Falcao’s final flourish

Radamel Falcao justified his golden boot billing by firing Atletico Madrid to Europa League glory last night.

The Colombia striker produced two moments of magic in the first half before Diego’s late goal put the seal on Atletico’s second title in three years.

Diego Simeone’s side were vastly superior in their eagerly awaited all-Spanish final against Athletic Bilbao as Marcelo Bielsa’s men froze on the big occasion.

Falcao’s 11th and 12th goals of the tournament not only earned him the top scorer prize ahead of Schalke’s Klaas Jan Huntelaar but took his all-time record in the competition to 29 in 29 games, including the winner for Porto in last year’s final against Braga in Dublin.

Bilbao have thrilled and delighted onlookers this season, never more so than in their win over Manchester United, but never truly got going last night as their big names disappointed.

Atletico went ahead as early as the seventh minute when Falcao worked a yard of space in the penalty area before curling a magnificent left-footed effort inside the far post.

He then doubled Atletico’s lead in the 34th minute when he brilliantly turned Jon Aurtenetxe in the area and lashed home.

The third goal came in the 85th minute when Brazilian Diego took on Gaizka Toquero and Fernando Amorebieta before firing low across Gorka Iraizoz. Ibai’s drive skimmed the crossbar in the closing seconds but there was no way back for Athletic.

As Atletico celebrated, their opponents’ despair was summed up by the sight of Iker Muniain sprawled full-length on the ground in tears.

ATLETICO MADRID: Courtois, Juanfran, Godin, Miranda, Filipe Luis, Mario Suarez, Gabi, Diego (Koke 90), Adrian (Salvio 88), Turan (Dominguez 90),Falcao.

ATHLETIC BILBAO: Iraizoz, Iraola, Javi Martinez, Amorebieta, Aurtenetxe (Ibai 46), Ander Herrera (Toquero 63), Iturraspe (Inigo Perez 46),De Marcos, Susaeta, Llorente, Muniain.

Referee: Wolfgang Stark (Ger).


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