Atletico Madrid wins Europa league title
Radamel Falcao decided the Europa League final for the second
year in a row, scoring twice in the first half Wednesday to lead
Atletico Madrid to a 3-0 victory over Athletic Bilbao in an
Atletico captured its second title in three seasons, while
Falcao won consecutive trophies with two different sides, having
scored the only goal in the final for Porto last year.
He netted a spectacular opener in the seventh minute of this
final and then added a second in the 34th. Diego completed
Atletico’s win in the 85th.
”It’s incredible. I give thanks to God because he gave me this
gift that few players ever have the chance to experience,” Falcao
said. ”Today I scored two goals with my left foot – my right one I
used as support.”
Falcao also topped the competition’s scoring chart for the
second straight year, and the Colombia striker now has 29 goals in
29 games over two seasons in the Europa League.
He was brought in as a replacement for Sergio Aguero, when the
striker left Atletico for Manchester City.
”When I came to Atletico, I said I was going to win titles,”
said Falcao, nicknamed ”El Tigre.”
Atletico coach Diego Simeone said he’s admired Falcao since his
days as a boy at River Plate.
”He has no ceiling in terms of his ambition as a player. But I
hope he stays with us,” Simeone said.
Simeone got the better of his former mentor Marcelo Bielsa.
Simeone played for Argentina when Bielsa was the national team
Atletico, which beat Fulham in the final two years ago, won its
last 12 matches in this season’s competition.
Atletico dominated the final before 52,347 mostly Spanish fans,
who were hard to distinguish since both teams have red and white
colors. Bilbao, being the ”away” team for the occasion, wore
”There was a huge difference between the two teams,” Bielsa
said. ”They imposed their style of play and we did the contrary.
They deserved to win, but we can play much better than the
scoreline indicates. … I am disappointed, the players are
devastated. I am responsible for the performance of my team. We
defended badly and attacked poorly.”
Falcao struck his first after a good through ball from Diego.
The striker was confronted by Fernando Amorebieta but the Bilbao
defender slipped, lost a step and Falcao curled an unstoppable
left-foot shot inside the far post in the upper right corner.
”My father always told me to aim for the far post – he’ll be
happy,” Falcao said.
His second came after another error by Amorebieta, who carried
the ball outside of his penalty box but carelessly lost it again to
Mario Suarez, and Arda Turan collected it to set up Falcao. The
striker deftly turned a defender and slotted the ball into the roof
of the net from close range.
Amorebieta’s miserable evening got even worse when he was easily
rounded by Diego for the final goal.
Fernando Llorente had the first opportunity for Bilbao in the
29th, when he connected with a cross from Ander Herrera, but the
striker did not have good control and put his shot wide.
The match was then briefly interrupted when two young fans ran
onto the pitch but were hustled away by security personnel.
While Atletico controlled the early part of the match, Bilbao
got back in after Llorente’s opportunity and Iker Muniain had a
shot blocked by Thibaut Courtois.
Diego missed narrowly early in the second half, while substitute
Inigo Perez nearly caught Courtois off guard with a looping free
kick from about 35 meters (yards) out.
Ibai Gomez, another Bilbao substitute, had a good effort go high
in the 71st, as did Oscar de Marcos a few minutes later, with
A deflected shot by Markel Susaeta went close but wide of
Atletico’s goal as Bilbao sought to score and Susaeta again had a
close-range shot blocked by Courtois.
On the other side, Atletico got more space to counterattack and
Falcao hit the right post in the 80th.
In the last occasion of the match, Ibai Gomez struck the
crossbar in injury time.
Only three other non-European coaches have won a major UEFA
competition, and all three were Argentines: Luis Carniglia with
Real Madrid, Helenio Herrera with Inter Milan and Alfredo di
Stefano with Valencia.
Simeone became the third man to win the competition as coach and
player. He played for the Inter Milan side that won the 1998 title,
then known as the UEFA Cup. Dino Zoff won in 1977 with Juventus
(beating Bilbao in the final) as a player and in 1990 as the coach.
Huub Stevens won with PSV Eindhoven in 1978 and as coach of Schalke
Atletico: Thibaut Courtois; Diego Godin, Filipe Luis, Adrian
Lopez (Eduardo Salvio, 88, Miranda, Mario Suarez, Arda Turan
(Alvaro Dominguez, 90), Gabi, Diego (Koke, 90), Juanfran,
Athletic: Gorka Iraizoz; Jon Aurtenetxe (Ibai Gomez, 45),
Fernando Amorebieta, Andoni Iraola, Ander Iturraspe (Inigo Perez,
45), Oscar de Marcos, Javi Martinez, Ander Herrera (Gaizka Toquero,
63), Javi Martinez, Iker Muniain, Markel Susaeta, Fernando