The coach didn’t give us instructions to focus on defence in the second half, but Dynamo protected possession and managed to score in the final minutes. It was a balanced game with one team playing better in the first half, and the other being superior in the second.”

Left-back Konstantinos Tsimikas doesn’t consider Dynamo Kyiv as favourites for progression: “Next Thursday is a final for us, we will travel there to achieve qualification. In Kyiv, we will do everything possible to make the next round. I don’t think that Dynamo are favourites. Both teams are strong, but as a whole, we are the better side.”

Benjamin Verbic, who scored the last gasp equaliser for the Ukrainians, enjoyed playing at the atmospheric Karaiskakis Stadium: “It’s very important that we managed to score a second goal at the end of the match. In the first half, we didn’t play very well, and Olympiacos scored twice. I loved the atmosphere at this stadium, the fans were great. Hopefully, we can repeat this atmosphere in Kyiv next week.”


by Shaun Nicolaides

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