Cosmin Contra said "nights like that make football special" after his ten-man Getafe CF side were denied a semi-final place at the death by FC Bayern München.
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The Romanian's last-minute goal in Bavaria seven days prior to the rematch in Madrid drew the tie level at 1-1 and raised Getafe's hopes going into the return leg. Contra opened the scoring at the Coliseum Alfonso Peréz only for Franck Ribéry to level in the last seconds of normal time. With four goals scored in extra-time, including Luca Toni's 120th minute header that brought the tie level at 4-4, it was the Spanish side that went out. "It might not seem fair, but that's football isn't it?" Contra declared afterwards.
Down to ten men following Rubén de la Red's dismissal for a trip on Miroslav Klose after six minutes of the match, the home team maintained their composure against the 2001 UEFA Champions League winners and it was that courage that brought praise from the 32-year-old Contra. "I've played alongside many players and have sat in the dressing rooms of some big teams but when I see the way this lot have fought I have to take my hat off to them," he said. "To be honest it really hurts to draw with just seconds to go. When we put in a performance like that - especially with ten players - we thought the match was ours."
Big games ahead
Contra and his colleagues must now lift themselves for the Primera División visit of Real Zaragoza on Sunday and the Copa del Rey final on 16 April against Valencia CF. "At the very least we still have an opportunity to lift a trophy and I think that that is something the entire dressing room deserves because of the hard work we always put in," he said. "I am so proud of all of them. We are going to suffer in the next couple of days but we know we have big games coming up so it's important we lift ourselves quickly."
Suggestions that Getafe were being backed by the whole of Spain to reach the semi-finals were supported by the presence at the Coliseum of King Juan Carlos I and his son Prince Felipe. Despite that, Contra insisted: "The Spanish public aren't feeling worse than us because we know how close we were to reaching the semi-finals."