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Forlán relieved to find key to victory

He made it look easy in the end but man of the match Diego Forlán told UEFA.com he thought Club Atlético de Madrid would never find a second goal against Fulham FC in Hamburg.

Forlán relieved to find key to victory
Forlán relieved to find key to victory ©UEFA.com

Diego Forlán was just relieved to have avoided the lottery of a penalty shoot-out after his 116th-minute strike clinched victory for Club Atlético de Madrid against Fulham FC in the UEFA Europa League final.

Atlético's two-goal hero told UEFA.com he feared the Spanish side would be unable to break down their English opponents as extra time neared its conclusion in Hamburg. "I didn't want penalties because then it becomes a lottery," said the Uruguayan international forward, who ended this inaugural UEFA Europa League season with six goals in nine games.

"However well you have played, you can always end up losing. The coach told us before extra time that we would get an opportunity. He even told me that I'd get one. But the truth is that it was difficult – we found it really hard to get in behind them and they defended really well."

Even though it was the 30-year-old who finally found the breakthrough from Sergio Agüero's low cross, he insisted that the victory alone was paramount. "It didn't matter who got the goals, I just wanted to win," he said. "Today we were the deserved winners. However, I do love scoring goals as it is something I have dreamed of doing since I was a boy."

In the event, the former Manchester United FC and Villarreal CF front man netted twice, including an instinctive finish after 32 minutes which put Atlético into a short-lived lead. That they finally made it over the finishing line, to bring a first trophy in 14 years back to the Vicente Calderón Stadium, required "a great effort by all the players" according to the match-winner. "We deserved what we got, and we should now enjoy the moment. Then we can prepare for the Copa del Rey final against Sevilla next Wednesday, which will be another tough assignment. But we are hungry for more success."

As well as praising his colleagues, the man of the match also underlined the central role of coach Quique Sánchez Flores: "The gaffer has done great ever since he came in to the job." The Rojiblancos' captain and left-back Antonio López seconded that opinión, explaining how the trainer had revitalised the side since taking charge in October. "Because of him we know what we want and what we are playing for," López told UEFA.com. "He deserves at least half the credit for what we have achieved here."

The skipper also pointed to the contribution of the one constant in Atlético's fortunes – the fans. "Our support is something special," he added. "They make great sacrifices for their team. This success is for them, for all of Spain which tonight was right behind us, and for the club, the players and their families. The fans, though, have been with us through so many tough times and now we have given something back to them. This is their cup."