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Dublin: 14 °C Tuesday 17 July, 2018
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Good evening! And welcome to our live coverage of this year’s Europa League final.

Tonight’s game pits one of the modern game’s truly great defensive teams against a Marseille side which has, well, punched above it’s weight to be here.

Diego Simeone’s Atletico are regulars to European finals at this stage, winning this competition in 2012 on top of Champions League final appearances in both 2014 and 2016.

All of that means Rudi Garcia’s side are very much the underdogs heading into tonight’s game. Marseille haven’t won a European title since that infamous Champions League success in 1993, and have not gotten to a European final since 2005 — when they lost the Uefa Cup to Valencia.

That said, Atletico boss Simeone has warned his players not to take their opponents lightly tonight. “Experience is a little thing that can help but it’s not going to have too much influence,” he said this week.

“We’ll be excited, up for it, but also tense. We need to take the game where we want it and do damage where we can.”

One of the major selling points of the Europa League is that it offers a chance for automatic qualification to the Champions League.

Atletico have a top four spot in La Liga secured, meaning there is that little bit more incentive for Marseille seeing as they currently only occupy a Europa League spot in Ligue 1 as it stands.

With that said, Marseille supporters know that the pressure is firmly on Atletico here today. The Spaniards are Champions League regulars and have won the Europa League in both 2010 and 2012.

The French club have surprised many getting to tonight’s final. Their stars feature ex-West Ham man Dimitri Payet as well as Florian Thauvin, firstly overcoming a group filled with Red Bull Salzburg, Konyaspor and Vitória de Guimarães.

Next they beat Braga in the last 32, before dumping out Athletic Bilbao, RB Leipzig and then RB Salzburg en route to tonight’s showpiece on home soil. As Simeone himself said, one would be unwise to underestimate Marseille.

So, tonight’s teams are:

Marseille: Mandanda, Sarr, Rami, Gustavo, Amavi, Zambo, Sanson, Thauvin, Payet, Ocampos, Germain.

Subs: Pele, Sakai, Kamara, Rolando, Mitroglou, N’Jie, Lopez.

Atletico Madrid: Oblak, Vrsaljko, Gimenez, Godin, Lucas, Correa, Gabi, Saul, Koke, Griezmann, Costa.

Subs: Werner, Filipe Luis, Thomas, Torres, Savic, Juanfran, Gameiro.

COSTA STARTS: Diego Costa has had some minor injury woes in recent months, but partners Antoine Griezmann up top for Atletico tonight.

He has seemed his bullish, bullying self once again after managing to escape his hell at Stamford Bridge. Believe it or not he wasn’t around when his side won this competition in 2010 or in 2012, and would no doubt relish the chance to secure a Europa League title tonight.

Olympique de Marseille v Club Atletico de Madrid - UEFA Europa League Final Source: Stephen McCarthy - UEFA

And what a moment it would be for this man. Fernando Torres will leave his boyhood club at the end of this season and what a moment it would be for the 34-year-old to depart with a European medal around his neck.

959218160 Source: Stephen McCarthy - UEFA

Here’s one for you: a young Fernando Torres, aged 11, attends an Atletico game at the Vicente Calderón, chanting the name of his manager Diego Simeone. Amazing

Source: Luciana Picanço/YouTube

2Mins

Marseille boot the ball right into the corner from the tip-off, punching up high on Atletico right from the off. If this stadium looks familiar, it probably is. The Groupama Stadium, home of Lyon, was the location of Ireland’s exit from Euro 2016 — losing 2-1 to France thanks to a double from that man Antoine Griezmann. But let’s never mention it again.

5Mins

CHANCE! Ohhhh what a miss! Marseille really should be ahead; Paynet plays Valere Germain clean through on goal but the striker completely fluffs the opportunity and boots the ball well and truly over the crossbar.

He was one on one with Jan Oblak there, but lost his composure when it mattered most. A dreadful chance passed up by Marseille inside four minutes, and they really should be ahead.

