Valeriy Gazzaev, CSKA coach paid tribute to his players after they came from behind to defeat Sporting in last night’s UEFA Cup final.
The Portuguese side looked to be cruising at their Estádio José Alvalade home after Rogério’s gave them the lead at the interval.
But inspired by the impressive Daniel Carvalho, CSKA launched a second-half comeback and goals from Aleksei Berezoutski, Yuri Zhirkov and Vágner Love gave them a well deserved win.
“I can say only one thing – my players are heroes.” said the CSKA coach.
“They have done the impossible. From the very first days in the UEFA Cup they confidently and purposefully went on to this victory.
“I’d like to thank and congratulate all the Russians who supported us and believed in us. This is a symbolic victory. Now every child in Russian youth football schools will know what to work for and what to dream about and will know those dreams can become true. This is a landmark victory for Russian football.
“It will give the nation the belief to go on and win more things at both club and international level. We found it tough in the first half but changed the midfield around in the second half and it seemed to do the trick.
Vágner Love, who scored CSKA’s third goal, could barely contain his delight.
“It is difficult to describe my feelings,” Love said.
“We have come such a long way – from the UEFA Champions League, where we took third place in the group, to the UEFA Cup final, which we have just won.
“I never thought that I could win UEFA Cup, especially given that I am just 20 years old. We managed to cope with the pressure of the home supporters, but still we played an awful first half. We took all our chances after the break and won thanks to that.
Daniel Carvalho, who was involved in all three CSKA goals and was later named Man of the Match, said that the team’s comeback indicated the strength of character in the side.
“I am neither surprised nor shocked by our win,” said Carvalho. “Playing in the final is only worthwhile if you win it – and I always firmly believed we could do this.
“At one point during the game the team realised the victory was slipping out of our hands and we could lose. And from that very moment we showed that we have a strong character and started to play the way we can.”