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JUANDE: IT COULD HAVE BEEN BETTER

Posted on 14 February 2008  - 12:00

Juande Ramos insisted we should have left Slavia's Strahov Stadium with a healthier advantage than 2-1 from the first leg of our UEFA Cup Round of 32 tie.

Juande Ramos insisted we should have left Slavia's Strahov Stadium with a healthier advantage than 2-1 from the first leg of our UEFA Cup Round of 32 tie.

We clicked straight into gear on a freezing night in the Czech Republic. Dimitar Berbatov fired us into a fourth minute lead and Robbie Keane finished expertly for 2-0 on the half-hour mark.

It would have been more but for the heroics of home goalkeeper Martin Vaniak, who produced a string of saves out of the top drawer with Berbatov frustrated more than most - he was denied by a double save towards the end of the first half before a free-kick destined for the top corner was tipped over at full stretch.

However, out of the blue, Radek Cerny spilled a cross under pressure from David Strihavka in the 69th minute and the striker popped the ball into an empty net for 2-1. Although we continued to pour forward, Slavia grew in confidence and Erich Brabec was denied an unlikely equaliser when his header cannoned off the underside of the crossbar five minutes from time.

"I thought we controlled the first hour but then we became quite nervous," reflected Juande. "We allowed Slavia Prague to react and we have a tough second leg to play. All our efforts will now be concentrated on that match.

"The game lasts 90 minutes and we have to take it like that, we have to accept it. We could have achieved a better result but we can't change it now."

Juande refused to criticise Radek after his lapse back on home soil - the keeper spent over 20 years at Slavia before switching to Spurs. "Mistakes can happen - that's the world of football," added Juande. "This time, it was the turn of Cerny but we're not thinking much about that.

"It's quite possible that he was nervous after the goal, more than normal. It must have been quite difficult for him to be back at home and playing here."

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