Leonardo disappointed by Europa exit
Paris St Germain sporting director Leonardo expressed his disappointment at the club's elimination from the UEFA Europa League but praised the players' efforts in snatching a late home win over Athletic Bilbao last night. The big-spending capital club defeated a much-changed Athletic 4-2 at the Parc des Princes, but it was not enough for them to advance to the last 32 due to Salzburg's 3-2 victory at Slovan Bratislava.
Leonardo told www.psg.fr: "Europa League was an important objective for the club, so to have failed to get out of the groups is disappointing. Yet we played very well. The team did everything to get the win, but it wasn't enough because Salzburg won too."
Antoine Kombouare's side had looked on course to go through when first-half goals from Javier Pastore and Mathieu Bodmar overturned Jon Aurtenetxe's second-minute header. At that stage Salzburg were drawing 2-2 in Slovakia but when they went ahead early in the second half, PSG's progress was out of their hands.
An Inigo Perez own goal and Guillaume Hoarau's penalty in the final five minutes sealed the win against the Group F winners, but it proved in vain. PSG were one of the favourites for the tournament following the summer investment of their new Qatari owners, but their early exit is likely to heap more pressure on coach Kombouare.
Forward Kevin Gameiro was also sorry to have missed out on the knockout stage, but took consolation from the fact the team would gain confidence ahead of Sunday night's Ligue 1 clash with champions Lille. He said: "Going out of the Europa League is a shame. But the win does see the confidence rise a little more ahead of Sunday's game. The Europa League was one of our objectives and now we'll focus solely on the championship and the Coupe de France. We know what we have to do."
Defender Siaka Tiene added: "We really wanted to qualify, but we exit the competition with our heads held high after this win. That's what we'll take from this game, even if it's a shame to have missed out on the round of 32. It's our third win in a row and we have maintained the positive run into the Lille match."