As was often the case in the past, finals are occasions that are hyped up by the media and never hold up to their initial promise. This game started brightly with Falcao scoring just after 7 minutes after which the game became a dull event. The highlights of the game were the goals by Falcao and Diego as well as the pressure Bilbao built up during periods of the game. It was not to be as Madrid secured their second UEFA Europa League trophy in three years.
Atletico’s quick start and subsequent dominance
Just as every one expected a dull game, Atletico appeared to not having read the script and scored. And it had to be Falcao, of course. Mr. Europa League, scoring his 11th goal of the season as soon as the 7th minute. He received the ball on the left hand side of the area, ran a few yards, dummied his opponent and let loose a curled shot into the top right hand corner, the keeper had no chance. After that Atletico looked comfortably while Bilbao looked shocked and clueless. It was not until the 20 minute that Bilbao mounted something of challenge when their pressure seemed relentless and a goal for Bielsa’s men was almost palpable. Alas, it was not to happen, quite the opposite in fact. And once more it was Falcao, this time scoring from close range. Bilbao still had no answer to Atletico’s composure and looked like headless chickens. Yet Bilbao have come back from behind in previous ties and there were not to be written off after their admittedly atrocious first half.
Tame Bilbao, Cool Atletico, Diego seals it
As expected, Bilbao came out for the second half all guns blazing but their pressure remained unrewarded as their effort caused no sweat for Atletico. Not just was the midfield of Madrid playing comfortably to hold off all attacks Bilbao might have thrown forward. If they just had. Their passing, their triangular movements for which Marcelo Bielsa and thus them, have been famous for this season, was somehow missing. Clearly the occasion got to them and Atletico clearly dominated the match. If however, Bilbao had a chance, Madrid were saved by their superb keeper Curtois. He denied Susaeta in two occasions and mastered his box with calmness and experience throughout the match. It was Diego, once of Werder Bremen who put the game beyond Bilbao’s reach with a shot from the left which saw the keeper Iraizoz stretch to no avail. It caused Muniain to shed tears just like Paul Gascoigne did in Turin in 1990.
This final was not a great one but nonetheless it was entertaining to see one side to keeping their lead and the other trying to get a chance and a goal to get back into the game. Atletico deserved it, no doubt. Bilbao were all the rage this season but this game, maybe this stage was a bit too much for this side. Hopefully they come back next season with the same team.