UEFA Europa League – Marseille-Atlético – Griezmann inspires Atlético to Europa League glory
Antoine Griezmann had a homecoming to savour as the France forward struck a goal in each half to earn Atlético a third UEFA Europa League trophy in nine seasons.
Marseille had begun brighter and were well on top midway through the first half when a fateful piece of miscontrol by André Zambo Anguissa close to his own area led to the opening goal. Gabi pounced, sending the alert Griezmann through one-on-one with Steve Mandanda. There was only ever going to be one winner.
OM were winded, and their hopes suffered another huge blow when the talismanic Dimitri Payet, an injury doubt before the game, limped off soon after. The knockout punch came minutes after half-time, a slick move concluding with a brilliant, impudent finish from Griezmann.
The teetering Marseille battled to the end, and almost set up a grandstand finale when substitute Kostas Mitroglou headed against the inside of the post with nine minutes left. But this was Griezmann’s night, even if Gabi did get in on the scoring act late on.
“Antoine is an OM fan,” Payet said in the lead-up to the match. Not on this evidence. Two chances, two goals. Brought up 70km from Lyon, he has made a habit of scoring on his return for Real Sociedad, France and now Atleti – and what better place to capture your first major trophy?
Atlético did what they do best: grinding out results. It did not quite happen for them in the UEFA Champions League but once they came into the UEFA Europa League they never hid their desire to lift the trophy. Thanks to that man Griezmann they have landed a third title in eight years and their remarkable upward trajectory under Diego Simeone continues. Joe Walker
Payet key for OM
Payet is so vital to Marseille’s play that Rudi Garcia had to take a risk on his captain’s fitness. The playmaker showed his class by setting up Valère Germain’s glorious early chance but when he went off injured it soon became apparent that Marseille would really miss their talisman. Thauvin usually feeds off Payet but never got going and despite a late revival, a Marseille defeat appeared inevitable from the moment Payet exited in tears. David Crossan
Antoine Griezmann, Atlético forward: “I’ve been working to experience such a moment for many years. I left home when I was 14 for that. We’ll celebrate. My family is here. Hats off to Marseille, a great team. I don’t know how to describe the finish [for my second goal]; perhaps cold-blooded.”
Diego Simeone, Atlético coach: “It’s been a challenging season and I think the Europa League represents more than a trophy: it’s a victory for everything we stand for, for hard work and industry. We’ve reinvented ourselves in this competition, and against Arsenal [in the semi-finals] we showed what we’re all about. We did so again tonight.”
Rudi Garcia, Marseille coach: “We had the best chance first up [through Germain] and then we made a mistake that cost us a goal. Against a team like Atlético you cannot afford to fall behind. We were out of luck when Mitroglou hit the post. A goal then would have got us back into the match. Atlético are a great team and we have no reason to be ashamed of this loss.”
Adil Rami, Marseille defender: “The final step was too far for us but we fought for everything. We lacked experience. Against a team like this you shouldn’t try to play football. You need to knock it long and high and win second balls. When you try to play and lose the ball against them, that’s when you’re in trouble. The opening goal we conceded was the turning point. Up until then we had troubled their defence.”
- Atlético have moved alongside Internazionale, Juventus and Liverpool on three UEFA Cup/UEFA Europa League triumphs. Only five-time winners Sevilla have more.
Gabi, Diego Godín, Koke and Juanfran enjoyed second final wins having claimed the trophy under Simeone in 2011/12. A substitute tonight, Filipe Luís was also part of both victories.