Atletico Madrid 1-0 Arsenal (Agg: 2-1): Diego Costa knocks Gunners out
By James Walker-Roberts
Last Updated: 04/05/18 9:52am
Diego Costa ended Arsene Wenger's hopes of bowing out with silverware as Arsenal suffered an agonising 1-0 defeat to Atletico Madrid in the second leg of their Europa League semi-final to lose 2-1 on aggregate.
With the tie level after the first leg, former Chelsea striker Costa struck in first-half injury-time to secure victory at the Wanda Metropolitano for Atletico, who will face Marseille in the final.
Arsenal fashioned a number of openings but the final pass was too often lacking as they were unable to breach Atletico's defence.
Atletico Madrid: Oblak (7), Thomas (6), Gimenez (6), Godin (8), Lucas (7), Gabi (6), Saul (6), Koke (7), Vitolo (6), Griezmann (7), Diego Costa (8)
Subs: Correa (5), Torres (5), Savic (5)
Arsenal: Ospina (5), Bellerin (4), Mustafi (5), Koscielny (5), Monreal (6), Xhaka (6), Ramsey (6), Wilshere (5), Ozil (5), Welbeck (5), Lacazette (5)
Subs: Chambers (7), Mkhitaryan (5)
Man of the match: Diego Costa
The closest the visitors came to scoring was when Jan Oblak saved well from Granit Xhaka and substitute Henrikh Mkhitaryan fired narrowly over the bar.
But Arsenal ultimately paid the price for two significant defensive lapses over the course of the tie, the first resulting in Antoine Griezmann's late goal at the Emirates and the second giving Costa the chance to score at the end of a tight first half.
Having named the same team that started in the first leg, Arsenal showed some encouraging signs in the early stages in Madrid, despite a serious-looking injury to Laurent Koscielny that saw him stretchered off after just 10 minutes.
However, the Gunners failed to make the most of some promising opportunities, with Nacho Monreal and Mesut Ozil both unable to find team-mates with cut-backs into the box.
Costa and Griezmann spurned chances for Atletico when they missed the target from close range.
But just as the game appeared to be drifting towards half-time, the hosts struck as Arsenal switched off defensively. Jan Oblak's clearance was played forward to Griezmann and he slid in Costa, who finished over David Ospina after getting goal-side of Hector Bellerin.
Arsenal threatened a response early in the second half and saw Aaron Ramsey go close when he shot wide under pressure from in front of goal.
Oblak saved well from Xhaka and Shkodran Mustafi headed over as the Gunners continued to create chances.
At the other end, Griezmann was denied by a brilliant block from Calum Chambers as he looked poised to finish from six yards out.
Arsenal continued to push and probe in a tense finish, but the equaliser evaded them as Mkhitaryan fizzed a shot just over the bar in the 72nd minute and Atletico held firm to book their place in the final on Wednesday, May 16 in Lyon.
Arsenal named the same starting XI as in the first leg, with Mkhitaryan on the bench. Diego Costa, Vitolo and Gabi started for Atletico.
- Atletico Madrid have qualified for the final of the Europa League for the third time; a joint-high alongside Sevilla - indeed, they've gone on to win the competition in each of their previous two final appearances (in 2009/10 and 2011/12).
- Diego Simeone's side have now reached the final of a major European competition in three of the last five campaigns (previously the Champions League in 2013/14 and 2015/16).
- After progressing from their first six semi-final ties in European competition, Arsenal have now been eliminated in each of the last two (2008/09 v Manchester United in the Champions League and this year v Atlético Madrid).
- This was Arsene Wenger's 216th and final European game in charge of Arsenal (incl. qualifiers), ending with a 58th defeat (W110 D48 L58).
- Diego Costa has scored four goals in seven appearances versus Arsenal in all competitions, including netting in each of his last two games against them.
- The Gunners haven't kept a clean sheet in any of their last eight games in all competitions; their longest run without one since December 2016 (a run of 12 games).
Arsene Wenger has taken charge of his final European match as Arsenal manager. His European record with the Gunners:— Sky Sports Statto (@SkySportsStatto) May 3, 2018
P216 W110 D48 L58
Seasons in Europe: 22
Semi-finals: 4 (W2 L2)
2000 UEFA Cup – L4-1 on pens v Galatasaray (after 0-0)
2006 CL – L2-1 v Barcelona#UEL pic.twitter.com/ZhlwcaSU2h
Man of the match - Diego Costa
Having regularly been the scourge of Arsenal during his time with Chelsea, Costa yet again got the better of the Gunners' defence.
He took his goal well, showed his strength throughout and also displayed several nice touches in and around the box that could have resulted in more chances for Atletico.
Arsene Wenger takes charge of his final home game with Arsenal on Sunday. Tickets for the clash against Burnley are selling for up to £1,800 each.
Atletico Madrid host Espanyol in La Liga on Sunday, live on Sky Sports.