Hughes proud of Fulham campaign

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The Independent Online

Aaron Hughes believes Fulham can still walk away from this season with their heads held high despite Wednesday's Europa League final defeat to Atletico Madrid.

Diego Forlan ended the Cottagers' fairytale European adventure on Wednesday night when he struck in extra time to deny Fulham their first major trophy in the club's 131-year history.

Fulham accounted for the likes of Juventus, Shakhtar Donetsk and Wolfsburg in an 19-match run which began back in July to make the final in Hamburg.

Hughes has been an integral part of the Cottagers European run, playing in 17 of the games at the heart of the Fulham defence.

He praised the way that the team handled the gruelling campaign and believes the club should be proud of the players' achievements.

"I think we've done the club proud. Everyone has really enjoyed the competition," said the Fulham vice-captain.

"It's been fantastic. I think we've approached it the right way.

"There was never any real pressure on us, which helped us because we just went out and played.

"Everyone was looking elsewhere at the other clubs and that us get on with it. Then all of a sudden we found ourselves in the quarter finals, the semi-finals and then in the final."

"Everyone was disappointed that we didn't get anything from the game but at the same time we've had an excellent season.

"It's just a pity we couldn't cap it off."

Forlan had put Atletico ahead on the half hour before Simon Davies rifled in a well-taken volley to level just before half-time.

The game looked destined for penalties as both sides laboured through the second half and extra time before former Manchester United striker Forlan sealed Fulham's misery in the 116th minute.

Hughes denied that the players had lost their focus towards the end and added that he thought Fulham could have won the match.

"I wouldn't say we were just thinking about penalties," said the 30-year-old.

"We were still concentrating on the few minutes that were left.

"It was just that Forlan did the stuff that he's done all through the competition, he sneaked in and scored a good goal.

"I don't think there was a big difference between the two sides. In the end it was just wasn't our night."

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