Hodgson hails ‘special’ players

Fulham manager Roy Hodgson is hoping his players can produce one more magical performance after reaching the final of the Europa League on Thursday evening.

Hodgson's plucky Cottagers have already startled many during their special adventure by seeing off current holders Shakhtar Donetsk, Italian giants Juventus and Bundesliga champions Wolfsburg.

Then on Thursday, they beat another German outfit Hamburg 2-1 at Craven Cottage after falling behind to Mladen Petric's opener.

Goals from Simon Davies and Zoltan Gera made sure their fairytale continued and they will now face Atletico Madrid, who conquered Premier League rivals Liverpool on the away goals rule, in the Hamburg showpiece.

Now, wily coach Hodgson has challenged his unassuming stars to go the whole hog and land the top prize.

Speaking to reporters, he said:"It is difficult to put into words because there are only so many superlatives you can use.

"They have constantly lifted the barrier and then jumped over it and you can't normally expect players to do that.

"We are always trying to push players to their limits and take them further than even they think they can go, but when they then achieve that it is something the players should be extremely proud of.

"I am lucky that this group of players has blended very well and they do seem to have a great affinity to each other and a lot of mutual respect.

"I always feel that when I say the usual cliches about people working harder and encouraging each other, this group of players is actually going to do that."

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