“It’s frustrating saving the penalty, and them still scoring. Scott Parker got a terrific challenge in, and I felt we were going to get the ball away, but it’s ricocheted to the guy behind, and he’s scored. It’s frustrating, but there’s not much you can do when that happens. However, I felt it was a very harsh decision. I was 10 yards away, and I’ve seen the replay as well. Steven has got his hand down the side of his body – it was ball to hand. The second goal gave them a bit of a lifeline. They didn’t have too many chances in the whole game, to be honest, but they got two away goals and they’ll be pretty positive about that. The second half was a bit of an anti-climax as we didn’t score any goals. Oba Martins had a chance to get his hat-trick, and had it been 5-2 it would probably have been game, set and match.’
“We were very flat against Middlesbrough at the weekend, and the manager just said to go out full steam ahead and get at them. Middlesbrough came here looking for a point, and they made it extremely difficult for us. But Alkmaar came to get away goals, and that resulted in us scoring a few goals ourselves. You just have to look at their last game against Fenerbahce, which was 5-5 on aggregate. We know they’re a team that are good going forward, and struggling at the back. They showed that they are going to cause us a few problems over there.
It’s very disappointing how they scored their second goal – we don’t think it was a penalty. Shay Given saved it and then Scott Parker made an unbelievable tackle, but it still ended up in the back of the net. It wasn’t to be, and straight after their penalty Oba’s had an unbelievable chance. I was there for a tap-in, but obviously he’s a striker and he was going for his hat-trick and you can’t really knock him. It would have been very pleasing to go there with a three-goal cushion, but we’d have taken that before the game started. To be three goals up was a fantastic start, but all credit to them. They showed their fighting qualities and got back into the game.’
“We are strong enough to finish the tie off and get through to the last eight. We have scored four times in the first leg. Then that gives us plenty of belief to score in the second leg too. Even if we score at least one goal it will make it even more difficult for them in the second leg. We have done well in the UEFA Cup and we want to keep that going. I am not surprised Alkmaar play such good football with Louis van Gaal in charge. He is a good manager and has managed Ajax and Barcelona so we have to be wary for the second leg. However, I still think we can do well.’
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