Diego Forlán was able to savour a priceless match-winner after his strike propelled Club Atlético de Madrid into the last 16 of the UEFA Europa League in a 2-1 win at Galatasaray AŞ.
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Diego Forlán was able to savour a priceless match-winner after his last-gasp strike propelled Club Atlético de Madrid into the last 16 of the UEFA Europa League in a 2-1 win against ten-man Galatasaray AŞ.
The Uruguayan striker, a surprising choice for the substitutes' bench when the match got under way, supplied the decisive finish in the 90th minute to silence a passionate crowd at the Ali Sami Yen. A week on from a 1-1 draw in Madrid, the tie looked destined for extra time after Simão's 63rd-minute opener for Atlético and Kader Keita's rapid response, but Caner Erkin's 82nd-minute red card handed the advantage to the visitors and they did not pass it up. With seconds remaining, Forlán found time and space to collect a slide-rule service from José Antonio Reyes, jink past his marker and fire a low shot beyond former Atlético goalkeeper Leo Franco.
"It was a nice goal," the Uruguayan said. "We needed to win and get through to the next stage. I'm really happy to have done it for the team." The electric atmosphere created by the home fans, along with Galatasaray's initial away-goal advantage, meant this was always going to be a tough match for Quique Sánchez Flores's charges. "We played a really good game," said Forlán. "We knew it was going to be very difficult here and we got through – so we're really happy. It was a good atmosphere but I come from South America and you have to go and see how the fans are there. I think they're better."
Forlán, who has blossomed in the Spanish Liga since a difficult spell in the Premier League with Manchester United FC, made light of the fact that he had not been in the starting lineup and only entered the fray shortly before half-time due to an injury to Sergio Agüero. "It's a team, we're playing too many games and some players have to stay on the bench," he said. "It's the coach's decision. And that's it."
However, like the rest of the side, Tomáš Ujfaluši was certainly glad that Forlán was given his chance, albeit after an injury. "He's one of our most important players," the Czech Republic defender said. "It's nice [to have won] and it's even better to win a game in the last minute."