Gent coach Hein Vanhaezebrouck has expressed his pride and happiness after Nigeria’s Moses Simon and his team-mates sealed a place in the round of 16 by ending Zenit’s 100% Group H record with a 2-1 victory.
Gent went into half-time leading through Laurent Depoitre’s fine header after a vibrant 45 minutes performance. Artem Dzyuba levelled but with Lyon beating Valencia -Gent’s rivals for second, Danijel Milicevic’s clincher started the celebrations 12 minutes from time.
Hein in a pre-match interview had spoken about his players’ confidence, and that was evident in the early stages as Gent took the game to Zenit with surprise starter Moses Simon at the fore with one of his threatening runs down the left that prompted the opener.
The Nigerian international cleverly delayed his cross, drawing the block then whipping in a ball that Depoitre, opting for precision over power, majestically guided into the far corner. Vanhaezebrouck after the game said;
“Our start was good. Then we saw why Zenit are the group winners – they’re a very clever team who play good football. We defended very well, our attacking line was also OK, but the midfield had it very difficult.
“Then there was Nana Asare, who pulled the whole team through by balancing things out. Moses Simon was the deserved man of the match, but Asare was just as influential. We knew, because of the situation in Valencia, that a victory was not necessary but I am very pleased we won.
“If you saw the reaction of Villas-Boas when they scored their equaliser, it was if they had won the cup. That shows how eager they were to get 18 points. Winning a match like this means I am very proud and happy for my players.” The Gent boss told UEFA.com
Debutants Gent are the first Belgian side to feature among the last 16 of the UEFA Champions League since Anderlecht contested the second group stage in 2000/01.