Guardiola: qualifying in Bilbao is the news

22:11, January 06, 2011      

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FC Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola made no attempt to hide his relief that his side has reached the last eight of Spain's Copa del Rey knockout competition.

Barcelona went through by virtue of the way goals rule following an epic cup tie in Athletic Bilbao's San Mames Stadium on Wednesday night.

Eric Abidal's goal 15 minutes from time was cancelled out by Fernando Llorente's equalizer five minutes from the final whistle, but following a 0-0 in Barcelona before Christmas, the 1-1 draw was enough to take Barca into the quarter-finals.

Speaking in sports paper AS on Thursday, Guardiola praised his side's rivals and the incredible atmosphere in the San Mames Stadium.

"It has been an honor to play in this ground and with this atmosphere. I think that despite all we have done in recent seasons, it is a great piece of news that we have qualified against this team (Athletic) and in this atmosphere. I was an incredibly tough test," said Guardiola.

Barcelona's win should give them a reasonably direct route to the final, but Guardiola insisted his players would take nothing for granted. He also praised Abidal, who had scored what was only the second goal of his career.

"We all applauded him in the dressing room. He deserves it more than anyone," said the Barcelona coach.

Source: Xinhua
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