UEFA Europa League – Atlético-Arsenal – Atlético take final slot as Arsenal miss their cue
Atlético Madrid are through to their fifth major UEFA club competition final since 2010 after Diego Costa’s first-half finish heralded the end of Arsène Wenger’s European coaching career with Arsenal.
Wenger was taking charge of his 250th UEFA club competition game, but his side struggled to find a performance to match the occasion. The Gunners dominated possession, but Atlético went close through Koke and Antoine Griezmann before the Frenchman’s pass invited Diego Costa to charge into the box in added time. He held off Hector Bellerin as he clipped the ball past David Ospina and into the net.
Calum Chambers put in fine challenges to deny Diego Costa and Griezmann after the interval, Arsenal once more hard pushed to break down their hosts. It took until after the hour mark for Gunners to draw a save from Jan Oblak, Granit Xhaka’s low effort pushed round his post. Henrikh Mkhitaryan drove over shortly after coming on, but a final Arsenal onslaught never quite materialised, Atlético’s game-management skills ultimately taking them all the way to Lyon.
Rugged and dependable, Diego Costa scored the only goal and was the fastest FedEx Performance Zone riser of the evening.
Canny Atlético muscle their way to Lyon
And the proverbial roof comes off the Estadio Metropolitano! Atlético have ground it out and deservedly progress to the final. While they might have sealed the deal tonight, this tie was won last Thursday when a heroic rearguard action saw them somehow restrict a rampant Arsenal to just one goal, Griezmann’s equaliser proving crucial. Tremendous stuff from the Rojiblancos.
Joe Walker, Atlético reporter
Wenger walks away with nothing
If ever there were a side designed to play party-poopers, then it’s Atlético. The Gunners did their best to give Wenger a memorable European farewell, but against the savvier, more streetwise Atlético, they came up short. Ultimately, the Gunners will reflect – and Wenger, more so – on the defensive lapse late on in north London that gave Atleti the crucial away goal.
Dan Thacker, Arsenal reporter
- Atlético have not conceded a goal at home since January – 12 games in total
- Wenger leaves Gunners having never won a major European trophy
- Atlético can win the UEFA Europa League for a third time in the Lyon final