Atletico knock out Arsenal in Europa League

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Outgoing Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger’s chance of winning a farewell silverware was shattered on Thursday, as two-time champions Atletico Madrid edged past the Gunners 1-0 to book a berth for the Europa League final on 2-1 aggregate.

Having the home advantage and an away goal from their 1-1 draw at the Emirates Stadium in the first leg, the Madrid side needed a goalless draw in the second leg of the semifinal at Wanda Metropolitano. The Spanish club, however, were playing without their suspended coach Diego Simone as he had to watch the game from the gallery.

Atletico Madrid’s Diego Costa (R) celebrates a goal during the UEFA Europa League semi-final second leg match against Arsenal. /VCG Photo

It was former Chelsea striker Diego Costa who returned to the Atletico side to torment the Premier League club in the first half on a number of occasions.

In fact, it was Arsenal’s bête noire Costa, who was controversially involved in the sending off of two Arsenal players in September 2015 while playing for the Blues, who drew the first blood in the stoppage time before the break. Antoine Griezmann slipped the crucial pass through to Costa after coming close with a powerful strike from a tight angle and Costa didn’t make any mistake to chip in for the all-important goal of the match.

The jolted Arsenal side made a valiant comeback in the second half and came close to scoring their elusive equalizer when Aaron Ramsey just missed the net.

They continued to pile up pressure on the hosts, but failed to breach the impregnable Atletico defence marshalled by a rock-solid Diego Godin.

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger speaks with Arsenal’s Laurent Koscielny as he is stretchered off at Wanda Metropolitano, Madrid. /VCG Photo

To make things bad to worse for Wenger’s side, Arsenal captain Laurent Koscielny was stretchered off with an Achilles injury, which may jeopardize his participation in next month’s FIFA World Cup in Russia.

When the final whistle was blown, Atletico made it to their third Europa League final in eight years as they will take on Marseille in Lyon on 16 May. On the other hand, Arsenal’s defeat means they will miss out on Champions League football for the second straight season while Wenger, who will leave the club at the end of the season after being 22 years in the helm, will remain trophy-less in his farewell season.

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