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UEFA Europa League
9 May 2012
• Arena Naţională, Bucureşti
Referee: W. Stark
• Attendance: 52347
R. Falcao 7', 34'
FULL-TIME: Atletico Madrid 3-0 Athletic Bilbao. Falcao was the star for Atletico this evening as they were crowned Europa League champions thanks to a resounding 3-0 victory over a disappointing Athletic Bilbao side. The Colombian bagged a brilliant first-half brace and was a constant thorn in the side of the Bilbao defence. Atletico's Brazilian playmaker Diego added a fine third goal late on, as Diego Simeone's men ran out comfortable winners at the National Arena in Bucharest. Bilbao just weren't at the races tonight, which is surprising considering the stage. Simeone and his side won't mind though, as Atletico win the Europa League for the second time in the space of three years. Thanks for joining me for Goal.com's LIVE coverage of the final tonight. Goodbye!
90' + 3'
90' + 3'
That is the final attack of the game, as the referee blows the final whistle. Atletico are the Europa League champions!!!
90' + 3'
IBAI HITS THE WOODWORK FOR BILBAO!!! The substitute cuts in from the left wing before thumping a strong right-foot short onto the crossbar from 25 yards. That would have been quite the consolation goal!!
90' + 1'
Yellow Card Susaeta
90' + 1'
Filipe Luis has gone down clutching his shin in the left-back position following a robust challenge from Susaeta. Despite some initial loud screaming he is back on his feet and able to continue.
Atletico are just minutes away from victory here. Each of their players has really performed well tonight. Diego Simeone has instilled an impressive team ethic at the club since his arrival in December.
Bilbao's young attacker fell to the turf in tears as that third goal went in. He's been his team's outstanding player this evening, and on this performance, and his performances throughout the season, it is fair to say this is not going to be his last chance to win a major European medal.
Goal Diego Ribas
GOALLLLLL!!!!!1 3-0 TO ATLETICO!!!! DIEGO WITH THE THIRD!!! That is another fantastic goal. We have been spoilt by the quality on show tonight. Diego carries the ball forward before dancing his way past Amorebieta on his way into the area. The Brazilian then composes himself before firing a left-foot shot past Iraizoz and into the far corner.
Turan is being marched off the pitch by Atletico's medical staff as he has blood streaming from a cut on his forehead. He should be okay to return in a few minutes once that has been seen to though.
FALCAO STRIKES AN EFFORT AGAINST THE POST!!! The Atletico man cuts in from the left past Martinez before hitting a low right-foot effort onto the root of the post with Iraizoz well-beaten. That was nearly his hat-trick.
SAVE FROM COURTOIS!!! The ball falls to Susaeta on the right and he hits a sidefooted strike towards goal that Courtois does well to parry to safety. End-to-end stuff here!!
FINE PLAY FROM TURAN!! The Turkish winger drives in from the left-hand side before chipping a nonchalant effort towards goal that Iraizoz can comfortably collect. Ambitious from the Atletico man there, perhaps too ambitious!
SUSAETA!!!! A first-time strike from the Bilbao attacker takes a big deflection off Godin on its way towards goal that sends it wide and out for a corner. Bielsa's boys knocking at the door here in Bucharest!
Do Bilbao have it in them to get back into this match??? Let me know what you think on Twitter by sending your thoughts to @charliefscott.
Gabi's driven strike goes straight into the wall. A disappointing effort from the otherwise impressive midfielder.
Yellow Card Íñigo Pérez
FREE-KICK TO ATLETICO!!! 20 yards from goal...
BRILLIANT FROM IBAI!!! The attacker refuses to give up on the ball after losing possession on the left, eventually winning it back before firing a pass across the six yard box. The ball ricochets to De Marcos but, like Ibai moments before, he cannot sort his footwork out, as he sidefoots the ball high over Courtois' goal.
MUCH BETTER FROM IRAOLA!!! The defender curls an enticing ball into the box that just evades the head of Llorente before falling to Ibai. The substitute cannot adjust his body to direct the shot goalwards though, as his effort flies over the bar.
Iraola tries to play the intricate short pass into the area when he should really cross the ball to the back post where two of his team-mates are waiting. Bilbao are trying to over-complicate things at the moment.
Falcao has been truly brilliant tonight. Yes, he's scored two great goals, but his movement and effort levels have also been top notch. He has just chased an overhit pass into the corner, held off Martinez, and then won a free-kick for his team. Fantastic play from the striker.
Falcao is fouled 35 yards out by Amorebieta but the referee plays a good advantage as the ball moves out to Adrian Lopez on the right. He tries to replicate Falcao's finish from the first half, but unsurprisingly fails, his left foot shot flying wide of Iraizoz's goal.
Yellow Card Amorebieta
It looks like Bielsa's last throw of the dice will be the introduction of the tireless Toquero, and the man on a yellow card Ander Herrera is the player being replaced.
Bilbao need to make this possession count! They are seeing alot more of the ball in this second half, but they are not creating the chances they need to get back into this game!!
Llorente cannot quite control the ball inside the Atletico penalty area. He will be disappointed by that, but he was crowded out by three Atletico defenders as soon as he brought the ball down there. Great defending from Simeone's men.
