MADRID: Atletico de Madrid and their original parent club, Athletic Bilbao, will meet in the Europa League Final in Bucharest on May 9 and fulfilling expectations and both winning their semi-final second legs.
After their semi-final first leg at Sporting Lisbon finished 2-1 to the Portuguese side, Bilbao made a brilliant start when Markel Susaeta struck the first goal of the second leg after 17 minutes. Then in two quick-fire minutes, Ricky van Wolfswinkel edged Sporting back in front, before Ibai Gomez netted another for Bilbao moments before the break.
With the score level at 3-3 on aggregate, the game looked to be heading to extra time, when Bilbao striker forward Fernando Llorente made his mark on the tie with a close range finish two minutes from time, to ensure Bilbao won 4-3 on aggregate.
Bilbao’s revivalists success this season has helped make coach Marcelo Bielsa one of the favourites to succeed Pep Guardiola at Barcelona if the latter, as expected, confirms that he will not be renewing his rolling contract.
Things were much simpler for Atletico, who did most of the hard work in their first leg with Valencia which they won 4-2. A superb strike from Adrian Lopez put the gloss on a superb 5-2 aggregate win though, the forward thumping a glorious angled shot into the top corner in the 60th minute to end Valencia’s hopes of a comeback.
Atletico lost captain Thiago to a needless red card late on when he was dismissed following a clash with Roberto Soldoda which sparked a player melee and he will now miss the final.
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