MIXU PAATELAINEN has hailed his Finland side for achieving the biggest result of his career by taming Spain.
The former Hibernian and Kilmarnock manager reckons that the 1-1 draw secured by the Finns on Friday against the current world and European champions in their own backyard is the major upset of the World Cup qualifying campaign.
Mixu’s unknowns earned a draw in Gijon thanks to an equaliser from Schalke striker Teemu Pukki on Friday night. Paatelainen said that outfoxing Spain coach Vincente del Bosque was a “feather in my cap”.
The Finns’ result is in stark contrast to Scotland, who lost twice to Spain in the Euro 2012 qualifiers.
“It was a great occasion, not just for me, but for the whole of Finnish football. This is the reigning world champions and we matched them. It is the biggest result of my career, and a feather in my cap as a coach.
“No one expected us to get anything before the start of the game but my team believed in themselves and their own way of playing and it was rewarded. That is great and I have to praise my players. We had the best team in the world against us but we kept the Spanish out of a lot of areas they could score in.”
Finland captain Nicolas Moisander believes that Paatelainen’s work behind the scenes since taking charge of his country’s national team in 2011 is paying off.
“Our team spirit is the reason why we got a point,” said the Ajax defender. “It was awesome, and we fought hard to keep Spain out. What a place to get a draw!”
Paatelainen promised his players a small party to celebrate but warned he does not want to see any affect on their next game with Luxembourg.
“We will maybe have a glass or two,” he said. “We want to appreciate our good feelings just now but then we have to prepare for Tuesday’s match with Luxembourg.”