A double by Colombian striker Radamel Falcao inspired Atletico Madrid to a 3-0 win over fellow Spaniards Athletic Bilbao here on Wednesday and their second Europa League trophy in three seasons.
Falcao, who also became the first player to win successive Europa League/UEFA Cups with different sides having scored the winning goal for Porto last term, scored a brilliant first-half double to take his tally for this season’s competition to 12.Brazilian attacking midfielder Diego, who missed the 2009 final for Werder Bremen against winners Shakhtar Donetsk because he was suspended, added a third late in the second-half to give Argentinian coach Diego Simeone a trophy just months after he took over the hotseat.
Atletico’s victory also saw them break Barcelona’s record of successive wins in European competition as they recorded their 12th to break the record of 11 set in the 2002/03 Champions League campaign.
Falcao, named after the great Brazilian footballer of the 1982 and 1986 World Cup teams, said he was especially pleased because people had advised him not to go to Atletico.
“I cannot contain my joy,” said the 26-year-old. “After all, that has been said, like that I made a mistake in going to Atletico, I showed them it was no mistake.”
Simeone, a former hard tackling midfielder who won over 100 caps, paid tribute to his players. “Winning is always marvellous, but you enjoy it more as a player, because one is on the pitch, one can scream, run, do a lap of honour,” said the 42-year-old.
Rovers sack hunt
reuters adds from london: Blackburn Rovers’ deputy chief executive Paul Hunt has left the club after a letter was made public in which he asked the Indian owners to sack manager Steve Kean, the club said. The letter from Hunt to Venky’s was written in December after Blackburn fell to the bottom of the League table.
Despite Blackburn being relegated from the Premier League on Monday, the owners have stood by Kean. “Blackburn Rovers FC can confirm that deputy chief executive Paul Hunt has left the club,” Blackburn said in a statement. Hunt’s departure adds to the sense of unease at Rovers.