Diego Costa sent Atletico Madrid through to the Europa League final as the Spanish club won Thursday’s second leg 1-0 at home to clinch a 2-1 aggregate victory over Arsenal.
After a 1-1 draw a week ago in London, former Chelsea striker Costa grabbed the decisive goal just before half-time in Spain as Atletico reached a fifth European final in eight years.
Here are our Atletico Madrid player ratings:
Jan Oblak 6 – Had little to do but was still solid if unspectacular. Made one great save from Xhaka in the second half.
Thomas Partey 7 – The Ghanaian right-back made a couple of telling defensive contributions and looked good going forward. Made an important challenge to deny Ramsey in the second half.
Jose Gimenez 7 – As industrious as ever. The Uruguayan is a real fulcrum in the Atletico defence alongside Godin.
Diego Godin 7 – Commanded the box as per usual and never fails to produce a stellar performance.
Lucas Hernandez 6 – Worked his socks off and made some important tackles. Shouldn’t be any doubt over his place in the French World Cup team based on his performances over the two legs.
Vitolo 6 – Focuses on himself rather than the team. Easy to see why he is an irregular presence in Diego Simeone’s starting XI with his lack of work-rate in attack and defence.
Saul Niguez 7 – Vital component in Atletico’s midfield – and alongside Thomas – made some powerful surges forward.
Gabi 6 – Kept regularly involved without ever making the real telling pass that would have killed the game off. A good link man but needs to get in more dangerous positions.
Koke 6 – Was average at best. Provided plenty of width down the right and tracked back well but his final ball was lacking.
Diego Costa 8 – The central figure in the story tonight. His well-struck goal before the break made the difference between the sides.
Antoine Griezmann 8 – Never stopped working and probing especially in the second half. Provided the assist for Costa’s opener before the break.
Angel Correa 6: Replaced Vitolo after 74 minute and didn’t have an impact.
Fernando Torres N/A: Came on for Costa late on.
Stefan Savic N/A: Played the final few minutes in place of Thomas.
Arsene Wenger named the same Arsenal side for their Europa League second leg against Atletico Madrid that started the first-leg draw at the Emirates Stadium last week.
The Gunners boss, taking charge of his 250th UEFA club competition match as a manager, opted against recalling fit-again Henrikh Mkhitaryan, even though the midfielder played over an hour at Manchester United on Sunday.
Instead, Danny Welbeck retained his place in the side with David Ospina once again preferred to Petr Cech in goal as Wenger looks to reach the final in what will be his final season at Arsenal.
Former Chelsea striker Diego Costa was named in the starting line-up for Atleti, who are favourites to progress having drawn 1-1 in north London despite playing with 10 men for 80 minutes.
Costa was only fit enough to be an unused substitute last week but leads the line alongside Antoine Griezmann, who cancelled out Alexandre Lacazette’s goal in the first leg.
An almost fit again Neymar will fly from Rio to Paris on Friday some 40 days ahead of the World Cup finals in Russia, French daily L’Equipe has reported.
While his return is too late to have any impact for his club, Brazil fans are desperate for their iconic star to lead the team out in Russia.
The 26-year-old Paris Saint-Germain forward — at 220m euros (263m US dollars) the most expensive player in history — broke a bone in his right foot on February 26 playing for PSG and has been in a race for fitness since undergoing surgery in Brazil a week later.
According to L’Equipe Neymar has been walking without crutches for two weeks but the star striker said last week from his coastal mansion in Rio that he would not play before a final medical on May 17, two days ahead of his club’s last match of the season.
PSG declined to comment on Neymar’s return but could do so later Thursday at a pre-match press conference ahead of Friday’s Ligue 1 game with Amiens.
In Neymar’s absence PSG were beaten by Real Madrid in the Champions League but have regained the French league title and the League Cup and face third division Les Herbiers on Tuesday.