The Atletco Madrid players hugged as the Arsenal team fell to the floor with all 22 men exhausted, the side in red and white elated with the outfit from North London shattered. The stadium PA struck up the Atletico anthem: “Yo me voy al Manzanares...”. (I'm heading to the Manzanares (home of the former Vicente Calderon stadium). It feels that the old sentiment is finally breeding in the new ground located close to Madrid's main airport and maybe this feeling is akin to that which was felt all those years ago in Atletico's old and original Metropolitano ground. The new arena now has seen the team write a new chapter in club history as they secured their place in another European final and everyone packed into the ground last night will have a memory that will be long lasting.
It was a tense game, with chances limited and a script straight from the pen of Diego ‘El Cholo’ Simeone. The Argentine coach was missing from the dugout serving out his ban as he sat and watched the outcome from one of the guest areas in the first tier of the ground. His presence wasn't needed on the touchline as his men are so well drilled in what their functions are. Atleti were compact, gave no quarter and were able to ride out the pressure exerted from Arsenal , especially in the first half of the contest. Just on the stroke of half-time they struck as Thomas fed the ball through to Griezmann who delivered a perfectly weighted pass to Diego Costa with the striker shrugging off pressure from Bellerin to stroke the ball past Ospina to seal the tie.
First of many
Just one goal was needed to secure a place in the Lyon final for Atleti as Arsenal proved more impotent as the game wore on. The LaLiga side had the game exactly where they wanted and were cheered on by over 60,000 fans who pushed their side with a barrage of non-stop chanting and singing. I finished my article and just at that moment the players reappeared on the pitch again to the delight of the fans who maintained an impressive noise level as flags and scarves were waved by the jubilant supporters who didn't want the night to end. This new and highly impressive stadium, which for some is still difficult to call home, witnessed a wonderful night that will live for a long time in the hearts and minds of Atleti fans. More great night's will come at the Metropolitano stadium, that's for sure, but this was the first.