The German had little to do but made a nice save at a crucial moment to help his team to victory
Ronald Koeman praised Marc-André ter Stegen on a crucial save in Barcelona’s 2-0 win over Elche on Sunday, saying the club were “lucky” to have a keeper of his quality.
The Catalan giants were leading 1-0 thanks to a strike from Frenkie de Jong when Ter Stegen turned down Elche striker Emiliano Rigoni early in the second half.
Barca would seal the points late thanks to a goal from Riqui Puig, but Koeman was quick to point out his goalkeeper’s contribution to what was a pivotal moment in the game.
“They didn’t have any chances – they only had one chance and that was a big mistake in our defense,” Koeman said.
“But Ter Stegen was very good face to face [chance]. Fortunately, we have a good goalkeeper because they could have equalized there.
“Defensively, other than that mistake, we did well. The best thing about today was our pressing and our performance without the ball. We deserved to win. ”
The result means it’s a happy ending to a thrilling week for Barca, who have seen them play twice extra time against Athletic Bilbao in the Spanish Super Cup and Cornella in the Copa del Rey.
“I’m very happy with the way we won [the game]”, Added Koeman.” We have had a lot of games in the last few days and we have stayed focused.
“We were better than our opponents. We have been patient. We have gained possession. It was difficult to score because they had a lot of men behind the ball. But we pressed well. ”
The Dutchman was also pleased with the contribution of De Jong, who hasn’t always achieved top form in a Barcelona shirt since his much-publicized transfer from Ajax two years ago.
With Lionel Messi suspended, Ousmane Dembele, Martin Braithwaite and Antoine Griezmann played up front, although Koeman was keen to stress the importance of goals scored by other sources.
“The three forwards are not enough; we need the midfielders to score too, ”he said. “It’s good that he [De Jong] score and help. He’s improving. We want the midfielder to go into the box and go up there.
Despite the victory, Koeman played down Barca’s prospect of winning the La Liga title, with leaders Atletico Madrid seven points ahead of his side with two games in hand.
“We will try [to challenge for the title], but Atletico are still going strong, ”he said.