Scottish Premier League

Sutton fears chance has gone

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Wed, 06 Mar 2013 18:35:00

Gregory Sertic hopes the Europa League can once again provide a welcome respite from Bordeaux's Ligue 1 travails.

Les Girondins have lost their last four league games, with the doom and gloom lifted by an impressive two-leg victory over Dynamo Kiev in the last 32 of the Europa League.

On Thursday they visit Portuguese giants Benfica in the first leg of their last-16 clash, and midfielder Sertic insists confidence within the side remains high.

He told "We know they are a big team. It does not scare us. We expect a big game. Mentally, we need to react. This is not a league game, we must react quickly to forget those four defeats in a row in the league.

"In the Europa League we have managed to surpass our league performances. Why not do it again against Benfica? Kiev was a very big team. We're ready."

Bordeaux have reason to be optimistic for their visit to the Estadio da Luz given they are unbeaten in six European games and have lost only once in their five away matches in the competition this season.

However, Benfica's record at home is even more impressive. Since the UEFA Cup became the Europa League in 2009, the Lisbon side have won 11 of their 12 home matches, with a draw against Marseille three seasons ago the only blemish.

Assessing Bordeaux's opponents, Sertic said: "They are very technical. They play a game a little like Spanish sides, where they pass the ball a lot.

"Their players are generally quite small in size but with a very big striker in Oscar Cardozo. We will manage this. It should be an interesting result for the second leg at home."

Benfica are duelling with Porto for the Liga title, with the Lisbon side currently ahead by two points, but winger Eduardo Salvio insists that will not distract them from their European objective.

He said on the club's Facebook page: "Now we're thinking about the next game, with Bordeaux, but we know that we have nine rounds remaining in the championship and we will play, as always, with respect for the opponent and thinking game by game.

"We face a very strong opponent and with high quality, they have good players. We will try to impose our game and leave with a good result in our own stadium."

Hearts ended a five-match losing streak with a 2-0 win over St Johnstone on Tuesday night to move six points off sixth-placed Hibernian in the Bank Premier League ahead of Sunday's Edinburgh derby.

Tenth-placed Hearts also face Aberdeen and Ross County before the split and Sutton knows they need to hit top form.

Sutton told Hearts TV: "It was an important win, and I think it was very important performance as well, we have been on a bad run.

"That's what we are capable of doing - we didn't play as well as we possibly could this season.

"We have really got to keep up those performance levels for the rest of the season too.

"I think the trouble is that we've been probably given ourselves too much to do. You never know, we are reliant on the other people.

"I think if we are going to be focused in the next three league games, see where that takes us - hopefully that will be the top six.

"The shame is that we never really put a performance in like that all this year.

"We got two goals, and the way we played - we dominated the game - we could have had a few more. Obviously, it is a great to get a clean sheet for Jamie (MacDonald) and for the boys at the back as well.

"It is tough for us to get in the top six, but we are going to give a good job."

Sutton scored in his second consecutive game but he gave a fair amount of credit to his strike partner Michael Ngoo, who is on loan from Liverpool.

The former Motherwell forward said: "That's a funny thing with goals: as much as I've tapped it in, the thing is that Michael has done the most of the work for me.

"I've been talking to him and the pleasing thing is that we are linking up well. Both of us had lots of shots, lots of chances.

"Even if we are not getting chances for ourselves, or setting each other up, we are certainly helping the team out.

"The signs are encouraging but we have to keep that going."

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