Atletico Madrid romp to Europa title thanks to Falcao double
Fernando Llorente found wanting in 'shootout' with Radamel Falcao
Atletico Madrid 3 Athletic Bilbao 0. Two goals from Radamel Falcao (pictured right) in the first half of the Europa Cup Final eased Atletico Madrid to the title in Bucharest last night.
The Colombian striker, who scored the winner for Porto in last year's final, reproduced his goalscoring touch as Atletico cantered to victory in a one-sided final. Diego scored the third five minutes from time as Bilbao failed to find the form that had seen them defeat Manchester United earlier in the competition.
"When the kids go to school tomorrow they will be able to put on the shirt of Atletico Madrid with pride and this is the most wonderful thing," said Atletico coach Diego Simeone, the former Argentine international famous for getting David Beckham sent off during the 1998 World Cup.
Asked about Falcao's performance, Simeone replied: "Radamel had an extraordinary match but the credit goes to all of the players. We have been mapping the road for them but it is they who accomplish things. This is a great time to remember all those who have trusted in us."
The final had been billed as a shootout between Falcao and Bilbao striker Fernando Llorente but it turned out the latter was firing blanks. Falcao wasn't, however, and he first hit the target on seven minutes with a sweet strike into the top corner of the Bilbao net. His second came just after the half-hour mark when he evaded three defenders and rifled the ball past Gorka Iraizoz. It was his 12th goal of the campaign and he now has 29 Europa League goals to his name, two fewer than the record held by former Feyenoord and Celtic star Henrik Larsson.
Diego added the third late on and Falcao nearly got a hat-trick at the death but the post got in his way. "When I moved to Atletico many people said I was making a mistake," said Falcao later.
"I've waited for this moment to tell them that the mistake was all theirs, for saying that."
Atletico don't have long to savour their success. On Sunday they face Villarreal in the Spanish league, a match they must win if they want to finish fourth and qualify for next season's Champions League.