If it was to be Antoine Griezmann’s last game in an Atletico Madrid shirt then it was a fitting farewell. The Frenchman was at his brilliant best as he score a brace and played a part in another as Atletico romped to a 3-0 victory over Marseille in the Europa League Final in Lyon.
The Frenchman is being heavily linked with a move to long-time rivals Barcelona, very much to the annoyance of his current employers. But there was little to be annoyed with on this evening when Griezmann gave everybody a stark reminder as to why he is being so heavily courted by Europe’s best.
It was also an emotional night for Fernando Torres who will be leaving Atletico for the second and final time in the summer when his contract expires. He came on in stoppage time to a chorus of cheers from the travelling Atletico support and finally got his hands on his first trophy with his boyhood club.
Marseille started the game on the front foot, the crowd packed into the Stade des Lumieres gave the contest the feel of a home game for the French outfit. It was Marseille who carved out the first big chance of the match. Dimitri Payet, who would later be reduced to tears after aggravating a hamstring injury, slide through a well-weighted ball into Valere Germain, the striker shaped up to shoot but bent his effort over from ten yards out and gave the Spanish visitors the wakeup call they needed.
Atletico, the footballing predators of the knock-out stages of Continental competitions, struck on the 21st minute to quieten to raucous Marseille fanbase. A Steve Mandanda pass was awfully controlled by Andre Zambo Anguissa. From there, Griezmann was fortuitously played in off a Gabi ricochet. There was little fortuitous about the Frenchman’s finish, however. He slotted the ball into the back of the net and wheeled away for his trademark Fortnite celebration.
Ten minutes later Marseille’s fortunes soured further with Payet laying on the turf massaging his hamstring. Tears ran down his face as he departed, knowing his final was over and he is now left to sweat as to his fitness ahead of the World Cup.
The second Atletico goal came four minutes into the second half. And it came from another Marseille mistake in which they were made to pay for. Marseille failed to get the ball under control from their throw-in and Atletico pounced upon the loose ball and fed it to Griezmann who executed a delicate lob over a hapless Mandanda in the most cold-blooded fashion.
From that point on Atletico gained a stranglehold on the game and suffocated the life out of Marseille. Florian Thauvin failed to produce his best and Lucas Ocampos showed off plenty of neat touches and tricks but, ultimately, failed to find the right final ball in the areas where it mattered.
Substitute Kostas Mitroglou had a header crash back off the inside of the post in the 80th minute which represented Marseille’s last chance.
Atletico captain Gabi completed the night with a well-struck finish in 89 minutes – again Griezmann was involved. Girezmann played a ball into Diego Costa and the brutish striker forced his way into the box before squeezing the ball back to Gabi who beat Mandanda for Atletico’s third of the evening.
It is the Spanish side’s third triumph in the competition in it’s short ten year history. Their attentions will now turn summer recruitment and trying to resist offers from Europe’s superpowers for their key players.
Jan Oblak has also been subject to speculation with several teams on the lookout for a world-class goalkeeper. There is also the matter of a job opening at Arsenal and the increasing likeliness that there will be another one at Chelsea. Diego Simeone will be a manager in high demand after claiming his sixth trophy as manager of Los Rojiblancos in a typically controlled fashion in France.