Athletic Bilbao managed to fulfill their ambition in reaching the Europa League final this season after successfully turning their 2-1 deficit in the first leg with a 3-1 victory over Portuguese representatives, Sporting Lisbon, at San Mames stadium.
Marcelo Bielsa’s side should be thanking their main striker, Fernando Llorente, for the success as the Spanish international was the one who netted in the decisive goal only two minutes from time.
Being one of the public favorites in the competition, Bilbao seems to have that little bit responsibility in advancing into the final as they were very aggressive and determined right from kick off. After creating several chances through Llorente, the home team eventually made their fans joyful in the 17th minute when Markel Susaeta’s left foot shot storm through Sporting’s goal, giving the advantage for Bielsa’s side.
That goal made things more interesting as Sporting started to push up a bit more, giving a very tense atmosphere at San Mames as the home team were looking much more careful as they don’t want to lose their lead easily. Unfortunately for Bilbao, their fear came through just one minute from the break as the Portuguese outfit regain control of the aggregate after Ricky van Wolfswinkel netted the equalizer for his side.
However, it didn’t take long for Bilbao to respond as a minute later, Ibrai Gomez grabbed the home team’s second and also tied the aggregate 3-3, opening the possibility of extra time along with penalty shoot out. The second half gets more exciting as both teams are not afraid to go forward, especially the home team which are known for their free flowing attacking football under Bielsa guidance. Just as when the match looked to be heading for extra time, luck finally swings on the Basque outfit’s favor as Llorente netted the third goal and broke Sporting’s heart.