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Tuesday 20th March 2018

Greizmann Scores Twice as Atletico Wins Europa League Over Marseille


7Dnews London - AP

Thu, 17 May 2018 18:03 GMT

Striker Antoine Griezmann scored two expertly-taken goals in what may be his last high-profile game with Atletico Madrid Wednesday night, helping the club to a 3-0 victory over Marseille and its third Europa League championship in 9 years.

Griezmann's standout performance eased bitter memories of 2016, when he missed a second-half penalty in Atletico's Champions League final loss to Real Madrid.

"It was a dream of mine to win this trophy with my teammates and with Simeone," the France forward said. "Simeone has taught me a lot. He's made me into a better player and one of the best in the world. I hope I can continue to win more trophies." But probably not with Atletico.

Wednesday’s goals are likely to be a parting gift as Griezmann has been increasingly linked to a move to Barcelona.

"I don't think it's the time to talk about my future," Griezmann said. "I want to enjoy the moment. I want to enjoy this with the fans."

Meanwhile, Marseille's fans who made the three-hour road trip went home regretting what might have been if striker Valere Germain had converted a third-minute chance.

"We missed our chance. You can't fall behind against a team like Atletico," Marseille coach Rudi Garcia said. "In the second half they raised their level and the best team won."

Marseille came looking for their second European trophy since they won the Champions League 25 years ago, but they had no answer to Griezmann. Captain Gabi capped off Atletico's victory with a third score in the last minute after being set up by Koke.

"It's about more than a trophy," Simeone said. "It represents the value of hard work, a steady hand and consistency, values to be successful in life."

Several Marseille players reacted to the final whistle with tears after being undone by a player who was rejected by several French clubs as a youth because of his small stature.

"This is a reward for me after I left home aged 14, for all the work I have put in," Griezmann said. "There has been joy and sadness, but I am so happy."

Griezmann coolly placed his first goal in the bottom left corner in the 21st minute after a set-up by midfielder Gabi. The goal was aided by Marseille's languid defence after midfielder Zambo Anguissa failed to control a casual pass out from goalkeeper Steve Mandanda and let the loose ball bounce straight to Gabi.

It only took four minutes into the second half for Griezmann to find his second goal.

Swiftly moving up the field after winning a high ball in midfield, the Frenchman swapped passes with Koke and then clipped the ball over the onrushing Mandanda and into the net.

He celebrated both goals with a goofy celebratory dance from the popular video game Fortnite.

Marseille, which lost finals at this level in 1999 and 2004, began the game with urgency and nearly took an early lead. Germain’s shot over the goal came after being played clear through by Dimitri Payet's pass, and an agonizing miss followed moments later by Adil Rami’s shot wide as Marseille's positive start upset Atletico's rhythm.

The initial upset to Atletico’s rhythm faded after Payet left the field with an apparent thigh injury in the 31st minute.

By the end of the first period, little could disguise Atletico's vast superiority. The gulf in experience is evident in Atletico’s recent history. The club took home Europa League trophies in 2010 and 2012, and appeared in the Champions League finals in 2014 and 2016, losing to Real Madrid both times.

Atletico took Griezmann off in the final moments to give veteran forward Fernando Torres a send-off, as he came on to a huge ovation from the red-and-white horde of Atletico fans. The 34-year-old Torres is leaving at the end of the season, and raised the trophy aloft with his right hand in front of adoring fans who nicknamed him "The Kid" when he started his career in 2000.

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