Fulham FC ultimately came up short in their 19th UEFA Europa League match of the season, but despite losing the final of their epic adventure 2-1 in extra time against Club Atlético de Madrid there was nothing but praise for the London side and their manager Roy Hodgson as UEFA.com reviews the press reaction to the final in Hamburg.
Fairytale has unhappy ending for Hodgson's heroes
The Times, England
"Even the bravest, most resilient boxer recognises a knockout blow when it hits him. All season long Fulham have punched far above their weight in the Europa League, but when they were knocked to the floor by Diego Forlán's second goal deep into extra time, they faced the sudden grim realisation that this great adventure was going to end in heartbreak."
48 years and 115 minutes later Atlético are champions again
El Mundo, Spain
"Atlético started the UEFA Europa League final fearful of Fulham, but after finding their feet they played fluently and displayed some wonderful football at times. Forlán struck in the 32nd minute only for Davies to equalise. Everything happened in the first half, little in the second, leading to extra time. Then 48 years and 115 minutes after winning the UEFA Cup Winners' Cup in 1962, Forlán grasped the second continental trophy in the history of the Manzanares club."
Hodgson and his cartoon heroes go down with pride
The Guardian, England
"No matter what Europe threw at them, Fulham kept on playing their own way and performed like people who decided on some long trip to distant parts that unity and coolness under pressure could conquer anything. It nearly did. Is it the journey or the moment of delivery that constitutes the triumph? In this brutal age it may be heresy, but it was hard to think of Hodgson's side as beaten men as they were finally dragged off this road."
Hamburg, like Stuttgart in 1962, is Rojiblanca
El País, Spain
"Hamburg was painted red and white just as nearby Stuttgart had been in 1962, the scene until yesterday of Atlético de Madrid's only European title. It was not a great game and things are never easy for Atlético … but they are back on top and deservedly so. Atlético resisted difficult and endless competition and against an enthusiastic and resilient Fulham side the finishing touch was worth the wait."
After 30 years the big secret is finally out, Hodgson's a top boss
Daily Mirror, England
"They may have fallen to a 116th-minute winner from Diego Forlán in an enthralling Europa League final but the superb football they played in a defeat they did not deserve will only have enhanced Hodgson's reputation. His achievement in getting Fulham to this football showpiece in the first place has alerted Europe's top clubs to the fact that there is an old maestro working in our midst ... Fulham did not freeze on their big night. They thrived in exalted company. They're used to the limelight now. One way or another, their boss will soon be bathing in it a lot more, too."
40,000 descend on Neptune
"Neptune didn't sleep on Wednesday night as [the fountain] became the focal point for 40,000 fans wrapped in flags, shirts and scarves, with blaring car horns mingled with cries to heaven of "Uruguayan". Whole families, young embracing the old, chanted "Champions, Champions". Fans had gathered in the square hoping to relive the celebrations of 1996 [when Atlético won the double] and there were once again tears of joy among the painted faces."
Former HSV star Ujfaluši wins the trophy
Hamburger Morgenpost, Germany
"Even Hamburg's fans could be slightly pleased. The UEFA Europa League final at least made one former Hamburg player happy as triumphantly Tomáš Ujfaluši lifted the trophy. But a Hamburg final without HSV [who lost to Fulham in the semi-finals] created a strange atmosphere in the city, as it was the visiting Spanish and English fans who were doing the partying."
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