GOOD SAVE FROM COURTOIS!! Inigo Perez curls a cross/shot into the area and it is heading towards the top corner, but the Atletico keeper Courtois is alert to the danger and tips the ball over the crossbar for a corner.
Corner to Bilbao. Ibai lifts it to Herrera at the back post but he blazes an effort horribly high and horribly wide. Urgh.
Atletico are not giving Bilbao any time on the ball whatsoever tonight, and are hassling their opposition whenever they are in possession, from Falcao up front to Godin and Miranda at the back.
Gabi's deflected strike is gathered well by Iraizoz in the Bilbao goal. A touch from one of his defenders took the sting off that strike, otherwise Atletico may have been celebrating a third goal!
Adrian Lopez is pulled back for offside by the linesman after looking to latch on to a well-weighted slide-rule pass from Turan on the left. Close, but correct decision from the man in black on the far side.
Bielsa's side are starting to move the ball about nicely in the second half, but they are yet to really click, and their final ball from midfield has been wayward so far in this match.
Bilbao must be sick of the sight of Falcao, the Colombian has scored two against them tonight, for the second time in three months! He also bagged a brace during Atletico's 2-1 La Liga win in March.
IMMEDIATE CHANCE FOR BILBAO!! Muniain sprints into the area on the right and drags a cross towards the near post that Godin smashes behind for a corner with the Bilbao striker Llorente lurking behind him. That's a bright start to the second half from the team that are two goals down!
Bilbao make a double change at half-time, Iturraspe comes off to be replaced by Inigo Perez, while Ibai is brought on for Aurtenetxe.
HALF-TIME: Atletico Madrid 2-0 Athletic Bilbao. Simeone's side have raced into a two goal lead thanks to a superb brace from their Colombian talisman, Radamel Falcao. The attacker opened the scoring with a fine curling strike before showing some neat footwork to add a second goal 10 minutes before half-time. Bilbao have struggled to impose themselves on the game in the first half, but with the likes of Llorente and Muniain on the pitch, they are bound to create chances after the break. Join me in ten minutes for the second half!
45' + 1'
The referee blows his whistle to mark the end of an exciting first half.
FALCAO WANTS ANOTHER! The striker latches on to a pass from Diego on the left, and tries to cut onto his right foot and curl an effort across the goalkeeper. He gets the finish all wrong on this occasion though, with his shot flying high and wide of Iraizoz's goal.
Great punch from Courtois. The young Belgian keeper shows superb composure to fist the ball a long way to safety after Susaeta had lifted a high ball into the Atletico penalty area.
Atletico are in control of things in this first half as we head towards the interval. Diego Simeone will be absolutely delighted with his side's performance so far this evening.
THAT LOOKS PAINFUL!!! Iraizoz takes a stray set of Falcao studs to the groin as the striker races on to a pass inside the penalty area. He's going to be able to feel that for a while. Poor guy.
Earlier in the week the Bilbao forward Iker Muniain promised to get the Europa League trophy tattooed on his body if the Basque club defeat Atletico Madrid tonight. He was quoted by AS as saying, "If we win I will get tattoo the Europa League cup [on my body]". They've got a lot of work to do to turn this one round!
Bilbao go in search of a goal down the right and win a free-kick midway through the Atletico half. It amounts to nothing though, and is gathered by Courtois comfortably.
How do you stop a player in this kind of form? Bielsa doesn't seem to know! Two goals for Falcao already, and it is not even half-time yet.
Assist Arda Turan
Goal Radamel Falcao
ANOTHER GOAL FOR FALCAO!!!!!! And he's taken that one brillilantly! The Colombian controls a pass from Turan inside the box, pulls off a fantastic Cruyff to evade the challenge of Aurtenetxe, and then blasts his finish past Iraizoz from 8 yards. 2-0 to Atletico!
A foul on Juanfran on the right results in another free-kick for Atletico in a promising position. Diego takes it but it is cleared, although Atletico soon win the ball back through Mario Suarez, who looks to play the ball out to Turan on the left.
People following this that are on Twitter, who would you rather have in your team, Falcao or Llorente? Let me know who you would prefer @charliefscott.
Iturraspe mops the play up beautifully at the back for Bilbao, just as Falcao and Turan threatened to exchange passes 30 yards from goal. The defender nicked the ball off the Colombian, rode the challenge of Turan, and then played a neat pass out to De Marcos on the right.
Susaeta heads the ball on well to Llorente but the striker cannot control the ball and is eventually crowded out by Godin and Miranda on the edge of the Atletico box.
Bilbao look to have won a corner through De Marcos on the right but the linesman thinks otherwise and awards a goal-kick to Atletico. The men in green look far from pleased with that decision!
Yellow Card Radamel Falcao
I've just seen Herrera picked up a yellow card for that tackle on Diego a few minutes ago, and to be honest, that is not in the least bit surprising. It was a horrible challenge from the Bilbao midfielder!
SHOT FROM MUNIAIN!!!! The Atletico keeper Thibaut Courtois pulls off a smart save to keep the Spanish youngster's driven effort out. Bilbao are improving as the game goes on, but Atletico still look dangerous on the break.
