Red Bull Salzburg midfielder Xaver Schlager hailed an unforgettable night as the Austrians stunned Lazio to earn an unlikely place in the Europa League semi-finals.
The Serie A side held a 4-2 advantage going into the second leg and Salzburg’s chances of progression looked dead and buried when Ciro Immobile opened the scoring with an exquisite finish after 55 minutes.
However, Moanes Dabbur levelled 84 seconds later to spark a stunning comeback, with three further goals inside four minutes from Amadou Haidara, Hwang Hee-chan and Stefan Lainer sealing a remarkable 6-5 aggregate win.
The Austrian Bundesliga champions will join Arsenal, Atletico Madrid and Marseille in Friday’s semi-final draw and Schlager struggled to overcome his emotions following Salzburg’s heroics.
He told redbullsalzburg.at: “There are indescribable feelings of happiness. In our dressing room, the party is really going on.
“Luckily, we felt that way today. We always believed in it, and that makes a lot of difference. These are wonderful moments for a player. I will never forget.”
Manager Marco Rose was equally impressed and hailed his players for their never-say-die attitude as they became Austria’s first participants in the last four since the beginning of the Europa League era.
Rose said: “A great football night, you can say that. I am very proud of my team. We believed in it, worked hard and hats off to the boys. They deserve it.”
Lazio boss Simone Inzaghi was magnanimous in defeat but rued his side’s profligacy in front of goal as they prepare for the weekend’s Derby della Capitale with Roma, who produced a similarly brilliant comeback against Barcelona two days ago.
He told sslazio.it: “We wanted to get to the semi-finals, but we have little to complain. Honour to Salzburg who deserved to go through.
“We made five shots on goal like Salzburg, but they managed to score four goals unlike us. They were better than us and they deserved the win.
“Today’s challenge will be a lesson for everyone, but it does not detract from our journey in Europe.”