NextGen Series: McAndrew - I couldn't be prouder
Tony McAndrew spoke of his immense pride after seeing the young lions see off Olympiacos in a thoroughly professional performance at Villa Park.
McAndrew said his up-and-coming aces "grew up and earned their stripes" as they earned their spot in the NextGen Series semi-finals, held in Lake Como between March 29 and April 1.
Villa youth coach McAndrew said the quality - evident in past victories over Sporting Lisbon, Celtic and Ajax - was there again for all to see.
But he was also impressed by the way they saw the game out in an experienced and efficient manner, with bulky Olympiacos piling on the pressure at the death.
He said: "It's a fantastic achievement to win this and reach the semi-finals.
"I actually enjoyed the whole game. I thought we played well apart from five minutes in each half. I thought we were in good control of the game.
"We should have had two or three more goals. I am so proud of the players. They were fantastic.
"There was some good football played and apart from the goal we made other chances. We could have made the game a little bit easier for ourselves. But it wasn't to be.
"Olympiacos are a good side. They are a big, strong, physical side and they put us under a lot of pressure in the last five minutes. The way the lads defended as a team was tremendous.
"You could highlight individuals but I think the big thing was the team ethic. It was fantastic.
"The togetherness and the way they battled and blocked at the end was tremendous.
"Olympiacos had nothing to lose at the end. They were one-down with ten minutes to go. They stuck everyone forward.
"From free-kicks and corners, they have really good delivery and big guys who attack the ball.
"We worked on that at the training ground on Tuesday and Wednesday. Our guys stuck to it.
"Jordan Lyden took one for the team - one in the face - and that's what this team is all about. Some of the kids grew up. It was fantastic.
"They earned their stripes and we are really proud of them.
"It's been a fantastic tournament so far. The kids have played so, so well.
"The results and performances against the likes of Ajax, Sporting Lisbon and PSV Eindhoven have been tremendous. It's been great.
"The kids have risen to the challenge. They have beaten some of the best youth teams in Europe. That's not a fluke. That is hard work and desire. They are getting the benefits of the efforts."
Watch McAndrew face the cameras on AVTV.
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