Fulham FC's Bobby Zamora admitted "those last ten minutes seemed to take forever" after the west London side came from behind to pip Hamburger SV to next month's inaugural UEFA Europa League final.
"I'm overjoyed," said the striker. "We've not had an easy run, played some great teams, including a very well-organised one tonight. But our desire and willingness to work for each other has shone through again –we got the result we wanted. I'm lost for words." Zamora was forced to watch the conclusion from the bench, limping off before the hour after aggravating his Achilles problem with the visitors leading through Mladen Petrić's free-kick.
"That free-kick was world class," admitted Simon Davies. "It knocked us off our feet a bit but the manager said at half-time that if we keep playing, keep knocking at the door, we'd get a goal." Indeed, the Welsh international got it, brilliantly collecting Danny Murphy's pass, spinning and slotting in. Seven minutes later Zoltán Gera got another after a corner and Fulham, in only their second European campaign, were through to their first final, against Club Atlético de Madrid on 12 May.
For Davies, their presence in Hamburg is all down to one man: Hodgson. The 62-year-old took over at the helm in December 2007 with Fulham struggling for their Premier League survival, a relegation battle that went to the final day of the season. Two and a half years later they are a game away from major European silverware.
"He's been first class since he walked through the door, bringing his knowledge and drilling into us the way he wants to play," said Davies. "
We're very hard to play against: we're compact, going forward and defensively. Now hopefully we can go one step further and bring the trophy home."
The last word, though, must go to Hodgson. "They've spoiled me over the last two and a half years," said the former FC Internazionale Milano coach who has overseen a four-goal swing against Juventus and victory over UEFA Cup holders FC Shakhtar Donetsk in the last two months alone.
"After going a goal down to such a goal against the run of play we made a piece of history.
The atmosphere is something I will remember for a very long time but I am a little bit drained; it was a rollercoaster out there, but I couldn't be more delighted."
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