Our man Jonathan Wilson was in Lyon. Here’s his match report.
With that, this MBM wishes you goodnight. Congratulations to Atletico Madrid, the 2018 Europa League champions. Commiserations to Marseille, for whom the stars never looked like aligning. Spanish teams have now won eight of the last nine Europa League and Champions League trophies on offer.
This victory puts Atletico into joint second place on the Uefa Cup / Europa League roll of honour:
3: Juventus, Internazionale, Liverpool, Atletico Madrid
2: Borussia Monchengladbach, Tottenham Hotspur, Real Madrid, Goteborg, Parma, Feyenoord, Porto
Though if you add in the old Fairs Cup, which Uefa doesn’t, Barcelona and Valencia would be up there on our multiple winners list with three, while Leeds United would join the group on two.
And here come the 2018 Europa League winners: Atletico Madrid! Having lost a couple of Champions League finals in recent seasons, this is a huge release of emotion for quite a few of these players. Fernando Torres, of course, but this is the first trophy Antoine Griezmann has won for Atletico too. Gabi takes possession of the trophy and raises it … generously allowing Torres to share the moment! The red-and-white ticker tape showers down, as the players bounce like they’ve never bounced before.
A few of the Marseille players in tears, as you’d expect in these circumstances. But they’re magnanimous in defeat, too, embracing their opponents and offering congratulations. Plenty of smiling Atletico men, though, as Eric Abidal carries the trophy to the presentation plinth. They form a guard of honour as the officials walk up to receive their medals, but mainly so they can applaud the 2018 Europa League runners-up Marseille. Bittersweet scenes. Poor Dimitri Payet, tears still stinging his eyes, takes off his medal the second it’s draped around his neck. In addition to tonight’s disappointment, his World Cup chances now hang in the balance.
Atletico cavort around the pitch, their fans singing their praises. Though it’s difficult to hear them, because Uefa are blasting some very intrusive music over the PA. Has somebody let Ofenbach back in? Joyous scenes nonetheless! Sad ones for Marseille, though. Atletico were deserved champions, having bossed that match since the 21st minute, when they were gifted the lead by Andre Zambo Anguissa’s terrible mistake. Antoine Griezmann scored two clinical goals, and that was pretty much that, Gabi embellishing the scoreline right at the end. But 0-3 doesn’t tell the whole story: Valere Germain missed a golden opportunity in the early exchanges, Dimitri Payet was forced off injured, and Kostas Mitroglou was so close to scoring with a towering header. It just wasn’t their night.
FULL TIME: Marseille 0-3 Atletico Madrid
And that’s it! Atletico Madrid are the Europa League champions for the third time!
90 min: And to huge, emotional cheers, here comes Fernando Torres! The one-time teenage captain of Atletico replaces the two-goal hero Griezmann. He’s finally going to win a major trophy with the club he’s supported since the age of five!
GOAL! Marseille 0-3 Atletico Madrid (Gabi 89)
This puts the tin lid and pretty bow on it. Atletico stream forward, Marseille having committed too many men forward. Grizemann spreads a pass wide left for Costa, who cuts back for Koke. Koke switches play towards Gabi, coming in from the right. Gabi lashes low and hard, across Mandanda, and into the bottom right. What a goal! What a performance by this wonderfully relentless Atletico Madrid side.
88 min: Atletico make their second change of the night. Partey comes on for Correa. Will we see Torres?
87 min: Not sure how this is still 0-2. First up, Sarr and Rami take turns to gift possession to Atletico, just outside their own box. Diego Costa’s eventual shot is no good. Then up the other end, Njie is teed up just inside the area, but shanks an awful effort out for a throw.
85 min: Marseille’s fans, to their eternal credit, are giving it plenty. It just hasn’t been their team’s night. Unless a story for the ages is about to be written.
