Spartak Moscow won a crunch Champions League clash with Portugal's Benfica on Tuesday because they were better motivated, the Russian club's wing-back Dmitry Kombarov said.
All the goals were scored in the first 45 minutes before Spartak held onto their 2-1 lead throughout a goalless but gruelling second half in which Benfica piled on the pressure.
"The main thing is that we went into the game with real desire. We scored a goal, then scored a second and played it out," Kombarov said.
Low fitness levels after a 2-1 defeat to Anzhi Makhachkala on Saturday almost cost Spartak the win, he suggested.
"We'd got a bit tired after a tough game in Makhachkala," he said when asked why Spartak had faded towards the end of the game.
Spartak coach Unai Emery's policy of rotating players has come under fire in recent weeks from some Russian pundits, who have blamed it for inconsistent performances.
Kombarov defended Emery's plan as "healthy competition" and said it helped the team.
"Each player knows that in the next match you might not play if you don't train well," he said.
Kombarov was the only player on the pitch to have featured in Russia's 1-0 win over Portugal earlier this month, also played at Moscow's Luzhniki stadium.