Labbadia: Benfica deserved to go through
Stuttgart coach Bruno Labbadia last night paid tribute to Benfica, saying the "better team" had won their Europa League last-32 tie.
A 2-0 win for the Portuguese at the Mercedes-Benz-Arena completed a 4-1 aggregate victory for Jorge Jesus' side, and Labbadia admitted his side had been inferior over the 180 minutes.
"As soon as it was 0-2, the game was over for us," he said. "Afterwards, you could see what fine football Benfica play. Over the two legs, they were the better team and they deserved to go through."
The defeat means Stuttgart can now focus their full attention on Bundesliga survival. The Swabians are currently four points adrift of safety and hoping to avoid a similar fate to Nurnberg and Hertha Berlin, who were both relegated in recent seasons having lost to Benfica in Europe.
"Of course we are disappointed, but we have got to turn our attention to Sunday as quickly as possible," said defender Georg Niedermeier. Captain Matthieu Delpierre added: "All that counts now is the Bundesliga."
Stuttgart travel to Eintracht Frankfurt on Sunday for an important relegation battle at the Waldstadion.