Captain Sebastian Kehl feels that Borussia Dortmund have earned their place in the quarter-finals of this season's UEFA Champions League.
Kehl cancelled out Hulk's opener in the return leg of their last 16 meeting with Zenit on Wednesday, as Dortmund were beaten 2-1 on the night.
Despite the loss, Jurgen Klopp's men still progressed to the last eight on aggregate thanks to their 4-2 win in St Petersburg in the first encounter and midfielder Kehl believes that they can be proud of their efforts.
After scoring his first-ever Champions League goal, Kehl hopes that they can now build on their momentum after suffering a mixed campaign this year by their own recent standards.
"Perhaps it wasn't our best match, but we have reached the quarter-finals of the UEFA Champions League and can all leave the stadium with a huge smile on our face," he said.
"We are very happy going through, as we've had a lot of injuries this season. We never complained about it, but it does cost a lot of energy.
"Despite all this, we deserve to be among the best eight teams in Europe."
Having found themselves a goal down after just 16 minutes through Hulk's stunning long-range strike, Kehl's header restored parity on the night only for Jose Rondon to head the winner late on.
Kehl admitted that he expected Zenit's forward line to cause the Germans plenty of problems due to the likes of Hulk and Rondon, although he was still disappointed to lose the second leg.
"We knew that Zenit would try to put us under pressure," he continued. "They had to go for it and they have real quality in the attacking department.
"Still, we should not have conceded the second goal, although apart from that we didn't allow much."comments