Europe: Europa League
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By Rune Gjerulff@runegjerulff

Alonso reflects on painful defeat, explains Wirtz substitution

Following Bayer Leverkusen's defeat to Atalanta in the Europa League final, head coach Xabi Alonso reflected on the painful defeat. He also explained why he took off attacking talisman Florian Wirtz in the second half.


Xabi Alonso says it will be a challenge for his Bayer Leverkusen side to deal with the pain caused by their 3-0 defeat to Atalanta in the Europa League final on Wednesday night.

“It hurts, for sure, but we need to use this pain in a positive way. It's quite exceptional what we have achieved and we have to be proud. We will learn,” the Leverkusen coach told reporters after the game.

"We had a big chance and we put everything toward today, but it didn't go as planned. We were not at our best level: everyone, myself included. So we will learn from today. It's going to be a challenge, how we respond to defeat and deal with the pain."

Attacking talisman Florian Wirtz returned to Leverkusen's starting line-up after struggling with injury for some time and was eventually substituted in the 81st minute.

Explaining the substitution, Alonso insisted it had nothing to do with an injury setback.

"Florian Wirtz was fine. In the last month we have been cautious with him and maybe he was missing a bit of game time, but he was fine and no excuses."

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