Lyon, Thursday @Peoplesport11
If this is to be Antoine Griezmann’s final game for Atletico Madrid, he can certainly count on a warm welcome each and every time he returns to the Wanda Metropolitano in his red-and-blue striped shirt.
The Frenchman, who is expected to join Barcelona this summer, had not won a single major honour with Diego Simeone’s side before Wednesday night, but can now leave with his name securely placed in Atletico folklore after an inspirational display to seal the Europa League.
Griezmann netted either side of half-time, first thanks to a mistake from Marseille’s Andre Zambo Anguissa and the second the result of a neat one-two with the equally talented playmaker Koke. The match was won by the time Gabi thundered in the third in the 89th minute to allow celebrations to begin early.
For the two enfant terribles (a child who is terrifyingly candid by saying embarrassing things to parents or others) in the recent history of the Premier League, this Europa League final threw up two sorely contrasting evenings.
For Diego Costa, the pitbull of a striker that terrorised Antonio Conte and endured six weeks without pay as he began his season in hiding in his Brazilian hometown, this became a night to justify all his mumbling and grumbling.
After escaping Chelsea, he is back home with the club he adores, the manager, Diego Simeone, who he respects above all and a trophy in his hands once more. He is now certain to form part of the Spain squad at this summer’s World Cup.
As for Dimitri Payet, the dazzling playmaker that stole the hearts of West Ham supporters before tearing them apart, this was a night of heartache.
Payet, the Marseille captain, has a similar story to Costa, a similar attachment to a club where he is now in his second spell and he arrived in Lyon yearning to clutch the trophy.
As he walked out before the game, Payet committed one of football folklore’s well-established sins, touching the trophy as he passed it by. Bad luck, that, they say, and so it proved here.
Payet saw his team fall a goal behind when Griezmann profited from an error in the first-half and disappointment turned to agony when he pulled up with a muscular injury shortly afterwards.
As he departed the field, tears spilled down his face and with France set to name their World Cup squad on Thursday, the omens do not bode well for one their most gifted individuals. -DAILYMAIL