Every victorious Athletic Club player said that their 3-1 semi-final second leg win against Sporting Clube de Portugal gave them a mixture of nerves, joy, tension and tiredness. However, as Ander Iturraspe told UEFA.com, it was Spanish Cup finalists Athletic's decision at half-time to keep on attacking and taking risks that led to Fernando Llorente's 88th-minute strike, and a 4-3 aggregate victory that sealed their place in the Bucharest final on 9 May against Club Atlético de Madrid.
Fernando Llorente, Athletic Club striker
What a great game! So many emotions, it's been almost indescribable. To experience this with our fans, who have once again demonstrated that they are the best in the world, is superb. It's hard to contain the emotions on a night like this, and don't forget we had some difficult moments. By the end it was enough to make you want to cry. It was a topsy-turvy tie and to be so, so close to the final wasn't easy. Thank God we got through.
Honestly, it was a dream to score the winner, because this season we have conceded so many late goals and now to suddenly get through to the final in that manner – well, I'm almost speechless. It's historic and a definitive moment in our history.
Ibai [Gómez] needs to get an enormous amount of credit. He's not been a regular starter this season and to take advantage of his opportunity so brilliantly on a nervy night warrants huge merit. I'd also like to mention the astonishing game that Ander Herrera produced.
Markel Susaeta, Athletic Club winger
We were very conscious that this was a chance to get into a second final this season. Now we have done it, we will have a bit of time to take in and analyse our achievement. However, we know that we are on the verge of doing something great. We have always gone game by game and kept it in mind that the final was a long way off. Now it's a dream to be there. That's my headline: "We are there".
We'll not think about Atlético for a while yet because we'll continue match by match. It's been a beautiful week so far and what's vital now, given that Athletic have gone so many years without winning anything, is for us to ensure we win at least one of our two finals. The fans deserve something. So many years without a trophy and now we are in the Europa League final – this is for them.
Ander Iturraspe, Athletic Club midfielder
A totally spectacular night. It all came off. We struggled a bit at 2-1 then when the third came with two minutes left, it was sensational. The fans helped so much. You hear them most when you need it – they lift you. We knew we had a potentially great team but it's so difficult to get to two finals in the same season and now it's down to us to win them. We kept our style tonight and at half-time we talked about the fact that we needed to keep attacking, to go after a winner and just to cope with their threat.
Gorka Iraizoz, Athletic Club, goalkeeper
We are all really delighted. What an incredible experience! It's a bit difficult to get the happiness under control. For the club, for the players, for the fans, it's something amazing and we need to enjoy it. The team kept its concentration and that helped us control the game well. But their goal made the second half very tight. The fans love this club, they keep Athletic in their heart and we will now try and make sure that they enjoy themselves in Bucharest.
Andoni Iraola, Athletic Club full-back
We were made to suffer a little but happily, at the end, we could enjoy ourselves. Perhaps the day we suffered most in this brilliant Europa League season was here against Lokomotiv Moskva with the scoreline against us and with ten men. However, we overturned it in the end. Today when they scored it meant that we needed to get at least one more, perhaps two. Happily we did it. The only thing to do was to keep playing, tired or not. But the immense joy when Fernando scored made everything worthwhile
There were some nerves but when you see how much it means to the city, how much they want to show us their affection, it helps calm the nerves, so they didn't affect us tonight. This has been phenomenal, but you never know how many of these chances you are going to get so you have to take advantage of them by winning.
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