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UEFA Europa League
19 April 2012
• Estadio Vicente Calderón, Madrid
Referee: C. Thomson
• Attendance: 24000
R. Falcao 18', 78'
Ricardo Costa 90'+
Don't know about you, but I can't wait for the return leg now. Hope you can join us then, but for now, it's cheerio from me. Thanks for your input, as always. Have a good one.
And that, as they say, is that. It was, for the most part, a scintillating performance from Atletico, and a dreadful showing from Valencia. But the scoreline will show that this tie is still not beyond Unai Emery's side. A 2-0 win at the Mestala would be enough to see them through to the final, but on tonight's evidence, their biggest problem may be keeping Atletico from scoring a few of their own.
90' + 5'
Yellow CardÁlvaro Domínguez
90' + 4'
GOOAL VALENCIA! Well, well, well. Tino Costa's corner is headed home emphatically by Ricardo Costa, and all of a sudden, the tie is brought back to life. As they did in the first half, Valencia have scored with the final kick of play.
90' + 4'
90' + 2'
Or maybe not. Piatti wins a corner from Miranda, and Valencia have a final chance.
90' + 2'
A hopeful ball towards Soldado is comfortably gathered by Courtois. That could be that.
90' + 1'
They won't get it like that. Tino Costa takes the award for worst shot of the night, skewing a right-footed shot high and wide. There's a Mexican wave starting inside the Stadio Vicente Calderon.
We are in to stoppage time. Valencia need a goal to make the second leg interesting.
Adrian Lopez is being brought off to a standing ovation. What a talent this player is. After another superb goal and performance, the number 7 is replaced by Eduardo Salvio.
Valencia have just run out of ideas. The away side are resorting to long balls into the box, and Tino Costa's latest effort is 10 yards from any player in a black shirt.
Luis Perea comes on to replace Diego, who showed some of his true class tonight. A little over two minutes remain here.
Time for Atletico to stroke the ball around and start running down the clock. All the play is still happening in the Valencia half.
I honestly don't think Roberto Soldado has touched the ball this half. The prolific number 9 has been marked out of the game, and is unable to get on the end of a long ball here, with Dominguez heading easily away.
One thing's for sure, this game is over as a contest. Atletico haven't given their opponents a sniff in this second half, and have re-discovered their ruthless streak in front of goal. Valencia have conceded four times for the second game in succession, and by the way they have defended tonight, I can't say I'm surprised.
Arda Turan is being brought off by Diego Simeone, and the Turk gets a great reception as he makes his way from the field. Tiago is on in his place.
Valencia make another change, as Jonas comes off to be replaced by Artiz Aduriz.
Aritz Aduriz Zubeldia
GOOOAALL ATLETICO! Stunning strike from Falcao! The Colombian takes the ball down on the right hand side, skips forward towards the edge of the box, goes past Victor Ruiz like he wasn't there, and smashes an unstoppable shot into the top corner. Pick that out. This tie could be over, folks.
First signs of Sergio Canales' talent, as the Real Madrid loanee breaks forward at speed down the right. A great sliding tackle from Juanfran denies him.
Another poor cross from Filipe, who wasted a two-against-one situation for Atletico by failing to pick out either of the men in the middle. Only one team looks like scoring at the minute.
Filipe absolutely does substitute Piatti with a superb turn down the left hand side, but from the bouncing ball, his cross is terribly overhit. What a shame.
Double change from Valencia. The Argentine Pablo Piatti replaces Jordi Alba, and Sofiane Feghouli is also brought off. Coming on to replace the Algerian is the ridiculously talented Sergio Canales. Wonder if he has a role to play in the outcome of this tie.
A lovely turn and shot from Diego, who runs away from three players before curling a shot just past the post. The Brazilian has been very impressive in the final third this evening.
Close! Super strike from Diego, who bends the ball towards the top corner. Diego Alves is at full stretch to tip the ball over the bar. Great save.
Guess what? Another foul by Valencia. Ricardo Costa clips Diego on the edge of the box. They scored from this position not long ago...
Yellow CardDiego Alves
anti_particle is nearly proved right straight away. Adrian Lopez drives in a shot that Diego Alves can only parry, and Arda Turan smacks the rebound straight back at him. The Turk was well placed, and had he placed his shot better, the tie could be beyond Valencia already.
