Monday, April 23, 2018

Europa League: Atletico Madrid 3 Athletic Bilbao 0

SoccerNews in UEFA Europa League 9 May 2012


Atletico Madrid claimed the Europa League title after defeating Athletic Bilbao 3-0 in an all-Spanish final in Bucharest.

A year after scoring the winner in Porto’s Europa League triumph, Colombian striker Radamel Falcao starred for the victors by producing two superb individual goals in the first half.

An equally brilliant clincher from Diego late on ensured Atletico regained the trophy they last won in 2010.

Atletico were on the front foot straight from kick-off, impressing with some incisive link-up play in the attacking third.

The opener arrived after seven minutes, with Falcao bending a sublime effort past Gorka Iraizoz into the top corner.

Bilbao were slow to respond to the setback, and were faced with further danger when Diego dragged a shot wide from the edge of the area.

Fernando Llorente then sliced a close-range volley off target, before Iker Muniain forced Thibaut Courtois into a smart save as Marcelo Bielsa’s Bilbao began to establish a foothold in the match.

But just when they looked to be turning things around, they were taken apart by another moment of quality from Falcao on 34 minutes.

After collecting Arda Turan’s pass, Falcao turned marker Jon Aurtenetxe before blasting home from close range for his 29th Europa League goal in 29 games.

Falcao nearly rounded off his hat-trick on the stroke of half-time after cutting in from the left side, but he only managed to fire over.

Bilbao came storming out after the break and a strong run and cross from Muniain was turned away at the last moment by Diego Godin with Llorente lurking for the tap-in.

Inigo Perez’s tricky cross-cum-shot forced Courtois to tip over as Bilbao slowly began to set up shop deep in the Atletico half.

Another set of chances went begging for Biesla’s side, with both Andoni Iraola and Oscar De Marcos firing over the bar despite being in good positions to score.

Susaeta went even closer with just over 10 minutes to go with a low drive from the right that Courtois did well to beat away.

With Bilbao surging forward they left themselves opened to a counter, with Diego leaving two defenders in his wake before stroking a fine finish across Iraizoz to land the decisive blow.

Ibai produced a late thumper that hit the woodwork, but it was of little consequence as Diego Simeone’s men collected the trophy.


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