Falcao's 17th goal of the 2010/11 UEFA Europa League proved the most valuable of a haul that has enshrined the FC Porto forward as the leading scorer of any season in this competition or its predecessor, the UEFA Cup.
The Colombian international's perfectly placed header after 44 minutes of Wednesday's final at the Dublin Arena secured a 1-0 victory for the Portuguese champions against northern neighbours SC Braga. For Falcao, though, the Dragões' collective achievement eclipsed any personal triumph. "It has been brilliant to win this competition and fantastic for me to have got the winner, but this has been about the team's hard work. We are a very united group and from the start we have been able to make possible this dream of winning the Europa League," said the 25-year-old.
If he had to choose any of his unprecedented plunder – including the 18 goals he has for the campaign in other competitions – his pick would be his towering header past Artur. "
I will never forget the goal, it was a marvellous moment," said the No9. "When I scored I wanted to hug all of the fans, even the ones in my own country of Colombia, and my family, some of whom were here in the stadium. We have a great team here with great players and we want to build on this success next season."
Where Falcao has crowned his second term at the Estádio do Dragão with winners' medals in the Portuguese Liga and UEFA Europa League – with the Portuguese Cup possibly to follow against Vitória SC on Sunday – playmaker João Moutinho has achieved all this at the first attempt. Yet he had particular reason to celebrate tonight's success having lost the 2005 UEFA Cup final with Sporting Clube de Portugal.
"Happily I'm on the winning side this time and we deserved this," said the 24-year-old Portuguese international. "We have grown as a team all season, with great unity yet also with humility. We have been winning all our big games and this one, in this great stadium in Dublin, has been incredible. We knew Braga would be tough opponents but we were the team that wanted to win more."
Forward Hulk, meanwhile, underlined the value of Porto's UEFA Europa League win as it brought the club's seventh UEFA trophy. "This night will go down in the history of the club," the 24-year-old Brazilian international told UEFA.com. "
I will be able to tell my son about this in the future – winning an international tournament with Porto. The Europa League is the biggest competition after the Champions League and it is massive for us to get our hands on the trophy. We knew it would be difficult, we'd spoken about it all week and they kept it really tight. We played as a team though and in the end we can celebrate."
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