7Mins

A second chance in quick succession for Marseille. This time centre back Adil Rami whisks a long-range effort just shy of the post. I don’t think Oblak had all his angles covered there. An inch or two more to the left and it would have graced the back of the net. An excellent start to this game for Rudi García and his men.

11Mins

Marseille really have been excellent inside these opening 10 minutes. A third chance comes and goes following some swift, steady passing play on the edge of the box. The ball is eventually fed to the boot of winger Florian Thauvin, who has a go from range.

But the shot is weak and lags wide of the post. Atletico yet to have a real go on goal so far and seem just a little bit flustered.

15Mins

Simeone’s men push forward and fashion a chance out of the blue. A cross into the box is poorly cleared by Luiz Gustavo. Possession falls on a plate to Koke who attempts a spectacular volley (like a wild karate kick), but it drifts well wide.

16Mins

It’s been an exciting game so far on the pitch, and off it both sets of supporters have been making some serious noise.

Olympique de Marseille v Club Atletico de Madrid - UEFA Europa League Final Source: Matthias Hangst

Olympique de Marseille v Club Atletico de Madrid - UEFA Europa League Final

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27Mins

We have liftoff! Atletico are ahead after an excellent start from their opponents.

It’s an absolute gift of a goal and a howler of an error from Zambo Anguissa. Goalkeeper Steve Mandanda rolled a harmless pass out to the midfielder, however his control allowed Atletico to pounce.

Griezmann found himself played clean though on goal and, not needing an invitation, slid the ball underneath Mandanda with an excellent low finish. 1-0 Atletico!

28Mins

This game has exploded into life and Marseille have receded into themselves since conceding. Things go from bad to worse as captain Dimitri Payet goes down injured — his night appears to be over before it even got properly started. Heartbreaking for the forward.

31Mins

Substitution for Marseille: Maxime Lopez replaces Dimitri Payet.

33Mins

34Mins

The tension is palpable on the faces of Payet’s team-mates, as well as his manager Rudi Garcia. The forward was carrying a knock heading into tonight’s final, but his camp insisted he was perfectly fine to play ahead.

His side started this game so electrically, however the momentum has swung firmly in favour of Atletico. Payet’s loss will be immeasurable, as Marseille now face a mountain against one of Europe’s most impenetrable defences.

40Mins

45Mins

Well, that was a very quiet end to a quite exciting half. Marseille began excellently with pace in attack and chances aplenty. They really did succeed in giving Atletico an early scare, but had the stuffing knocked out of them with Antoine Griezmann’s goal after 21 minutes.

Rudi Garcia’s side will be kicking themselves as it was a goal that was completely preventable. His side were then dealt a second blow, as captain Dimitri Payet limped off after just 32 minutes.

Will Diego Simeone’s men see this one out? They are a team like no other, in that they actually excel defending with their backs against the wall. Marseille have a mountain to climb here.

46Mins

Atletico have made one change at the break, the experienced Juanfran replacing Sime Vrsaljko (who was on a booking) at right back for the second half.

48Mins

It’s Atletico’s final to lose now following Griezmann pinpoint finish in the first half.

FBL-EUR-C3-MARSEILLE-ATLETICO-FINAL Source: AFP/Getty Images

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FBL-EUR-C3-MARSEILLE-ATLETICO-FINAL

50Mins

Atletico are two to the good! Antoine Griezmann is having the time of his life as the French forward slots home his 32nd goal in all competitions this season.

It was another snappy counter from Atletico — Koke fed the ball through to Griezmann who slipped the ball over Steve Mandanda with an audacious and subtle chip. Simeone’s men are 40 minutes away from the Europa League title!

50Mins

52Mins

54Mins

The Atletico fans are really making themselves heard now. They are two goals up and Marseille just haven’t looked like creating anything in the final third since Payet’s departure. They are sinking at the moment and desperately need a lifeline.

59Mins

Despite all the flack the Europa League takes season after season, this really has felt like a proper European occasion with good goals, great play and a superb atmosphere between the two sets of supporters.

