Griezmann dashes Marseille's Europa League dream
Antoine Griezmann was Olympique de Marseille's executioner-in-chief as the France international striker scored twice in a 3-0 win as Atletico de Madrid won the UEFA Europa League final.
Wednesday, 16 May, 2018
UEFA Europa League final
Groupama Stadium, Lyon
Olympique de Marseille 0-3 Atletico de Madrid
Backed by a huge, passionate following at Olympique Lyonnais' Groupama Stadium, Marseille raced out of the blocks. Dimitri Payet and Florian Thauvin, two of the chief architects of OM's run to their first European final since 2003/04, linked up to sweep their side up the pitch — Payet then slipped the ball through to Valère Germain.
The former AS Monaco forward looked set to give Rudi Garcia's men a dream start, but with only Jan Oblak to beat, he lifted his shot over the crossbar before sinking to the turf, head in hands (3').
Adil Rami half-volleyed wide shortly afterwards and Payet fired straight at Oblak (18) as Marseille looked most likely to break the deadlock until Atletico did.
For Griezmann, born just 60km away from Lyon into a family of OL supporters, this was almost a home game, but he could not have expected the gift OM offered him to open the scoring.
Steve Mandanda might have cleared his lines, but opted to try to retain possession when he received a backpass, playing the ball to André-Frank Zambo Anguissa. The Cameroon international's poor first touch led to Griezmann being played in behind the back four, and the clinical France international did the rest (21').
Marseille absorbed the body blow of going behind against the run of play, but after Payet, who had been a doubt for the game with a thigh injury, went off in tears just 31 minutes in, their trophy challenge was severely handicapped.
Atletico, winners of the competition in 2010 and 2012, emerged from the break with a clear determination to wrap up the game. Only a precisely timed Bouna Sarr challenge prevented Angel Correa bearing down on Mandanda (48') before Koke's pass found a rampaging Griezmann, whose delicate chip over Mandanda and into the net belied the breakneck speed at which he was moving (49').
The France international forward then had a powerful shot deflected behind by Luiz Gustavo (52') and Diego Godin headed narrowly wide from the resulting corner (53') as Diego Simeone's men pressed menacingly.
Kostas Mitroglou, a second-half replacement for Germain, headed against a post in the closing stages (80') and Jordan Amavi's drive brought a routine save from Oblak (83') before Gabi drilled a low shot into the far corner to leave Marseille in tears (89').
THE PLAYER: Luiz Gustavo
Not so much for his performance in the final, but for the Brazilian's stunning contribution to Marseille getting that far in the first place. The fact Payet gave him the armband when the OM captain was forced off tells its own story.
THE STAT: 3
Marseille now share an unwanted record with Benfica having lost their third UEFA Cup/Europa League final (1999, 2004 & 2018).