83 min: Space for Sarr down the right. But his cutback isn’t all that. The ball’s half cleared. Amavi decides to have a thrash from 25 yards. He sends a sweet fizzer goalwards, through a thicket of players. But Oblak is a model of concentration, and gathers a very difficult low bouncer.
81 min: And the luck’s with them, too. Because Marseille are an inch away from getting back into this final. Sanson curls a cross in from the right. Mitroglou rises highest, ten yards out, and plants a downwards header towards the bottom left. Oblak is beaten all ends up, but the ball bounces off the bottom of the left-hand post, across the face of goal, and is hacked clear. That’s so unfortunate, it was a beautiful header, a combination of power and precision, perfectly timed. It deserved a goal.
80 min: But their heads have gone. A loose pass in the midfield allows Griezmann to scamper goalwards. Nothing comes of that move, but Lucas takes up possession and is barged to the floor by Njie. A free kick, and a chance for Atletico to allow the clock to run down some more. They’ve been ruthless and rather brilliant since being gifted the opener.
78 min: Njie is booked for rather petulantly flicking a hand towards the face of Lucas. Marseille need to calm down if they’re to have any chance of a dramatic comeback.
77 min: Griezmann sends Costa scampering with intent down the inside-left channel. For a second, it looks like he’s shaping to hit a screaming, dipping, diagonal volley towards the right-hand portion of the goal. But he decides against it, and the chance to do something, anything is gone.
76 min: Gustavo is booked after blocking Gabi as the Atletico captain hugs the right touchline. It’s a foul, nothing more, but he’s talked himself into the book for arguing the toss with the linesman. The resulting free kick is wasted.
74 min: Germain, who passed up that early chance for Marseille, is sacrificed for Mitroglou. The last throw of the dice.
73 min: But there’s another one coming along soon enough, as Correa busies himself on the right. This one leads to an extended period of ball-hogging, the highlight of which being a glorious crossfield pass by Diego Costa. Atletico have seized back total control.
71 min: Griezmann curls the set piece into the box. Saul tries to guide a header into the top left. it comes off Gustavo for a corner, from which Koke crosses deep from the left. Mandanda is forced to tip an unpredictable dipper over. Another corner, then, this time on the right. And that one’s nothing to write home about at all.
69 min: Gustavo has a good old hack at Griezmann’s ankles. He should go in the book, but doesn’t. A free kick to Atletico, though, just outside the Marseille box on the left.
67 min: After a very quiet period, Marseille are giving this one last shot. Sanson fights his way down the right and tries to hook into the centre from a tight spot. Not quite: the cross sails over the crossbar. But at least Atletico have been given something to think about.
66 min: From the corner, Njie has a crack, but it’s blocked by Griezmann. And then another phase of attack, as Lopez dinks into the box from deep. The ball drops to Sanson, who leans back and hoicks over.
65 min: This is better from Marseille. Lopez makes space down the right and hooks inside. Thauvin’s header isn’t all that, and Oblak should claim, but Juanfran slices out for a corner instead. A rare miscommunication in the Atletico defence.
63 min: Sanson tries to strip Saul of his trousers in a midfield tussle. He doesn’t quite succeed, though he really should be going in the book.
61 min: Ocampos has ranted himself out, and is now slumped on the bench in Quiet Fume mode. His fume serves as a decent metaphor for Marseille themselves: totally spent, they don’t look as though they have a comeback in them. Still, stranger things have happened. But they need to do something soon.
60 min: Lucas dribbles with great purpose down the left. He nearly breaks clear for a shot, but settles for a corner. His determination wins a high five from Koke, who nearly knocks him over backwards with the gesture. The corner is a complete waste of time, mind, but there’s a picture of a team who aren’t planning to take their foot off the gas just yet.
58 min: Atletico are bossing it in every department right now. They’re pinging the ball around in very pretty triangles, Griezmann, Costa and Koke at the heart of everything. Marseille by comparison are struggling to string two passes together.
56 min: Ocampos takes up his position on the Marseille bench, ranting in the expressive style. He’s really not happy.
