Hamburg devastated as dream dies

Just 14 minutes from reaching the final in their own stadium, Hamburger SV are coming to terms with a last-four loss to Fulham FC that Mladen Petrić said was his "biggest disappointment".

Mladen Petrić's opening free-kick proved to be in vain
Mladen Petrić's opening free-kick proved to be in vain ©Getty Images

Hamburger SV forward Mladen Petrić said their UEFA Europa League exit at the hands of Fulham FC was "the biggest disappointment" of his career.

The German visitors looked set to earn a place in the final at their own stadium when Petrić's superb free-kick gave them a first-half lead at Craven Cottage. However, needing to score twice due to Hamburg's away goal, Fulham duly did just that in the last 21 minutes to win 2-1 on aggregate.

"Up until our opening goal we had our opponents under control," Petrić said. "Then, unfortunately, we retreated into our shell more and more and rarely pushed forward. We were seldom able to change this situation. It is the biggest disappointment I've ever seen."

Captain David Jarolím was denied by Fulham goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer when he had a great chance to make it 2-0 two minutes before the equaliser and the Hamburg midfielder shared Petrić's sense of desolation. "This defeat so close to our target is difficult to put into words," the Czech Republic midfielder said. "We had a lot of chances, scored a goal and didn't allow the Londoners much sight of goal. In the end there were two moments that left us on 'losers' street'. I am just incredibly sorry for our fans that the dream we shared has ended here."

Ricardo Moniz, who only took over as Hamburg caretaker coach on Monday, was philosophical. "It is a sad evening for us but we just didn't do what we needed," he said. "It was totally quiet. Nobody spoke or blamed each other. Maybe we wanted it too much. But if you lose a game you didn't do well enough and that's that."