Atlético Madrid saw off Marseille to win their first European trophy since they triumphed in this same competition in Bucharest in 2012.
This was a convincing win, built on control as much as it was their usual defensive solidity, as they edged the possession in the second half with 51 per cent.
Marseille had the advantage in the opening exchanges with Valère Germain squandering a good chance, but Atlético are good at lulling opposition into a false sense of security, just as they did against Arsenal.
An unfortunate defensive error led to the opening goal which set the tone forthe game, as not many teams are able to penetrate the Atlético defence to score one goal, never mind the multiple strikes which Marseille eventually needed after the Spaniards doubled their lead early in the second half.
Atlético put the icing on the cake with a third in the 89th minute.
With the World Cup looming, here are the three players we’d like to see again, preferably in Russia next month.
The Frenchman had two chances and took both to win the cup for his side.
His first was an opportunistic effort, preying on a mistake from André-Frank Zambo Anguissa, who couldn’t control goalkeeper Steve Mandada’s pass out from the back.
Atlético intercepted, and the ball fell to Griezmann whose finish past Mandada was ice cold and clinical.
His second was well worked as Koke slid him in behind the French side’s defence, but though the build-up was slightly different the outcome was the same. The coveted striker lifted the ball over the onrushing goalkeeper, having shown great close control under pressure after receiving the pass.
He’s linked with Barcelona, and forming an an attacking trident with Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez would send fear through opposition defences across Europe. He’ll be looking to win the big one — the Champions League — next season whether with Atlético, Barcelona, or someone else, but first we get to enjoy him at the World Cup.
Koke & Saúl
The Spanish pair are vital to Diego Simeone’s 4-4-2 system, and could be similarly important to Spain’s evolving midfield heading into the World Cup.
Saúl is the the younger at 23 and has nine caps to his name, while Koke is already a feature in the Spain side having racked up 38 caps.
They have the technical ability required, and expected, of Spanish midfielders, but also have the bite and competitiveness instilled by Simeone.
Koke assisted Griezmann’s first, and set one up for Gabi in the final minutes to make it 3-0.
He was aware of Gabi’s run on the right even before he received the pass from Costa, and found the 34-year-old despite slipping as he made the pass. He made a total of five key passes during the game.
It’s cheating slightly to pick two players here, and Gabi and Angel Correa performed similar duties on the other side of this narrow midfield so should not be overlooked, but Koke and Saúl are the ones we’d like to see again in Russia.
Very often in 3 2 C there is a player who underwhelms and needs to be seen again merely to reassure us that there is a player in there, and that there is plenty more to their game than what we just witnessed.
That was the case tonight with Thauvin.
It will have been a familiar performance for those who witnessed his displays at Newcastle, but since moving to Marseille he’s been one of the best players in Ligue 1, and one of the standout talents in Europe.
Only Edinson Cavani scored more than his 22 goals in the league this season, and the 25-year-old also added 11 assists. That’s more contributions to goals than Neymar, who only made 20 appearances but somehow still won the award for best player in the league.
He only has an outside chance of making the France squad for the World Cup, and tonight may not have done him any favours, but there’s still a chance…
— Match of the Day (@BBCMOTD) May 16, 2018
Dimitri Payet could miss the World Cup
Dimitri Payet leaves the pitch in tears after being forced to come off with an injury 😢
France’s World Cup squad is set to be announced tomorrow. pic.twitter.com/o9EKJZ0bRA
— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) May 16, 2018
The Marseille Fans 👏
Marseille fans at the Europa League Final tonight🔥🔥 pic.twitter.com/aokQJmH3eE
— Football Away Days (@AwayDays_) May 16, 2018