Mladen Petrić enjoyed playing a starring role as Hamburger SV took another step to a UEFA Europa League final on home turf by knocking out R. Standard de Liège to reach the last four.
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After scoring a wonderful overhead kick to help eliminate R. Standard de Liège on Thursday, Mladen Petrić said his mind was firmly on helping Hamburger SV negotiate their path through to the UEFA Europa League final.
The Croatian international scored twice against Standard, his second a perfectly-executed overhead kick, in a 3-1 win (5-2 on aggregate) that eased Hamburg into a semi-final tie with Fulham FC. The English club's defeat of VfL Wolfsburg avoided an all-Bundesliga semi-final, something which pleased Petrić as HSV home in on a final which will be held at their own stadium on 12 May.
"It's going to be difficult, but we're happy that we're going to play against an international opponent rather than Wolfsburg, who we already know well. I'm excited, and we're all looking forward to it as we know that there's just another step to the final," the 29-year-old told UEFA.com. "We've always had to [play the second leg away] this season, against PSV, Anderlecht and Standard. We've managed to come through that, and we don't think that it's going to be a problem."
The way Bruno Labbadia's man performed at a packed Maurice Dufrasne stadium will have given them heart for their visit to London. A slender 2-1 first-leg advantage was bolstered by Petrić's 20th-minute opener, and after Igor De Camargo had infused a hint of belief in the hosts with an equaliser on 33 minutes, the airborne Petrić connected sweetly with Dennis Aogo's cross almost immediately to sap Standard's morale.
"It's not the kind of goal I score very often, and I'm delighted that everything just clicked into place in terms of contact with the ball. I knew from the way it sounded that it was going in," said Petrić, whose replacement, José Paolo Guerrero, added the gloss of a third goal in added time. "We really played well. We didn't give them many opportunities and we let the ball do the running. We dominated our opponents, and the only time Standard were dangerous was from set pieces."