On-fire and in-demand Falcao takes Atletico Madrid to second Europa League triumph in three years
Radamel Falcao produced a stunning display enabling his Atletico Madrid side to beat Athletic Bilbao 3-0 in the Europa League final in Bucharest on Wednesday night.
His two goals exhibited supreme technique, unblemished composure and perfect finishing, sending out a warning to Europe’s biggest clubs, most of whom have chased his signature at one point or another.
Falcao has shown sublime form of late, as well as having an excellent history in the Europa League final, scoring Porto’s only goal and winner in last year’s final.
His majestic double in this year’s showpiece displayed just how formidable the Colombian striker has become.
His first goal showcased his fantastic finishing ability, cutting in onto his left foot in the penalty area, wrong-footing Amorebieta, before curling the ball into the far corner with such finesse that it caressed the back of the net.
For his second, he then demonstrated his brilliant feet and presence of mind to bring the ball down with his back-to-goal. With defenders pressing him, he swiftly turned, dragged the ball into space and blasted it emphatically past the goalkeeper.
They were the 34th and 35th goals of the season for a player that Pep Guardiola has hailed as “sensational”, and few will argue with such praise.
Indeed, Guardiola’s club for the time being may be one of a number of European heavyweights chasing his signature this summer and it’s hard not to see why.
He has taken to the task of replacing both Sergio Aguero and Diego Forlan at the Vicente Calderon like a proverbial duck to water and has led the line on his own so brilliantly that his boss, Diego Simeone, has resisted the temptation to pair him with a strike partner.
As for Bilbao, their brilliant run to the final saw them cast as underdogs for most of their knockout ties, however, they were unable to manage one final miracle in the final itself.
Their aggressive, flamboyant brand of football with such a young team has won them many admirers, but it was not enough to compete with Atletico’s experience and tactical nous.
The main issue at San Mames will now be attempting to retain their talented bunch as Europe’s biggest clubs close in on many of them.
They will do well to hold on to these talents as comparatively they are a small club paying small wages and the lure of Champions League football is sure to incentivise some of their players to move on to the next stage.
If there was anything else sensational about the game, it would be the support of both fans which was both raucous and undying, showing how seriously this tournament is taken everywhere else in Europe apart from Britain.
However, one team’s fans had to go home disappointed and it was to be the Basque supporters that would trudge their way home from Bucharest, while the Madridistas will join their neighbours Real – recent winners of La Liga – in celebrating a well earned, deserved trophy.