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Atlético 1-0 Arsenal (2-1 agg) Europa League 2018: report

Diego Costa scored for Atleti on the brink of half time to edge past Arsenal and in to the final of the Europa League.

Atlético 1-0 Arsenal (2-1 agg) Europa League 2018: report

Diego Simeone arched backwards and pumped his arms in to the sky as Atlético sealed a place in the Europa League final for the first time since 2012. Diego Costa scored the winning goal on the brink of half-time in a tie that the LaLiga side always controlled. Marseille await in the final after overcoming Salzburg in extra-time. 

The Argentine coach, banished to a corporate box for his misdemeanors during the first leg, paced up and down like a caged animal throughout the match, a bundle of repressed energy. His team combined that zeal with rigid organisation to knock Arsenal out of Europe and deny Arsene Wenger a trophy to his spell at the club. There is a compelling case that Atlético are the only elite club in Europe that truly understand the mechanics and the structure of astute defence. “That’s what we’re there for, to defend,” Diego Godín said nonchalently. 

The match was attritional for swathes of the first half, which given their aptitude for the nitty-gritty, suited Atlético. The breakthrough came in added time. Jan Oblak recovered from a heavy first touch and launched the ball long towards Antoine Griezmann. He exchanged a one-two with Thomas Partey before carving Arsenal open with a weighted ball in to the path of Diego Costa. The burly forward held off Hector Bellerin and chipped the ball over David Ospina. It was a goal that exhibited the best of Atlético’s incision, and the very worst of Arsenal’s systemic slackness.

Arsenal enjoyed prolonged spells of possession in the second half but failed to convert that in to clear chances. This was Arsene Wenger’s 250th European match as a manager and it will be his last. Sadly, it was a performance that encapsulated how stale his side has become. He will have no fairytale end to his time in London and Atlético will relish spoiling the party. As Godín would say: “That’s what we’re there for”.

Atletico Madrid 1-0 Arsenal (2-1 agg)


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