Partey, Costa, Griezmann end season as Europa Kings!

May 16, 2018
Griezmann is surrounded by his ecstatic Atletico Madrid team-mates as they take the lead over Marseille in Wednesday’s final

For the two enfant terribles in the recent history of the Premier League, this Europa League final threw up two sorely contrasting evenings.

For Diego Costa, the pitbull of a striker that terrorised Antonio Conte and endured six weeks without pay as he began his season in hiding in his Brazilian hometown, this became a night to justify all his mumbling and grumbling.

After escaping Chelsea, he is back home with the club he adores, the manager, Diego Simeone, who he respects above all and a trophy in his hands once more. He is now certain to form part of the Spain squad at this summer’s World Cup.

As for Dimitri Payet, the dazzling playmaker that stole the hearts of West Ham supporters before tearing them apart, this was a night of heartache.

Antoine Griezmann was the inspiration for Atletico Madrid as he scored twice to seal a famous Europa League triumph

Striker Griezmann clinically finishes past Marseille goalkeeper Steve Mandanda for the opening goal of the European final

Griezmann chips over a diving Mandanda to double Atletico Madrid's lead and put them in touching distance of the final

The Frenchman shows off the same celebration for his second goal as his team-mates walk off to restart the match

 

Antoine Griezmann plays a one-two with Koke before chipping the ball over the goalkeeper. For more from Match Zone, click here.

Antoine Griezmann plays a one-two with Koke before chipping the ball over the goalkeeper

Payet, the Marseille captain, has a similar story to Costa, a similar attachment to a club where he is now in his second spell and he arrived in Lyon yearning to clutch the trophy. As he walked out before the game, Payet committed one of football folklore’s well-established sins, touching the trophy as he passed it by.

Bad luck, that, they say, and so it proved here.

Griezmann celebrates with a specially coordinated dance after he fires Atletico Madrid into the lead after 21 minutes

Griezmann celebrates with a specially coordinated dance after he fires Atletico Madrid into the lead after 21 minutes

Payet saw his team fall a goal behind when Antoine Griezmann profited from an error in the first-half and disappointment turned to agony when he pulled up with a muscular injury shortly afterwards. As he departed the field, tears spilled down his face and with France set to name their World Cup squad on Thursday, the omens do not bode well for one their most gifted individuals.

His French international team-mate and opponent on the night Griezmann consoled Payet on his way off, caressing his cheek and kissing him on the forehead.

Payet had been nursing a thigh injury in the lead-up to the game but insisted in a press conference on Tuesday that he was fit and ready to shine. It is, sadly, a gamble that spectacularly backfired. Payet is now 31 and this was almost certainly his last opportunity to compete at a World Cup.

Marseille fans were in their seats at the Stade de Lyon well before kick-off and let off dozens of flairs as the players came out

Atletico Madrid fans followed suit by taking their seats very early in order to present a mosaic of their club colours

Atletico Madrid fans followed suit by taking their seats very early in order to present a mosaic of their club colours

The players shake hands as smoke from dozens of flares fills the atmosphere with smoke ahead of the Europa League final

The players shake hands as smoke from dozens of flares fills the atmosphere with smoke ahead of the Europa League final

Griezmann is presented with a wonderful chance to score after the ball finds him unmarked on the edge of the box

Griezmann is presented with a wonderful chance to score after the ball finds him unmarked on the edge of the box
For a short while, it had looked a smart decision. Marseille actually started this game the better of the two sides. The French support appeared to occupy vast swathes of the stadium, as tens of thousands made the 200 mile journey up from the south coast of France. They arrived with purpose, setting off flares at the start of the game and creating a thrilling atmosphere with their sea of flags and bouncing, raucous fans.

Fuelled by the adrenalin shots pumped from the terraces, Marseille’s players appeared emboldened. They snapped into challenges, harrying Atletico’s skilful operators such as Angel Correa and Saul Niguez into errors. Inside the opening five minutes, the French side should have taken the lead.

Former Newcastle winger Florian Thauvin, enjoying a remarkable renaissance at Marseille after a torrid time in England, combined beautifully with Payet to carve the Atletico defence open. Valerie Germain was through on goal but his strike was wild and over the bar.

On such misses, European finals are often decided and Atletico are not a side that generally allow opponents too many clear sights of goal. Payet let fly from distance but the movement on the ball did not deceive Jan Oblak in the Atleti goal.

Soon enough, Atletico grew into the game. They began to enjoy more of the territory and shortly after the lead followed.

They held Arsenal at arms’ length in the semi-finals of the competition and here they showcased defensive resilience, organisational nous and a killer instinct.

