Atletico Madrid have been crowned Europa League champions after a resounding 3-0 win over Marseille in Lyon.
The La Liga giants, favourites to win the competition after dropping out of the Champions League after the group stages, were deserving winners against a Marseille side who, over the course of the 90 minutes, simply couldn’t live with their Spanish opponents.
Marseille kicked off the clash in a thoroughly old school manner, with Dimitri Payet launching the ball far into the opposition half and out of play.
Striker Valère Germain then had a great chance to open the scoring for the Ligue 1 side with less than five minutes played, only to fire wide when through on goal.
Marseille, who started strongly, would live to regret that miss, with Antoine Griezmann usurping the general run of play to score at the other end on 21 minutes.
The goal came after after a calamitous bit of mis-control from Andre Zambo Anguissa, who bungled a pass from Steve Mandanda and gifted possession to Gabi, who picked up the ball before feeding Griezmann, who calmly slotted past the ‘keeper.
Marseille’s first-half got even worse when star-man Dimitri Payet was forced off with a hamstring on the half-hour mark, with the playmaker in tears as he left the pitch.
Unfortunately for Payet, as well as seeing his first ever major domestic final cut short by injury, the ex-West Ham man could also now miss out on a place in the French squad for the World Cup, which explains his reaction.
With the French side robbed of their chief attacking catalyst, Atleti slowly but surely began to take charge.
In the second half, Diego Simeone watched on the from the stands, courtesy of his four-game ban, as his well-drilled side started to dominate proceedings.
Griezmann would get his second of the game on 49 minutes with of a wonderful dinked finish after latching onto a perfectly weighted through-ball from the ever-impressive Koke.
Another one of those incisive, ruthless Atletico ‘rush’ counter-attacks.
Marseille struggled to contain their opponents for the rest of the half, although substitute Kostas Mitroglou, once of Fulham, hit the post late on with a terrific towering header.
Ex-Tottenham attacker Clinton N’Jie then managed to produce the worst finish imaginable to one of Marseille’s scant openings, with his awful outside-of-the-boot effort from inside the box going out for a throw.
Lovely cushioned header, FOR NJIE. pic.twitter.com/OHM6tKPM2N
— Andy Ha (@_AndyHa) May 16, 2018
There was still time for one more goal, with veteran captain Gabi crowning the evening with a fine goal after another Koke assist.
Simeone sent on Atletico legend Fernando Torres at the death as his side saw out the game to seal the veteran striker’s first ever trophy for the club in his very last game.
Despite lacking the top-end flair of Barcelona or Real Madrid, Atletico have once again got the job done, and with a runners-up spot in La Liga also in the bag, Simeone has once again squeezed every last drop of talent out of his players.
Although with star boy Griezmann looking set for a move to the Camp Nou, next season may well be a tougher proposition.
As for Rudi Garcia’s Marseille, they need to re-focus themselves ahead of Ligue 1’s final day at the weekend, with a Champions League spot up for grabs.