Athletic Bilbao Vs. Sporting Lisbon, 2012 Europa League: Final Score 3-1 Athletic, Last Minute Llorente Goal Sees Hosts Through

Athletic Bilbao advance to the Europa League after a 3-1 thriller at the San Memes. With Sporting Lisbon having come from behind to win the first leg 2-1, the hosts needed at least a goal to get to Bucharest. The got it in the 17th minute, with Susaeta hitting a volley into the ground and past Rui Patricio following a clever knock-down from Fernando Llorente.

Sporting always looked dangerous though, and Ricky van Wolfswinkel seemed to have ensured that the tie would enter halftime with the balance tipped in his team's direction when he slammed a 44th minute leveller in from 15 yards to clinch a vital away goal and put the visitors 3-2 up on aggregate. That lead lasted all of a minute - Llorente played in Ibai Gomez and the forward finished deftly to make things all square.

That was the state of play for most of the second half. Athletic were the better side and nearly took the lead when Llorente rattled the post with a good header from a corner kick, but Sporting were always threatening to break whenever their hosts attacked, and another goal for the Portuguese would have left Athletic needing to score two. It made for a tense, slightly cagey affair - the second half didn't reach the heights of the first by any means, but it also meant that any goal was going to be an absolutely monumental one.

So it proved in the 89th minute. The home side kept hold of possession, gently probing Sporting for several minutes until an opening appeared. One eventually did, and in a flash Gomez was in down the left, crossing for Llorente to head off the post and in for the 3-1 lead, taking the score to 4-3 on aggregate. Sporting threw bodies forward in injury time, knowing that a goal meant that they would go through on the away goals rule, but Athletic held out, and they'll now head to the final to meet Atletico Madrid on May 9th.

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