Atlético crowned Europa League champions
LYON, France (AP):
Striker Antoine Griezmann punished sloppy Marseille with two expertly-taken goals as Atletico Madrid won the Europa League for the third time with a resounding 3-0 victory in yesterday's final.
Marseille were going for a second European trophy, 25 years after winning the UEFA Champions League, but had no answer to Griezmann's mobility and finishing. Captain Gabi capped off the victory with a fine finish in the last minute after being set up by Koke.
"It's more than about winning the Europa League tonight, it's about more than a trophy," Atletico Madrid coach Diego Simeone said. "It represents the value of hard work, a steady hand and consistency, values to be successful in life. Keeping at it, keep working hard and it will bear fruit."
Several of Marseille's players were in tears after the final whistle, undone by a player who was turned down by several French clubs when he was a youth because of his diminutive stature.
"This is a reward for me after I left home aged 14, for all the work I have put in, the suffering," Griezmann said. "There has been joy and sadness, but I am so happy and I hope to be able to live moments like this again."
Atletico added to the Europa League trophies from 2010 and 2012. They also lost Champions League finals to Real Madrid in 2014 and 2016 and the gulf in experience was evident.
"This shows the value of persistence," Simeone said. "We lost two Champions League finals, one in the last minute and one on penalties."
The comfortable lead allowed Atletico to take off Griezmann in the final moments and give veteran forward Fernando Torres a send-off, as he came on to a huge ovation from the red-and-white horde of Atletico fans.
The 34-year-old Torres, who is leaving Atletico at the end of the season, finally won a trophy with his beloved club. He raised the trophy aloft with his right hand in front of adoring fans who nicknamed him "The Kid" when he started his career in 2000.
"He leaves a legacy of never surrendering, never lowering his guard," Simeone said. "He never gave up when I left him out."
The night really belonged to Griezmann, whose stock will rise even further.
Atletico's next challenge will be trying to stop a bigger club signing Griezmann, amid ongoing interest from Barcelona.
"I don't think now is the time to talk about my future. I want to enjoy the present," Griezmann said. "I want to enjoy this with the fans."