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Atletico Madrid claim Europa League

Atletico Madrid secured the first European trophy of the season with a 3-0 win over Athletic Bilbao in the final of the Europa League in Bucharest. The Madrid side defended their lead capably after Colombian striker Falcao scored two superb first-half goals.

English viewers who had seen the impressive way Bilbao dismantled Manchester United in an earlier round had expected the Basques to prevail, but the tactical astuteness and greater experience of Atletico were conspicuous.

Falcao’s first goal was stunning, as he cut back onto his left foot and curled a precise shot into the top-corner. The second was almost as good, as he fooled the Bilbao defence with a cute drag-back before finding the net. Brazilian Diego added a third late in the game, after Bilbao’s attacks had been resisted time and again by the Madrid defence.

It was a tactical triumph for Atletico coach Diego Simeone. As a player for Argentina he had learned a few lessons from the present Bilbao coach Marcelo Bielsa. As a player for Atletico he had won the league and cup double in 1996. This was his first success as the club coach.

"A lot was at stake," Simeone said. "People are very fond of me back in Madrid and they really expected this win. I'm really happy to give the fans of Atletico Madrid a new championship as a coach. We were very precise, very accurate, we felt comfortable on the pitch. Technically and tactically it was a good match for us."

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