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How Atletico beat Arsenal to reach Europa League final

By News Express on 04/05/2018

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Diego Costa sent Atletico Madrid through to the Europa League final as the Spanish club won Thursday’s second leg 1-0 at home to clinch a 2-1 aggregate victory over Arsenal.

After a 1-1 draw a week ago in London, former Chelsea striker Costa grabbed the decisive goal just before half-time in Spain as Atletico reached a fifth European final in eight years.

Arsenal’s defence, fragile and nervous throughout, were particularly susceptible and this 1-0 defeat, 2-1 on aggregate, means Arsene Wenger’s final season in charge will end with his team missing out on Champions League qualification for a second year in a row.

For all his domestic achievements, Wenger will also depart without a European trophy to his name and it remains to be seen how sitting outside the continent’s premier tournament will affect Arsenal’s pursuit of a new coach, and players, this summer.

More immediately, there was the concerning sight of Laurent Koscielny being carried off on a stretcher in the 12th minute after the defender went down, with nobody near him, clutching his left Achilles.

Arsenal and France now face an anxious wait, with the start of the World Cup just over a month away.

Koscielny’s exit made a tough task all the more difficult for Arsenal, who were always going to be up against it at the Wanda Metropolitano, where Atletico have not lost in the league all season and not conceded a goal since January.

It was perhaps also telling that Costa’s physicality and Atletico’s defensive rigour ultimately proved decisive, two qualities Wenger’s Arsenal in recent years have so lacked.

Costa was hunting Arsenal’s back four from the outset as he wrestled past Koscielny, knocked over Nacho Monreal before firing wide with only David Ospina to beat.

Koscielny was substituted soon after, replaced by Calum Chambers, but Arsenal enjoyed one of their best spells midway through the half, dominating possession and reducing Atletico to a series of rushed clearances. (AFP)

 

Atletico players celebrate at the end of the UEFA Europa League semi-final second leg football match against Arsenal in Madrid

Source News Express

Posted 04/05/2018 03:41:58 AM

 

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