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Rajković enjoys 'spectacular' Serbia celebrations

Published: Tuesday 30 July 2013, 10.04CET
The heroes of the semi-final shoot-out win against Portugal, goalkeeper Predrag Rajković and match winner Aleksandar Mitrović, said they had "entered Serbian football history".
by Paul Bryan & Ivan Vjetrović
from Alytus

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Published: Tuesday 30 July 2013, 10.04CET

Rajković enjoys 'spectacular' Serbia celebrations

The heroes of the semi-final shoot-out win against Portugal, goalkeeper Predrag Rajković and match winner Aleksandar Mitrović, said they had "entered Serbian football history".

After playing his part in Serbia's UEFA European Under-19 Championship semi-final penalty shoot-out win against Portugal, goalkeeper Predrag Rajković described the atmosphere among his celebratory team-mates as "spectacular."

We have made it to the final which is a huge achievement. I hope we can now go on to win the trophy; why not?
Predrag Rajković
We left our bodies and souls on the pitch. Everything we worked for when preparing for this tournament has paid off
Aleksandar Mitrović

The goalkeeper was a pivotal figure in Serbia's third semi-final in five years, and fourth overall. He saved spot kicks from Alexandre Guedes and João Teixeira and, with Luís Rafael also sending his penalty over the crossbar, Aleksandar Mitrović accepted the chance to convert the all-important kick.

"What can I say?" the SRB Jagodina goalkeeper asked. "For me this was an incredible game; you don't get to play a semi-final every day. We have made it to the final which is a huge achievement. I hope we can now go on to win the trophy; why not?"

Serbia had lost all four previous semi-final appearances but their attempt to improve on that record was boosted when they took a sixth-minute lead through Uroš Djurdjević's header only for second-half goals from Bernardo Silva and Alexandre Guedes to turn the tide. Ljubinko Drulović's side refused to buckle, substitute Mijat Gačinović sending the game into extra time and ultimately setting the stage for Rajković and Mitrović to take the headlines.

Explaining that his side, "let our concentration drop," in the second half, Rajković added that their late equaliser "brought our confidence back" and led to their shoot-out heroics. "I had a good feeling about the penalties and told my team-mate Mitrović beforehand that I would save three shots," he said. "I saved two and one missed the target so I was not that far off with my prediction. The amount of happiness and celebration within the group at the end was spectacular."

Forward Mitrović agreed, adding: "We left our bodies and souls on the pitch. Everything we worked for when preparing for this tournament has paid off. This win may be down to the character in our squad and the spirit that we have. We never lost faith today and ran as much as we could in our attempts to win. We have now entered into Serbian football history by getting to play in the U19 final."

A final on Thursday against France awaits but before preparing for that, the FK Partizan striker said his side would be putting their feet up and enjoying their memorable achievement. "We will rest well tonight and celebrate a little," he assured. "We will then study how to approach our opponents in the final."

Last updated: 04/09/13 23.40CET

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