Marseille's Andre-Frank Zambo Anguissa reacts with a guilty look after giving the ball away that allowed Griezmann to score

Marseille’s Andre-Frank Zambo Anguissa reacts with a guilty look after giving the ball away that allowed Griezmann to score

Marseille fans are silenced after seeing their side fall behind in the Europa League final at the Stade de Lyon on Wednesday

Marseille fans are silenced after seeing their side fall behind in the Europa League final at the Stade de Lyon on Wednesday

Things went from bad to worse for Marseille when Dimitri Payet (second left) was forced off after 30 minutes with an injury

Things went from bad to worse for Marseille when Dimitri Payet (second left) was forced off after 30 minutes with an injury

The former West Ham star left the field in tears as he succumbed to injury and left the field having played just half an hour

Griezmann watches as his shot rolls over Marseille’s goal-line to give him and Atletico Madrid a second goal of the night

Griezmann (centre) is joined by his team-mates as he celebrates his second goal of the Europa League final on Wednesday

Griezmann (centre) is joined by his team-mates as he celebrates his second goal of the Europa League final on Wednesday

Marseille players look dejected after conceding a second goal to Atletico Madrid in Wednesday's Europa League final

Marseille players look dejected after conceding a second goal to Atletico Madrid in Wednesday’s Europa League final

Diego Simeone may have been watching on from the stands – he is still banned from the dugout following his touchline tirade at the Emirates Stadium – but his side are so assured, so cool in how they manage a football game that his absence from touchline became a footnote.

This, remarkably, was the club’s fourth European final in Simeone’s seven years in charge. The Argentine has overseen two Champions League final defeats by Real Madrid but his team previously overcame Athletic Bilbao to lift the Europa League in 2012. Despite this season’s group stage failure in the Champions League, Atletico remain one of the most dangerous and brutal sides on the continent.

For all the attacking potential in this Atletico side, it was a gift of a goal to hand the Spanish side the lead.

Marseille goalkeeper Steve Mandanda played a loose pass from the back and Andre Zambo Anguissa miscontrolled the ball. Atletico’s Gabi swiftly pounced, releasing Antoine Griezmann who sat Mandanda down and stroked the ball into the goal.

Atletico’s fans responded with their own display of sparkly red pyrotechnics and Griezmann, whose own place in the starting line-up had been question by some sections of the Atletico support amid rumours of a move to Barcelona, provided the perfect retort. The Frenchman is a brilliant forward, who combines inspiration and perspiration, making sacrifices for his team while still retaining the ability to conjure moments to define games.

Matters soon became worse for Marseille, as Payet exited the play and in doing so, the pizzazz seemed to leave both the team and those in the stands. The ‘Allez’ choruses became less effusive and Atletico sensed weakness.

Early in the second-half, victory was assured, as Koke slipped a pass through for Griezmann, who clipped a sublime pass over the goalkeeper. If this is to be his farewell, he could hardly have designed it better. Marseille briefly rallied, hitting a woodwork and warming Oblak’s hands but Atletico were always in control and confirmed the triumph when captain Gabi rifled home a late third.

Kostas Mitroglou comes close to getting Marseille back in the game after sending his header crashing against the post

Kostas Mitroglou comes close to getting Marseille back in the game after sending his header crashing against the post

The Greek striker, formerly of Fulham, looks on in disbelief after seeing his effort come so close to pulling a goal back

The Greek striker, formerly of Fulham, looks on in disbelief after seeing his effort come so close to pulling a goal back

Atletico Madrid's Spanish midfielder Koke (L) vies with Marseille's Argentinian forward Lucas Ocampos for possession

Atletico Madrid’s Spanish midfielder Koke (L) vies with Marseille’s Argentinian forward Lucas Ocampos for possession

Jan Oblak, goalkeeper of Atletico Madrid, comes off his line to gather the ball under pressure from Ocampos of Marseille

Jan Oblak, goalkeeper of Atletico Madrid, comes off his line to gather the ball under pressure from Ocampos of Marseille

Adil Rami of Marseille heads the ball towards goal as he attempts to get his side back on terms in the Europa League final

Adil Rami of Marseille heads the ball towards goal as he attempts to get his side back on terms in the Europa League final

A police officer wearing heavy protection stands guard in front of the fans at the Stade de Lyon as the game continues

A police officer wearing heavy protection stands guard in front of the fans at the Stade de Lyon as the game continues

Marseille fans light flares behind the goal of their goalkeeper Steve Mandanda and hold a sign reading 'UEFAMAFIA'

MATCH FACTS, PLAYERS RATINGS AND MATCH ZONE:

MARSEILLE XI: Mandanda, Sarr, Rami, Gustavo, Amavi, Zambo, Sanson, Thauvin, Payet (Lopez 32), Ocampos (N’Jie 55), Germain (Mitroglou 74).

Subs not used: Pele, Sakai, Kamara, Rolando.

Goals:

Bookings: Amavi, Gustavo, N’Jie

Manager: Rudi García

ATLETICO MADRID XI: Oblak, Vrsaljko (Juanfran 46), Gimenez, Godin, Lucas, Correa (Thomas Partey 88), Gabi, Saul, Koke, Griezmann (Torres 90), Costa.

Subs not used: Werner, Filipe Luis, Savic, Gameiro.

Goals: Griezmann 21, 49; Gabi 89

Bookings: Vrsaljko, Lucas

Manager: Diego Simeone

 

Referee: Bjorn Kuipers (Holland)

EDITED FROM: dailymail.co.uk


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