55 min: A disgruntled Ocampos – who has been one of Marseille’s better performers – is hooked. Clinton Njie, once of Tottenham Hotspur, comes on in his stead.
53 min: And from this one, Godin flashes a header wide right from close range. He should probably have wrapped this up, right there. Marseille are clinging on for dear life.
52 min: From the set piece, the ball’s worked to Griezmann, who has the smell of a hat-trick in his nostrils. His shot, from the right-hand edge of the D, is deflected wide right for another corner.
51 min: Marseille are on the rack now. They need to clear their heads, because when Costa tries to break into the box from the left, Rami comes across and nearly slices a clearance backwards and over his own keeper, into the top right. Corner.
GOAL! Marseille 0-2 Atletico Madrid (Griezmann 49)
This was so simple. A huge hole in the Marseille midfield. Koke romps into it, and slips a ball down the inside-right for Griezmann. The striker buzzes into the box, draws Mandanda, and half-dinks, half-strokes the ball past the keeper and into the bottom left. What a gorgeous finish!
48 min: Correa cuts in from the right, having exchanged passes with Costa. Sarr does very well to stop him when, for a second, another goal looked on the cards. But it’s a futile gesture, because …
47 min: A slow start to the second half. On the touchline, Atletico assistant coach German Burgos pulls on an extra gilet as the rain comes down in stair rods. Right now, Diego Simeone will be pleased he’s banned from the touchline and banished to the dry stand.
So here we go again! Atletico get the party restarted, having swapped off the already-booked Vrsaljko for Juanfran. Taking no chances. It’s tipping down in Lyon.
Half-time eulogy. One of England’s heroes of 1966 passed away today. Here’s Richard Williams on the unassuming but brilliant Ramon Wilson.
HALF TIME: Marseille 0-1 Atletico Madrid
And that’s that for the first half. It couldn’t have gone much worse for Marseille, who spurned an early gilt-edged chance, gave up the cheapest of goals, and lost their influential captain Dimitri Payet to injury. Atletico are 45 minutes away from their third Europa League trophy.
45 min: Thauvin is down now. He’s taken a deflected clearance flush in his trouser arrangement. Ooyah, oof.
44 min: Griezmann drops deep, and very nearly threads a pass down the left to release Costa into the Marseille box. Sarr does extremely well to spot what’s going on and intercept. For a second, there was very real danger on the cards.
42 min: Marseille have totally lost their rhythm since the loss of Payet. Atletico look in control of this game now. Ocampos tries to Garrincha his way into the Atletico box from the left; it’s a nice run, but there’s simply too many red-and-white shirts to diddle his way past. No way through.
40 min: There’s loads of smoke billowing across the pitch again. Either a fan has let off a flare, or Ofenbach have returned with their decks. Those house DJs are a menace to society.
38 min: And it’s a free kick, of course. It’s basically a corner from the right. Koke whips it in, and Godin clanks a header miles over the bar from close range.
37 min: Amavi and Correa contest a 50-50 with a couple of dainty high-kicks. Correa goes down and rolls around quite a bit. There’s nothing in that, but Amavi is clearly frustrated because, as play restarts and Vrsaljko romps down the right, he comes across and clatters him to such an extent that a yellow card is a no-brainer.
35 min: Sanson looks to break quickly upfield with Atletico light at the back. He bursts past Gabi, but the Atletico captain is brushed and goes down cutely to win a free kick that puts a stop to Marseille’s gallop. The crowd – the majority supporting Marseille – go wild.
34 min: Lopez is immediately in the action, chasing after a pass slipped down the right by the impressively relentless Sarr. There’s too much juice on the ball and it flies out of play for a goal kick.
32 min: Yep, he’s taking his armband off. The poor chap is in floods of tears as he limps off. Maxime Lopez comes on in his stead. That’s a huge blow for Marseille, whose world has fallen apart in the last ten minutes.