Fernando Llorente praised the efforts of Athletic Bilbao’s five debutants against Hapoel Kiryat Shmona, but lamented his side’s luck this season.
Llorente started his second game in a row for the Basques and, as the most experienced member of the team, captained the side in their eventual 2-0 win in this rearranged fixture.
“I am proud to have been captain with so many young players here, I felt important,” commented the No 9, who opened the scoring on the night.
Marcelo Bielsa, with Athletic already eliminated from the competition, handed debuts to youth team players Alvaro Pena, Aymeric Laporte, Erik Moran, Iker Undabarrena and Jon Xabier Vida.
“The kids have been great, they have done very well to get themselves involved with the rest of the group,” continued Llorente.
“We have had a very enjoyable day. I’m delighted for them, they were prepared to make this jump to the first team.”
The youngster featured heavily in a game that meant little for last season’s competition finalists, with Lyon and Sparta Prague the two sides from their group to progress.
“This competition has been a little unjust to us, we deserved more than it has provided us with.”