@anti_particle I think the match will end 4-1 in AM 's favour...
Foul by Mehmet Topal on his fellow countryman Arda Turan. How many more will we see before Craig Thomson takes some action?
...headed clear by Atletico, and from the follow-up, Adil Rami is well offside.
Miranda holds back Jonas by the corner flag, and Valencia have a dangerous free-kick...
Good block by Courtois. From a free-kick, the Chelsea loanee is down well to punch away Ricardo Costa's knock-down. There's still life in the Valencia attacks, make no mistake.
Atletico aren't done yet, and want another one to kill this tie off. They will need to watch Valencia on the break, but have every reason to think there are more goals to be had against this defence.
And now Jordi Alba has a swipe at his man when the ball had gone. The referee Craig Thomson is in danger of losing control here.
Things are getting bit heated here. Tino Costa has just thrown Gabi to the floor, and is surprisingly not booked for the assault. Valencia don't know what to do with themselves at the moment.
GOOAALL ATLETICO! This time he punishes them. Mehmet Toapl gives the ball away, and Adrian Lopez is allowed to run, and run, at the Valencia back line. He is pushed wide, but clips a superb shot across Diego Alves into the far corner. Brilliant finish, but where was the Valencia defence? Breathing room for Atletico now.
Adrian Lopez wants another one, and is allowed to run at the Valencia defence before unleashing a right-foot strike from 25 yards. It's well wide, but he was given far too much room to shoot in such a dangerous position.
Well, that was exactly what Atletico needed here. It's been gifted to them, but Diego Simeone's side will care not a jot. The tie is back in their control.
GOOOAAALLL ATLETICO. Absolutely shocking defending from Valencia. Diego's kick is rather aimless, but three Atletico players are allowed to run unchecked against Adil Rami. The Brazilian defender Miranda gets his head to the ball, and Atletico are back in front. Hang your heads in shame.
That's another foul by Feghouli, who brings down Diego on the edge of the box. The Algerian must be close to a second booking here.
Aggressive start to the second half from Atletico, as Arda Turan links up with Adrian Lopez on the right wing. The Valencia defence stands up well to the cross with Falcao lurking.
Valencia get us back underway. No changes from either side just yet.
The teams are on their way back out...
For me, Atletico have failed to capitalise on some pretty shoddy Valencia defending, and might have been out of sight if they had been a little more clinical. They will be kicking themselves at the equaliser too, as Jonas was left unmarked on the back post to tap in. Both sides have attacking options on the bench; will they go for broke in the coming 45? I sure hope so.
So, what do we make of that? Was there too much time added on at the end of the first half? Valencia's goal was timed 31 seconds after the whistle should have gone. Gabi did pick up a knock in that time, so is it justified? Was Courtois fouled by Rami before the corner? Keep your thoughts coming to me via Twitter - @woodstome.
Well, that was exhilarating stuff. At times, it looked like Valencia's defence was on the point of collapse every time Atletico came forward. But Unai Emery's side ended the half stronger, and have grabbed a potentially huge away goal here. That leaves the tie poised very, very nicely. Don't go anywhere...
45' + 4'
Thibaut Courtois is not happy. The Atletico keeper feels Rami's challenge on him was unfair as he conceded that corner. Not sure those complaints are justified, but the home crowd is howling its displeasure as the half time whistle goes.
45' + 3'
45' + 3'
GOOALL VALENCIA! Smash and grab. Valencia win a corner right at the end of the half, Rami again wins the header, and an un-marked Jonas is stood at the back post to tap in. Massive away goal for the visitors. That will be the last kick of the half.
Tell you what, that was a pretty lively break from Valencia. Soldado skips forward at pace, and is suddenly in the clear on the right wing. His ball across the box is a little strong for Jordi Alba, but the ball finds its way to Jonas on the edge of the box. The Brazilian elects to shoot, and his effort flies just over the top. If I was being harsh, I'd say he had better options there.
Arda Turan fancies his chances from 30 yards out, but his right-foot shot swings wide of the top left-hand corner. Worth a go, with all the space he had.
Cleared away, but Feghouli quickly gives the ball away to Gabi before committing another foul. The Algerian is already on a booking, and that was just cynical.
Corner to Atletico...