Atletico undoubtedly belong in the latter stages of the Champions League each year, but they certainly will not turn their backs on the chance to lay claim to another piece of silverware. 2010, 2012… 2018?

We shall  have to wait and see.

61Mins

Lucas Hernandez bombs forward and allows himself a shot at goal. His shot is defected and he loses possession… only to muscle it back and earn a corner.

Great battling from the defender as Atletico push forward in search of a third. Despite their excellent defensive qualities, they sense blood here and want to put this to bed.

68Mins

Better play from Marseille as they go for broke in all out attack. They don’t have any other option really, and are finding relative success down the right wing via Morgan Sanson.

They are knocking on the door, to use a terrible cliche, but Atletico are being held rigid and disciplined at the back by Diego Godin and Jose Gimenez.

Simeone’s side are absolutely immovable and just don’t look like conceding one bit. It’s like a team of 11 Paul McGrath’s on display at the moment.

70Mins

Luiz Gustavo is shown a yellow card for kicking out at Griezmann outside the box. The French international crosses into the box where Saul Niguez peels away at the front post unmarked, but he can only direct a header wide of the bottom corner.

75Mins

It’s been the Antoine Griezmann show all night. Will the 27-year-old grab his third and wrap up a historic Europa League final hat-trick?

Olympique de Marseille v Club Atletico de Madrid - UEFA Europa League Final Source: Maja Hitij

Olympique de Marseille v Club Atletico de Madrid - UEFA Europa League Final

Olympique de Marseille v Club Atletico de Madrid - UEFA Europa League Final

78Mins

It is incredible that Griezmann has only one Supercopa de España to his name after four seasons in the Madrid capital.

He has shown tonight that he is one of Europe’s elite strikers and has being heavily rumoured to be joining Barcelona this summer. A massive loss to Atletico, but what a way it would be to sign off delivering a Europa League title with two goals in the final.

Still, there’s the guts of 15 minutes for Rudi Garcia’s side to wreck their party. It’s not over until it’s over, as they say.

80Mins

The Spaniards are still continuing to push for a third and put this game beyond any doubt. Lucas Hernandez finds more success bombing forward down the left wing, and he earns his side a free-kick from a decent position 30 yards out from goal.

82Mins

CHANCE! Koke takes the free-kick short, and he is happy to recycle possession. But Marseille attack on the counter via right-back Bouna Sarr and come within a WHISKER of halving the deficit.

A ball into the box is headed emphatically towards goal by Konstantinos Mitroglou but can only lick the post. It was merely inches from crawling over the line. What a finale that would have set up had it gone in.

84Mins

SHOT! Marseille firing shots on goal like it’s no-one’s business late on here. This time it’s a pile driver from range courtesy of Clinton Njie… but it’s aimed right at Jan Oblak, who gathers with ease.

The Ligue 1 club are really rallying, but it might just be too little too late with a little over five minutes remaining.

90Mins

This game is done and dusted as Atletico add a late third. Marseille were at sixes and sevens at the back, Koke selflessly picks out Gabi inside the box and the midfielder slams a brilliant low finish into the bottom corner. 3-0!

91Mins

And just to add an extra layer of emotion and sentimentality to this occasion, Fernando Torres enters the fray to replace the match-winner Griezmann. Torres will leave his boyhood club at the end of this season with a Europa League medal in his back pocket. A fitting end to a club legend.

90Mins

THERE WE HAVE IT! Atletico Madrid are Europa League champions for the third time in eight years and the second time under Diego Simeone. They were easily the better side across the 90 minutes and made a comprehensive victory of it with three goals to no reply.

Marseille began superbly but after Antoine Griezmann’s opening goal and Dimitri Payet’s premature exit through injury, they always faced a mountain too steep to climb.

The second half was all Atletico thereafter, with Griezmann’s adding a second before captain Gabi added the gloss with a third in the 89th minute.

Thanks a million for joining us, have a good night!

About the author:

Aaron Gallagher

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