Atlético Madrid 3 Athletic 0: HeartbrokenBy: Jack | May 9th, 2012
Athletic’s dream ends in tears.
Falcao scored in the final last season and did so again as Atléti claimed their second Europa League in three years.
Athletic struggled to get in the game early on and within 7 minutes were behind. Falcao was given too much space and struck a wonderfully hit finish into the top left corner.
It was a nightmare start and thing’s didn’t improve quickly. Passes were frequently misplaced and it seemed the occasion was too big for the young Lions.
Slowly though Athletic found a way back and on 20 minutes Llorente shot just wide. He appeared to scuff the volley and a clean hit may well have seen the ball in the net.
Athletic then managed to have some spells of possession but came up against a solid red and white wall which posed a big danger on the counter. Muniain forced a save from Courtois and De Marcos had a penalty shout after being sandwiched, but it was Atléti who got the second.
Falcao again, this time with a lovely dragback that takes two defenders out before a simple finish. 2-0 and a long way back for our Lions.
At the break Bielsa made two changes with Ibai and Iñigo Perez coming on for Aurtenetxe and Iturraspe. It nearly signalled an instant reply as Muniain forced a clearance which could have been an own goal.
Athletic attacked more and more but faced with a well disciplined defence found it difficult. Passes were still being misplaced and as ideas ran out became increasingly longer.
Toquero replaced Ander on the hour mark as the final throw of the dice and while chances were created their were either blocked by a red and white shirt or spurned.
As the game wore on it felt like it wasn’t going to be our night and this was confirmed with five minutes to go. The ball found Diego on the counter who’s goal sealed both the game and trophy for Atléti. The final whistle signalled tears of sadness from players and fans alike as the club’s long silverware drought continued.
3-0 was possibly an harsh scoreline but Athletic weren’t good enough. It was a poor performance and while against Schalke and Sporting we got away with a slack first half Atléti punished us. The second half got better but the passing and finishing still wasn’t up to scratch.
Atlético deserve credit though. Their defence and tactics were spot on and up front Falcao was excellent. Simeone has transformed the side and look genuine long term top 4 contenders. We were beaten by a better team.
It is also a sad coincidence that we visit the Calderón in two weeks time and will see the European trophy we came so close yet ultimately so far away from today claiming as our own.