"I am incredibly proud of the players and happy with the win, which is historic for the club," said Gefle IF coach Pelle Olsson after his side overturned a 3-0 deficit to progress.
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Without a win in their last 13 Swedish top-flight games dating back to April, Gefle IF could have been forgiven for thinking their UEFA Europa League campaign was over after a 3-0 second qualifying round first-leg defeat at Anorthosis Famagusta FC. However, two goals in the last five minutes of Thursday's return match completed a remarkable 4-0 victory and earned a date with Azerbaijan's Qarabağ FK.
Gonzalo García's penalty and a Roberto Colautti double set the Cypriot side on their way to a handsome triumph last week but the tables were emphatically turned in the sequel at Sundsvall's Norrporten Arena. Jakob Orlov gave the hosts a glimmer of hope in the 25th minute before Alexander Faltsetas doubled the advantage midway through the second half. Orlov's second four minutes from time meant the tie was headed for extra time until captain Mikael Dahlberg clinched what local newspaper Arbetarbladet described as a "miracle" 4-3 aggregate success.
"I am incredibly proud of the players and happy with the win, which is historic for the club," coach Pelle Olsson told the club's website. "It's worth noting that this was not a bad opponent, half of their players have played senior international football."
Match winner Dahlberg said the prospect of continuing their European adventure, amid a disappointing domestic season which sees them 12th in the Allsvenskan – a point above the relegation places – was just the motivation needed to pull off the win. "This gave us more energy than it took from us," he added. Meanwhile, striker Orlov was already looking forward to the Qarabağ tie on 1 and 8 August. "We're going there [to Azerbaijan] to try to win," he said.