SCP Sporting's Stijn Schaars (top) goes for the ball in front of Athletic Bilbao's Javi Martinez (bottom) during their Europa League clash at the San Mames stadium in Bilbao, northern Spain.

Bilbao - Athletic Bilbao moved within touching distance of a first continental trophy when they beat Sporting 3-1 on Thursday to go through to next month's Europa League final 4-3 on aggregate.

Towering striker Fernando Llorente was the hero for the Basque club in the semi-final second leg at the San Mames, creating their first two goals and volleying in the crucial strike in the 88th minute.

After Sporting fought back to win last week's first leg in Lisbon 2-1, Markel Susaeta put the home side ahead in the 17th minute, Ricky van Wolfswinkel levelled for the Portuguese in the 44th and Ibai Gomez made it 2-1 in first-half added time.

Bilbao will play La Liga rivals and 2010 winners Atletico Madrid in the final in Bucharest on May 9 after Diego Simeone's side completed a 5-2 aggregate victory over Valencia. - Reuters