Yellow Card Ander Herrera
The Brazilian strikes it goalwards but it fails to clear the wall, with Llorente heading the shot out for a corner, which is then gathered comfortably by Iraizoz.
FREE-KICK TO ATLETICO!!! Diego is hacked to the ground by Ander Herrera 20 yards from goal after Falcao had held the ball up well and waited for support from his team-mates. Diego looks like he might fancy this one...
CHANCE FOR LLORENTE!!! Bilbao go straight up the other end and Llorente has a chance to equalise! The big Spanish international scuffs a volley wide from six yards after a delightful little dinked cross from Markel Susaeta. Credit to the Atletico defender Godin for putting Llorente under all sorts of pressure when that pass came into the box.
DIEGO DRAGS A SHOT WIDE!! The Atletico playmaker saunters towards the edge of the Bilbao penalty area before striking an effort that drifts wide of Iraizoz's right-hand post.
Bilbao win a corner but it is headed away emphatically by Godin. Gabi and Mario Suarez are shielding their defence brilliantly so far, as Bilbao try and probe their way into the Atletico area following Godin's clearance.
The hunched figure of the Bilbao coach Marcelo Bielsa on the sidelines tells the story. He looks slightly bemused as to his side's start in this match.
Bilbao have got to wake up in this one. It's been a non-contest so far with Atletico dominating possession and creating the best chances in the opening quarter of an hour.
So guys, where does this match go from here? Let me know your thoughts on Twitter @charliefscott.
Bilbao whip a free-kick into the box and it looks like Diego Godin has his hands all over Fernando Llorente there, but the referee Wolfgang Stark is having none of it, and waves play on.
The Colombian is also on course to become the top scorer in the competition for the second successive season, an achievement that has never been done in the Europa League or UEFA Cup.
Falcao scores in a Europa League final for the second season in a row, after grabbing the only goal of the game last year when Porto beat Braga.
Assist Diego Ribas
Goal Radamel Falcao
WOW!!! WHAT A GOAL FROM FALCAO!!! Open up the top drawer and reach in and take that one out. The Colombian races into the box on the right before cutting on to his left and curling an absolute pearler into the top left corner past the despairing Iraizoz.
The set piece amounts to nothing though, and is headed away to safety by Javi Martinez at the back for Bilbao.
Some of the Bilbao players are going flying into challenges early on. I'm all for making your presence felt but that lunge from Iker Muniain on Gabi was sloppy. Atletico have a free-kick on the right.
CHANCE FOR ATLETICO!! Arda Turan does brilliantly down the left before whipping a delicious ball into the area that Adrian Lopez nods wide of the Bilbao goal. Atletico have started the brighter here!
Here we go guys, we are underway in Bucharest! Fingers crossed it's a cracker.
The National Arena is rocking in the moments before kick-off, as both teams emerge on to the pitch. Atletico wear their red and white stripes, as Bilbao, the nominated away side, are kitted out in their green away strip.
The pre-match song and dance on the pitch is over and we are just minutes from getting underway here in Bucharest.
Don't forget guys, you can get in touch with me throughout the game on Twitter, by sending your messages to @charliefscott. To get the ball rolling, who do you think will win tonight? And who is going to be the game's standout performer?
COPA DEL REY TEAM NEWS: The Rey himself is a doubt for the final this evening after fracturing his hip whilst hunting elephants in Botswana last month.
BILBAO TEAM NEWS: Bielsa names an attacking line-up for this final, with Fernando Llorente flanked by Iker Muniain and Markel Susaeta. Fernando Amorebieta shrugs off a calf problem to start in defence for the Basque side.
ATLETICO TEAM NEWS: No surprises from Simeone as he names a full-strength team for tonight's game. All eyes will be on Radamel Falcao after his fantastic first season at the club, but Bilbao will be wary of the threat posed by some of Madrid's other attacking talents, including the Brazilian playmaker Diego, and the rejuvenated Adrian. The defender Luis Perea, who had been struggling with a thigh problem and is set to leave the club at the end of the season, has been cut from the final squad, but Antonio Lopez, also set to depart this summer, makes the bench.
Athletic Bilbao (4-3-3): Iraizoz; Iraola, Javi Martinez, Amorebieta, Aurtenetxe; Iturraspe, Herrera, De Marcos; Susaeta, Llorente, Muniain
Atletico Madrid (4-2-3-1): Courtois; Juanfran, Miranda, Godin, Filipe Luis; Mario Suarez, Gabi; Arda Turan, Diego, Adrian; Falcao
That's quite enough of me waxing lyrical about the stadium, let's have a look at how the teams are lining up for the match this evening.
Good evening and welcome, my name is Charlie Scott and I will be bringing you LIVE coverage for Goal.com of this season's Europa League final that pits Diego Simeone's Atletico Madrid against fellow Argentine, Marcelo Bielsa's Athletic Bilbao side in Bucharest. And what a stadium it is! The National Arena that opened in September of last year, and holds just over 55,000 people, is looking absolutely fantastic tonight.
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