Yellow CardArda Turan
Arda Turan is booked for a foul on Tino Costa. He slid right through the back of him. No complaints.
Rami is absolutely done by a long ball, and Adrian Lopez is away. A good sliding challenge from Mathieu gets his colleague out of jail. Surely it's just a matter of time before Atletico capitalise on another mistake?
It's so nervy back there for Valencia. Rami's back-pass to Diego Costa is way too short, and the eventual clearance is snapped up by Atletico. Adrian Lopez is called for offside, but the signs from the Valencia defence are really worrying.
Blimey. Victor Ruiz slices an absolute stinker of a clearance over his own crossbar. That wasn't good at all. Fortunately for him, Atletico can't capitalise from the corner.
Arda Turan has definitely been Atletico's bright spark so far. Another good cross from the right is in towards Diego, and Diego Alves is there just ahead of the Brazilian forward.
Soldado tries to score with a header from fully 25 yards, but even he can't generate enough power to beat Courtois from there. The ball ends up flashing well wide.
Arda Turan plays a delightful ball into the Valencia penalty area, and Jordi Alba does brilliantly to make the block. It's suddenly gone end to end here.
Close! Tino Costa's kick is met with a thumping header by Adil Rami, and Courtois can't get anywhere near it. Fortunately for Atletico, the ball is just wide of the far post. Best moment by a mile for Valencia.
The last couple of minutes have been a tidy spell of possession for Valencia. They haven't done anything with it, until Jordi Alba forces a corner...
Soldado is cutting a frustrated figure on his return to the first team. A long ball from Jeremy Mathieu sails over the Spanish striker's head, and away for a throw. Not what I'd call service there.
Valencia are not defending well here. Diego floats the free-kick into the box and, with Diego Alves coming to claim the ball, Mehmet Topal heads behind for a corner. Complete non-communication at the back for Los Che. Not a positive sign.
Gabi is down here, and looked to fall awkwardly in a challenge with Feghouli. Let's hope he's just winded. He sure looks in pain.
...the kick is taken hard and low by Tino Costa, and doesn't beat the first defender.
Corner to Valencia, as Miranda heads away a long ball aimed at Soldado...
Valencia are putting themselves about a bit now, but Soldado is looking ever so slightly isolated up front on his own. The visitors will need more men up in support if they are to register that all important away goal.
You have to ask yourself what Adil Rami was doing in the build up to that goal. The Frenchman was absolutely invisible as Arda Turan went past him to make that cross. You fancy that Atletico may try that same approach a few more times before the evening is out.
GOOAALL ATLETICO! Yet more success for Arda Turan down the right hand side, but how he got beyond Adil Rami is beyond me. The Turk takes down a long ball with a good touch, but is able to breeze past Rami before clipping a cross in towards Radamel Falcao. The prolific Colombian makes no mistake from five yards out. Atletico deservedly into the lead.
The Vicente Calderon, as you might expect, has exploded into song. Absolutely brilliant atmosphere inside the stadium, and Atletico are playing with a real swagger now.
Yellow CardSofiane Feghouli
Wasted by Atletico. Diego's kick is headed out for a corner by Soldado, and the subsequent kick is straight through to Diego Alves. Ho hum.
Mistake, and a foul, by Feghouli. After scuffing his clearance to Filipe Luis, he immediately pulls down the Atletico player on the corner of the area. Booking for the Algerian. Dangerous position for the home side.
The Algerian Sofiane Feghouli has attempted to break down the right wing several times for Valencia. It's only 12 minutes in, but it's fair to say that Filipe Luis has had him in his pocket so far. Los Che may want to re-think that tactic.
That was nearly the breakthrough. Adrian Lopez, who is on sparkling form, jinks his way into the box and has clear sight of goal. He strikes hard and low, and the ball is well blocked by a diving Diego Alves. Atletico starting to turn on the style here.
First shot on target from Falcao, as the Colombian turns and shoots left-footed from the corner of the area. It's well struck, but too close to Diego Alves, who saves comfortably.
Valencia's tactic may be to stifle their opponents for as long as possible here. The Atletico players are being given very little time on the ball, and are being forced into mistakes as a result. Typified there as Arda Turan tries to pick out a man in the box, but scuffs his effort.
