Adi Hutter was left disappointed and hurt after Eintracht Frankfurt were denied a spot in the Europa League final on penalties, though he swiftly turned his attention to Champions League qualification.
Frankfurt’s fairytale European run was dramatically ended at Stamford Bridge, where the Bundesliga side lost 4-3 on penalties to Chelsea following Thursday’s 1-1 draw.
Luka Jovic’s 10th Europa League goal of the campaign and 27th in all competitions cancelled out Ruben Loftus-cheek’s opener and levelled the tie 2-2 on aggregate, eventually forcing extra time and penalties.
But the German team were unable to complete the comeback in London as Kepa Arrizabalaga saved two spot-kicks to send Chelsea through to a decider against Arsenal in Baku.
“I would like to congratulate Chelsea, of course we are very disappointed that our dream didn’t come true,” Frankfurt head coach Hutter told reporters.
“We wanted to get to the final. The penalty shoot-out showed we couldn’t make it but I am very proud of my team and they gave everything and we almost beat Chelsea. It hurts but we have to be proud.”
While Frankfurt’s Europa League campaign is over, Hutter’s men still have plenty to play for in the Bundesliga, with Champions League qualification on the line.
Frankfurt are fourth with two matches remaining – only ahead of Bayer Leverkusen on goal difference following last week’s 6-1 humiliation.
Hutter continued: “The disappointment is very big, the heads are hanging low. It was a dream to get to the final, that didn’t happen.
“You have to get the boys up again and be proud of what they have done. We have the chance in the Bundesliga to reach the Champions League.”
“We have to pick ourselves up and play Mainz, that we have to win so the players had 120 minutes and we have to recuperate,” the Austrian said. “There has been criticism that the team are tired, we have focused on the Europa League but we have to use the four days for the next game and I am very proud.”
On Frankfurt’s Europa League campaign, Hutter added: “It was fantastic. The performance we had, six wins and knocked out some Champions League teams and we almost embarrassed the top team at home, but we have nothing to show for it. It was a sensational international campaign, the fans were wonderful and we know what they are like.”