Ramos ready for group challenge

Sevilla coach Juande Ramos is looking forward to a "new adventure" after guiding the club to the Champions League group stage for the first time.

Sevilla coach Juande Ramos is looking forward to a "new adventure" after guiding the club to the Champions League group stage for the first time.

The reigning two-time UEFA Cup champions booked their place at European football's top table after securing a commanding victory in their delayed third qualifying round encounter with AEK Athens on Monday.

In a game held over from last Tuesday following the death of Antonio Puerta, Sevilla set aside the emotional turmoil of the past couple of weeks to hammer AEK 4-1 in Athens and seal an impressive 6-1 aggregate victory.

The Primera Liga outfit will now contest Champions League Group H alongside Arsenal, Slavia Prague and Steaua Bucharest.

Ramos said: "Sevilla needed to make this step forward, after two seasons spent in the UEFA Cup and with excellent results.

"From now on, we will start focusing on our new adventure and we are optimistic that we can be successful in the group we find ourselves in.

"However, it's our first time among the 'big' clubs and we come across some classic names of the UEFA Champions League, such as Arsenal and Steaua Bucharest.

"There is no such thing as an easy game in this competition and we promise that we will fight."

A Luis Fabiano penalty opened the scoring after 31 minutes in Athens and further efforts from Seydou Keita and Fabiano settled the contest in the Spanish outfit's favour.

Aleksandr Kerzhakov made it 4-0 on the night before former FIFA World Player of the Year Rivaldo pulled one back from the spot late on.

AEK coach Lorenzo Serra Ferrer said: "In the first 20 minutes, we were looking our opponents in the eye. We deserved to get a goal, but we lacked composure in our finishing.

"I know that our task was difficult right from the start. I am satisfied with my players' attitude and their constant search for a goal."

The Spanish coach added that he expects Sevilla to shine in the group stage after watching his team dismantled by Ramos' rampant troops.

"Sevilla are a well-structured club, an experienced team and they've had a good draw in the group stage," Serra Ferrer said. "I believe they will do very well."
Source: PRESS ASSOCIATION