Not a lot happening in attacking terms for Valencia. Jordi Alba attempts to release Jeremy Mathieu from a throw, but the ball is over... erm.. thrown, and runs out for a goal kick.
Turan is off again, and this time it nearly leads to a goal. After reaching the byeline, the Turk pulls the ball back to Diego, who swipes for goal first time. Diego Alves is down well to make the save. Lovely break again from Atletico.
That's kind of annoying from referee Craig Thomson. Adrian Lopez skips away from three challenges, before laying the ball of for Diego. Except that the Scottish official is standing exactly where the Brazilian wanted the ball. The move breaks down. Nice one Craig.
Within fifteen seconds, Arda Turan has tried to beat everyone on the pitch. The young Turk does well too, making it to the byeline before eventually losing out.
Atletico get us underway. Europa League semis, ahoy.
Captains Alvaro Dominguez and Roberto Soldado shake hands in the centre circle. We're all set...
Here come the teams; Atletico in the traditional red and white stripes, Valencia in all black. A place in the Europa League final awaits, and in just under two hours we may have a better idea of who is going to be there. Your referee tonight is Scotland’s Craig Thomson.
That said, Atletico haven’t actually beaten Valencia in their last eight attempts. And Valencia are the ones sitting third in the Primera Division. But Atletico are on the better form, winning four of their last six. Oh, it’s too close to call, this. Let’s just sit back and enjoy shall we?
Atletico, of course, will have other ideas, and Diego Simeone’s side go into this game with a very impressive home record to defend. In Europe, Los Colchoneros are on a run of eight straight wins at the Vicente Calderon, and are also the top goalscorers left in the competition. Plenty of reason to expect an attacking approach, then. Valencia, meanwhile, have won just once in their last eight European away games, so will be many people’s underdogs going into this game.
Talking of controversy, anyone remember the quarter-final between these two back in 2010? Atletico were the victors on away goals, but any Valencia fan will remind you that Los Che were denied what looked a blatant penalty in the closing stages of that second leg. Wonder if anyone in the away dressing room will feel it’s time for justice to be done.
With Athletic Bilbao competing in tonight’s other semi-final, we could be on course for a second all-Spanish Europa League final in five years. Both of tonight’s teams have good recent history in the competition, lifting the trophy in 2010 and 2004 respectively. Who progresses this time around is really anyone’s guess; in terms of current form and recent history, there is precious little to separate these two, and the ultimate outcome could well come down to a moment of brilliance. Or controversy.
Valencia have recently been able to welcome Hedwiges Maduro and Sergio Canales back from injury, but neither is deemed ready to start tonight’s game. Victor Ruiz, however, does return the starting lineup, in a team that shows four changes from the weekend’s 4-0 drubbing at Espanyol. Diego Alves comes in for Vicente Guaita in goal and, notably, top scorer Roberto Soldado returns to lead the attack. VALENCIA LINEUP (4-2-3-1): Alves; Costa, Rami, Ruiz, Alba; Tino Costa, Topal; Feghouli, Jonas, Mathieu; Soldado. Bench: Guaita, Saltor, Maduro, Canales, Parejo, Aduriz, Piatti.
How about some team news? Atletico are without the suspended Diego Godin, while captain Antonio Lopez remains on the sidelines through injury. There are two changes to the side that beat Rayo Vallecano at the weekend, with Gabi replacing Tiago and Arda Turan taking the place of Eduardo Salvio. ATLETICO LINEUP: (4-2-3-1): Courtois; Juanfran, Miranda, Dominguez, Filipe; Suarez, Gabi; Adrian, Diego, Turan; Falcao. Bench: Asenjo, Perea, Tiago, Assuncao, Koke, Salvio, Martin.
I’m Tom Woods, and I’ll be bringing you the action from the Spanish capital as it unfolds. As I go, I’ll be looking for your comments, predictions, banter, whatever you want to throw at me. Send it over to @woodstome on Twitter, and I’ll get as many of you up on the feed as I can.
Welcome to Goal.com. Thought the semi-final excitement was over for one week? Think again. Allow me to introduce two of Spain’s finest, Atletico Madrid and Valencia, going head to head in the last four of the Europa League. The setting? The stunning Estadio Vicente Calderon, complete with 25,000 fanatical supporters. The stage is set. The players are ready. I’ve got a feeling we’re in for a sumptuous evening’s entertainment.
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