Sport Griezmann scores twice as Atletico wins Europa League final

01:35  17 may  2018
01:35  17 may  2018 Source:   ap.org

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Atletico players celebrate with the trophy after winning the Europa League Final soccer match between Marseille and Atletico Madrid at the Stade de Lyon in Decines, outside Lyon, France, Wednesday, May 16, 2018. (AP Photo/Francois Mori)© The Associated Press Atletico players celebrate with the trophy after winning the Europa League Final soccer match between Marseille and Atletico Madrid at the Stade de Lyon in Decines, outside Lyon, France, Wednesday, May 16, 2018. (AP Photo/Francois Mori)

LYON, France — 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 Wednesday's final.

Marseille was going for a second European trophy, 25 years after winning the 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.

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If this match were to be decided on European pedigree, then Atletico Madrid would win easily. They have won this trophy twice since it was rebranded in 2009, and have also been to two Champions League finals in that period. Thauvin or Griezmann to Score ?

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"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."

Griezmann pounced in the 21st minute, slotting coolly into the bottom left corner after being set up by midfielder Gabi's first-time pass. Marseille's woeful defending contributed, as midfielder Zambo Anguissa failed to control a needlessly casual pass out from goalkeeper Steve Mandanda and the loose ball bounced straight to Gabi.

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BARCELONA, Spain (AP) Antoine Griezmann kept Atletico Madrid focused on a strong finish to the Spanish league Real won the other two meetings in the finals of 2014 and 2016. Cedric Bakambu scored twice , including the stoppage-time winner apparently with his hand, to ensure Villarreal

MADRID: Antoine Griezmann ’s first major trophy with Atletico Madrid may well prove to be his last if they can overcome Marseille in the Europa League final on Wednesday. “And it will be even cheaper if he wins the final .”

"Griezmann took full advantage," Marseille coach Rudi Garcia said. "I think the blame can be shared, it's 50-50."

The irrepressible Griezmann started and finished the move for his second, four minutes into the second half.

He athletically won a high ball in midfield and quickly swapped passes with Koke before gliding into the penalty area unchallenged and delicately clipping the ball over the onrushing Mandanda.

He celebrated both goals with an energetic celebratory dance from popular video game Fortnite, although he couldn't do it as well the second time around as he was quickly mobbed by teammates.

Marseille began with urgency, but striker Valere Germain wasted a great chance to taken an early lead when shot over after being played clear through on goal by Dimitri Payet's slick pass after three minutes. Center half Adil Rami shot just wide moments later as Marseille's positive start initially upset Atletico's rhythm in midfield.

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Atletico goalkeeper Jan Oblak also saved a late penalty from Faycal Fajr as Diego Simeone’s men warmed up for Wednesday’s Europa League final against Elsewhere, Samu Castillejo scored twice as Villarreal beat relegated Deportivo La Coruna 4-2 to leapfrog Betis into fifth, with Denis Cheryshev

With the match won , Gabi fired in a third with just a minute remaining. Antoine Griezmann was the inspiration for Atletico Madrid as he scored twice to seal a famous Europa Griezmann (centre) is joined by his team-mates as he celebrates his second goal of the Europa League final on Wednesday.

The French side's hopes faded after Payet went off injured in the 31st minute, with what appeared to a recurrence of a thigh injury.

"We missed our chance in the first half," Garcia said. "You can't fall behind against a team like Atletico. In the second half they raised their level and the best team won."

Marseille lost its third straight European final after coming up short in the UEFA Cup final — as the tournament was formerly known — in 1999 and 2004.

Moments after Griezmann's opener, Marseille fans were given a warning over the public address system to stop letting off flares and firecrackers or the game would be stopped. They carried on anyway, and so did the game, with sections of the stadium cloaked in thick pyrotechnic smoke.

But nothing could disguise Atletico's vast superiority, as it added to the Europa League trophies from 2010 and 2012. It 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."

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Jerome Pugmire on Twitter: www.twitter.com/jeromepugmire

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