Watch the highlights as Atletico Madrid edges Arsenal for a place in the 2018 Europa League final.

By Avi Creditor
May 03, 2018

Atletico Madrid is off to another European final, while Arsene Wenger's dream ending at Arsenal is off the table.

Diego Costa's goal was all Atletico Madrid needed in the second leg of their Europa League semifinal, with the hosts winning 1-0 on the day and 2-1 on aggregate to reach the title stage. 

Alexandre Lacazette's goal and a red card to Sime Vrsaljko figured to give Arsenal control in the first leg, but Antoine Griezmann's late equalizer tilted the balance toward Atletico Madrid, with the hosts carrying the away-goal tiebreaker and a pristine defensive mark at home. They both held up, and Atletico is off to its fifth European final in the last nine seasons. Twice it has won the Europa League (2010, 2012) and twice it has fallen just short in the Champions League (2014, 2016).

Arsenal was hoping to send Wenger off with a European trophy and a berth in next season's Champions League, but it was unable to come up with a result away from home, continuing a theme that has taken hold during the Premier League season since the turn of the new year.

Arsenal was looking for its breakthrough goal early. Jack Wilshere pleaded for a penalty in the sixth minute, as he appeared to be shoved from behind by Atletico Madrid defender Jose Gimenez when trying to play a cross from Lacazette. No call was given, though, and Arsenal couldn't do anything with the ensuing corner kick.

On the other end, Costa, fit and in the lineup, bodied off a pair of Arsenal defender and blasted a chance from close range wide of the target.

Arsenal suffered a personnel blow in the ninth minute, when veteran French center back Laurent Koscielny went down with a non-contact injury. Costa and Wenger immediately made the motions for a substitution, with Koscielny in clear pain on the ground awaiting a stretcher. He was carried off the field and replaced by Calum Chambers, and reports suggest a torn Achilles, which would rule him out of the World Cup and deep into next season.

Atletico Madrid nearly scored its opener on an audacious volley from Koke. Arsenal struggled to clear from its own box, and a looped header eventual fell to Koke 20 yards out, where he laced a left-footed bouncer toward David Ospina's goal. It went just wide of the far post, though, keeping it scoreless on the day.

A minute later, in the 38th, Griezmann nearly scored off a set piece. A free kick was played to him in the box, where he took it down, turned and put a left-footed chance just wide of the same far post.

Atletico found the breakthrough with the final kick of the first half. Off a long ball down the field, Griezmann controlled before threading a diagonal ball for Costa. The former Chelsea man burned Arsenal once again, bodying off a defender and beating Ospina from close range to make it 1-0 on the day and 2-1 on aggregate.

Arsenal nearly pulled level in the 63rd minute from long range, with Granit Xhaka lacing a low drive at the right post, but Jan Oblak got down to his left to palm the chance to safety and keep Atletico Madrid in the driver's seat.

Henrikh Mkhitaryan, in off the bench, nearly brought Arsenal even in the 71st as he latched onto a failed clearance and ripped a right-footed volley that narrowly cleared the bar on Oblak's goal. That was the Gunners' last real hope, and they bow out in the semifinal stage in disappointing fashion.


Here were the lineups for both teams:

The Europa League final will take place on May 16 in Lyon, France, where Atletico Madrid will take on Marseille.

The French side will play for a trophy on home soil after controversially beating Salzburg in extra time. Salzburg erased a two-goal aggregate deficit after the first leg to force the extra 30 minutes, but a corner kick that Marseille should not have had resulted in Rolando's go-ahead goal in the 116th minute to seal the triumph despite the 2-1 defeat on the day.

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HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
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Birdie (-1)
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