Leverkusen - was back doing what he does best at the heart of the Bayer 04 Leverkusen midfield on Wednesday night, stepping into the breach in place of captain Simon Rolfes and leading die Werkself to a priceless 1-0 first-leg win over Club Atletico de Madrid in the UEFA Champions League Round of 16.

Speaking after the game, the 25-year-old Germany international discussed the importance of application, self-belief and momentum...

Question: Congratulations Lars Bender on the 1-0 last-16 win over Atletico Madrid. What did you make of the game?

Lars Bender: We deserved to win the game and get a good result. We set ourselves a number of tasks. We knew that we'd have to give it absolutely everything to live with Atletico Madrid and get the win. We did that well from the get-go, but we have to follow it up in the second leg. Otherwise the result doesn't mean much.

Question: There was talk of this week - with three home games in three different competitions - being the moment of truth. Self-confidence wasn't particularly high, yet the team were right on it on the pitch. Did you notice pretty early on that today was going to be your day?

Bender: We have faith in our abilities. We proved that. You can't see inside the team from the outside. A lot's been written and said about it not going too well for us, but we believe in our game. You could see that from the start. We were right on it from the off. If you start well you immediately have the momentum. We saw the game through right until the end.

Question: How much of a lift does the win give your ahead of the match against Freiburg [on Matchday 23] and the cup game against Kaiserslautern [on March 3]?

Bender: I hope it gives us a massive lift. In the Bundesliga we've rarely got what we've deserved. Today you saw what's needed to win big games. We just have to do the same again against Freiburg on Saturday.

Question: How valuable is a 1-0 win against the Spanish champions?

Bender: It's a shame we couldn't finish off one or two other counter-attacks, but it's a good result that probably not many people saw coming. We'll travel to Madrid in good spirits, but we also know we'll need to put in the same level of performance there as a minimum. It's going to be a really uncomfortable and difficult game for us.

Question: Was the only negative perhaps that the team didn't score a second goal against Atletico?

Bender: No, we were dominant right until the end. It was an important win.

Question: How good was it to play so well in front of a live audience on terrestrial television, having suffered heavy defeats on such occasions in the past? Leverkusen are also the only German side to win their last 16 first-leg tie.

Bender: We've already shown in one or two games this season what we're capable of. I seem to remember us playing well here against SL Benfica and FC Zenit, and even against AS Monaco even though the result didn't reflect the performance. Of course, though, [the win] does us good after a two- or three-week spell that hasn't exactly been positive for us. A game like that is great for the self-confidence. I hope that we'll carry the necessary momentum with us into the coming weeks, starting with the game against Freiburg.

Tobias Gonscherowski reporting from the BayArena