F91 Dudelange's historic UEFA Champions League victory against NK Zrinjski has united Luxembourg in celebration.
By Mark Bennett
Luxembourger outfit F91 Dudelange's dramatic victory over NK Zrinjski last night has united club, town and country in celebration.
An astonishing 4-0 extra-time win completed a remarkable turnaround in Bosnia-Herzegovina as Dudelange became the first team from Luxembourg to pass through a round of the European Champion Clubs' Cup for 42 years. As the game drifted past the 90-minute mark, the situation looked desperate for Dudelange, still trailing on aggregate following the 1-0 defeat at their Stade Jos Nosbaum last week.
Thomas Gruszczynski then scored to force extra time before the floodgates opened in the additional half-hour, with the Polish striker again on target in between strikes from Joris Di Gregorio and Gaël Hug. The goals sent the town of Dudelange, over 1,000km away, into a state of euphoria, the night air filled with the sound of car horns and jubilant cries.
Supporters woke this morning to succinct headlines of "F91 Sensation" in daily newspaper Wort. "The Luxembourg champions put on a brilliant tactical display during regular time but simply couldn't find the back of the net until Gruszczynski's strike," Wort reported. "Then in extra time F91 [Dudelange] ran rings around their opponents."
Like the fans, club president Théo Fellerich was still struggling to contain himself this morning. He was holding back the tears as he told uefa.com: "It was a huge success, our team and coaching staff did us proud. It was a fantastic display and I'm very proud to be president of F91 Dudelange.
"We want to represent Luxemburg in UEFA competitions in the best possible manner and by winning and reaching the next round we have definitely succeeded in doing that. It is without doubt one of the biggest wins in the history of our club. Don't forget, we've only been around for 14 years."
Dudelange were not in existence when AS Jeunesse Esch prevailed in a European Cup tie in 1963/64 – the last time a Luxembourger side savoured victory in UEFA's premier club competition. With SK Rapid Wien visiting Dudelange next week, Fellerich will hope they do not have to wait so long for the next success - though he knows his team could struggle against the Austrian champions.
"Rapid are a huge club and, to be honest, they are in a different class," Fellerich continued. "As long as the team put on a good display I will be happy. But for now, I just want to enjoy our huge success – I'm not really thinking about Rapid yet."