NYON: Diego Costa ensured Arsene Wenger’s 22-year reign as Arsenal manager will end in Huddersfield and not Lyon as the former Chelsea forward hit the winner for Atletico Madrid in the Europa League semi-finals.
The Spanish club will be favourites to win the final against Marseille in Lyon on May 16.
Wenger announced last month that he will step down at the end of the season, a campaign now set to end in bitter disappointment and with no silverware following a 1-0 defeat at the Wanda Metropolitano.
The Gunners lost captain Laurent Koscielny early on, reportedly with a torn Achilles, and the visitors’ night got worse on the stroke of half-time when Costa notched the goal that secured a 2-1 aggregate win for Diego Simeone’s side.
Costa was an unused substitute in London as he recovered from injury, but he more than anyone has exposed the weak underbelly of the Arsenal defence which has undermined Wenger’s final years at the Emirates Stadium.
Arsenal are likely to finish sixth in the Premier League – their lowest under Wenger – and the new manager will inherit a side not in the Champions League.
This competition offered the chance of a final trophy for the 68-year-old, who took charge of his 250th European game, but it will be Europa League football for Wenger’s replacement, with the outgoing boss now set to say his goodbye after the final league game of the season at Huddersfield’s John Smith’s Stadium.