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Atlético's Falcao: 'dream come true'

Labelled Club Atlético de Madrid's "tiger" by team-mate Juanfran, Falcao said it was a lesson he was taught as a pup that underpinned his match-winning performance against Athletic Club.

Atlético's Falcao reflects on a 'dream come true'
Atlético's Falcao reflects on a 'dream come true' ©UEFA.com

The superlatives flowed around Falcao in Bucharest on Wednesday after two expertly taken first-half goals set Club Atlético de Madrid on course for UEFA Europa League glory over Athletic Club. But, countered the striker, he was simply doing what he was told.

The game was seven frenetic minutes old when the Colombian international collected Diego's pass, checked on to his left foot and, when Fernando Amorebieta slipped, curled a sumptuous effort beyond the fingertips of goalkeeper Gorka Iraizoz. "I was trying to work some space and when it came I got my shot away," the 26-year-old said. "My dad always said I have to aim for the far post and for the first time I did; he will be happy."

He undoubtedly will and, judging by the celebrations in his homeland that greeted his triumph with FC Porto 12 months ago, so will the rest of Colombia. The switch from Portugal to Spain last summer, Falcao admits, did not gain such universal approval. "When I moved to Atlético many people said I was making a mistake – I've waited for this moment to tell them that the mistake was all theirs, for saying that.

"I can't do justice to just how happy I am. I owe it to the team, they helped me a lot. I think the pressure we managed to put on them when they were on the ball was key, in every area of the pitch. It's a dream come true. I'm just speechless, unable to describe all this: to have won the Europa League with two different clubs, and above all to be the top scorer two years running."

Indeed, Falcao took his tally to 12 goals this term at the National Arena, adding to the record haul of 17 he mustered for Porto last term – 29 goals in as many games in this competition. Atlético team-mate Juanfran says the figures do not lie: "He is an extraordinary player. He is a great person, too, and I hope he will become even bigger at Atlético. Because that's what he does – scoring goals and doing big things at big moments.

"I think we were a bit sharper tonight and we capitalised on all our chances. It helps when you have the 'Tiger' [Falcao] and also Diego. I am very happy for both of them, and for the team as a whole."