Club Atlético de Madrid forward Sergio Agüero earned special recognition from coach Quique Sánchez Flores after his two goals against Sporting Clube de Portugal helped Los Rojiblancos to a 2-2 draw in Lisbon and a place in the UEFA Europa League quarter-finals on away goals.
The 21-year-old cut a frustrated figure during a scoreless first leg at the Vicente Calderón seven days earlier but did not need long to make an impact this time around. The Argentinian registered his first goal of the competition after just three minutes at the Estádio José Alvalade before restoring Atlético's lead half an hour later – only for the hosts to pull level once more.
"The boss gave me a hug at the end and offered me his congratulations, he looked really happy," Agüero said. "It was a good victory for us. We played very well and of course I'm happy I got on the scoresheet twice. We're going to enjoy this moment."
Mutual appreciation from both sets of supporters greeted both teams after the referee brought a pulsating game to an end. 'El Kun' understood the dejection felt by his opponents and was quick to offer Carlos Carvalhal's side some comfort.
"Any rival that faces Sporting in their stadium is going to have to come out fighting," he said. "We knew they were under a little pressure to take the game to us as they were playing on their turf. From that point of view it was a good performance and result for us."
Leões captain João Moutinho felt a poor start to the second leg handed the momentum to the opposition at a crucial period in the tie. "We realised if we conceded it would make everything more difficult for us," he told UEFA.com.
"Going in at half-time at 2-2 wasn't enough for us so in the second half we gave everything to win. We didn't manage to convert any of our chances, though, so we are disappointed because we really felt we could eliminate this Atlético side." It is Atlético and not Sporting who go into Friday's quarter-final draw, however, with Agüero predicting "a very difficult rival" in the last eight.
©UEFA.com 1998-2011. All rights reserved.