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Bielsa delight as Athletic touch new heights

Marcelo Bielsa hailed Athletic Club's display in beating Sporting Clube de Portugal as the best of his reign, while Ricardo Sá Pinto said his players had done Sporting proud.

Bielsa delight as Athletic touch new heights
Bielsa delight as Athletic touch new heights ©UEFA.com

Marcelo Bielsa, Athletic coach
The prospect of the final makes us all happy. The key was the individual level of every player and the maturity and knowhow shown by these young footballers. With respect to our style, I don't think it has anything to do with age but with a conviction to follow a determined way of playing.

When the game finished I was delighted for them because they've put in an enormous effort and a massive commitment to deserve this victory; I was also delighted for the fans because these games put an onus on the supporters. They want to be able to celebrate but there's also a fear of failure, yet they showed an appreciation and a gratitude for the players' effort.

I can recall certain individual performances better than today's but not a collective level with everyone performing equally. [Fernando] Llorente played better than I've seen since I came here and Ibai [Gómez] too. What has happened is down to what the team gave – each and every one of them.

Ricardo Sá Pinto, Sporting coach
It is very hard to lose like we've lost tonight. Our expectations were to qualify for the final and we worked towards that. We were outstanding during this competition, with enough quality, organisation and spirit to reach the final.

We experienced many difficulties with Athletic's high balls, with what is a very aggressive team. However, I think we did the club proud and the tie was decided by minor details in the end. I want to congratulate my players for these two matches; indeed, for the whole of our campaign in this competition.