Owen Coyle sang the praises of his players, staff and the Wigan Athletic supporters for their efforts in making Thursday evening another memorable one in the history of the club regardless of the eventual scoreline.
Around 150 fans made the long and arduous trip to Kazan for the match, and were saluted by the players and staff following the final whistle, with Coyle praising them further afterwards, saying:
“Our supporters were incredible, what a fantastic effort it was from them to get all the way out here and make us feel very proud of the club we all represent.
“We brought more here than Tottenham did a few years ago which shows how much this meant to them.
“Throughout the game they were vocal, colourful and gave the players the backing they needed to get on top of Rubin, especially in the second half and we all felt disappointed not to be able to send them home with at least a point after their efforts.”
As for the game itself, Coyle was is no doubt that his team’s performance warranted some kind of reward from the night, but that they reached a level that, if replicated, will ensure passage to the round of 32, explaining:
“We were outstanding tonight. The goal we conceded was disappointing, but it would have been all too easy to feel sorry for ourselves after that setback. Instead, the players picked themselves up and kept a team with real European pedigree relatively quiet.
“We dominated the second half, hit the woodwork, created some great half chances and deserved something from the game, but that’s how it goes sometimes.
“The big chance came towards the end when Roger Espinoza delivered a perfect cross which was met perfectly by big Thomas Rogne. To be honest, I thought it was heading in but once again the woodwork has denied us and I’ve told him that so long as he keep buying a ticket he’ll win the raffle one day!
“There were also some key decisions that went against us I felt; we should have had a penalty in the first half when Espinoza was fouled inside the area, and whilst I’m not an advocate of getting players sent off, Dimitri Torbinski committed two identical fouls on Callum McManaman and only got one yellow card, for the first one, so they should have been down to ten men.
“Overall I thought we looked like a seasoned European team and with two games remaining in the group, our fate is very much in our own hands.
“At the start of the night we made six changes to the side that beat Huddersfield last weekend in an attempt to keep things fresh during a busy schedule. But towards the end of the game it was our players who were keeping the tempo high and finishing strong, which shows the character we have within the squad.
“If we produce the same kind of performance as we did tonight against Zulte Waregem and Maribor then there’s no doubt that we’ll qualify for the knockout phase.”