Daily Digest: Atletico cruise to Europa League title, Pollard keeps Mumbai's hopes alive and Waugh slams India

Alex Broun 17/05/2018
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Morning, Alex Broun here with everything you need to know in the world of sport …

TOP STORY

GRIEZMANN DOUBLE STEERS ATLETICO MADRID TO EUROPA LEAGUE CROWN

France marksman Antoine Griezmann inspired Los Rojiblancos to the their third Europa League crown in eight seasons as Diego Simeone’s men eased to a 3-0 success over Marseille in Lyon on Wednesday night.

Rumoured to be Barcelona-bound, Griezmann cashed in with strikes in the 21st and 49th minute with Spanish midfielder Gabi adding the icing on the cake with a third on 89 minutes.

With got all angles covered from the match as Stuart Appleby gives us his talking points from the game, while Matt Jones provides his player ratings and Matt Monaghan provides his expert analysis of Griezmann’s masterful performance.

Clinical: Antoine Griezmann grabbed two goals.

Clinical: Antoine Griezmann grabbed two goals.

FOOTBALL

The Premier League’s transfer window opens today and we have all the hottest rumours with Barcelona’s Ousmane Dembele‘s possible departure to Liverpool heading the list.

England boss Gareth Southgate has also announced his squad for the World Cup and Matt Monaghan looks at three possible line-ups from the 23-man roster.

CRICKET

A return to form for West Indian all-rounder Kieron Pollard saw the Mumbai Indians edge out Kings XI Punjab by three runs in Mumbai last night to keep their IPL playoff hopes alive – at least for a few days. Ashish Peter has his take-aways from the match.

In other cricket news Mark Waugh has branded India as “selfish” and holding back the game for refusing to play a Day/Night Test on their Australian Tour this summer.

Mark Waugh has branded India "selfish"

Mark Waugh says India are “selfish”

REGIONAL

Diego Maradona, who recently departed as Fujairah coach, has pulled off another shock move agreeing to sign on as chairman of ambitious Belarus minnows, Dynamo Brest. Matt Monaghan has all the details.

Also in local AGL news Al Ain coach Zoran Mamic has bemoaned “mistakes over both the games” as The Boss were bounced out of the AFC Champions League by Al Duhail from Qatar, while Al Jazira have had a few licensing issues for the 2018/19 AGL season.

FEATURE OF THE DAY

UNDER-RATED MICHAEL CARRICK BOWS OUT

Manchester United's Michael Carrick

Manchester United’s Michael Carrick

Michael Carrick bowed out of football at Old Trafford on Sunday to little fanfare – “a trait that underlined a glittering and glorious yet ultimately understated career,” writes Matt Jones.

“Silky and smooth, safe and sure. That was Carrick to a tee. A fine footballer, but amid a generation of engine-room galacticos – and that’s just in England – he was never the goal-getting headline grabber earmarked for poster boy superstardom.”

But, writes Jones, not replacing the underrated Carrick is Man United’s biggest oversight.

Read the full story here.

SOCIAL MEDIA ROUND-UP

WHAT’S ON TONIGHT

IPL: Royal Challengers Bangalore v Sunrisers Hyderabad 18:30

Tennis: ATP 1000 Rome – Day 4 from 13:00

MLB: LA Dodgers @ Miami Marlins  20:10

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Europa League final player ratings as Antoine Griezmann glides for Atletico Madrid but Luiz Gustavo slides

Matt Jones 17/05/2018
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Atletico Madrid laid to rest the ghost of defeat in two of the last four Champions League finals by winning a third Europa League crown and third in nine years with a comprehensive 3-0 mauling of Marseille.

After a stuttering start, Antonie Griezmann, who is set to leave in the summer, put them ahead following a defensive error with a cool finish. He chipped in brilliantly for 2-0 just after the break while veteran Gabi fired in at the death to seal a fine triumph.

MARSEILLE (4-2-3-1)

Steve Mandanda – 5: Played his part in the opener as hasty clearance put his defence under pressure.

Bouna Sarr – 8: Tweeted after a dislocated shoulder following the 3-3 league game with Guingamp on Friday he would make the final. Marseille were grateful – he was excellent.

Adil Rami – 7: Fired an early effort just over. Led by example as he tried to inspire a revival from his side.

Luiz Gustavo – 3: Defensive midfielder started in the heart of defence in place of unfit Rolando. Endured a torrid evening dealing with Griezmann’s guile and combative Costa.

Jordan Amavi – 5: Fired a venomous late drive down Jan Oblak’s throat but struggled to cope with Correa’s forays forward.

Andre-Frank Zambo Anguissa – 5: Justified selection early on as his power helped Marseille impose themselves. Horrible error for Griezmann’s goal.

Morgan Sanson – 6: Started brightly but faded badly as Atletico exerted a stranglehold on the game.

Florian Thauvin – 6: A new player to the one who flopped at Newcastle. Netted 26 goals in 52 games this season but couldn’t exert influence after a bright start.

Dmitri Payet – 7: The architect of everything good Marseille did in the first 30 minutes. In tears as he was forced off after that.

Lucas Ocampos – 7: His bustling energy and lanky frame caused a myriad of mismatches for Atletico. Surprisingly taken off as Marseille chased.

Valere Germain – 4: Had a glorious chance early on to stun the favourites, but didn’t have the temperament to finish. Disappeared thereafter.

SUBS:

Maxime Lopez – 5: Entered the fray early for the unfortunate Payet. Had little influence on proceedings.

Clinton Njie – 4: Lucky not to be ejected for a petulant kick at Hernandez and horrible shank late on went out for a throw.

Kostas Mitroglou – 6: Had Oblak beat with a brilliant glancing header, which agonisingly came back off the inside of the post.

 

Luiz Gustavo struggled in the heart of Marseille's defence.

Luiz Gustavo struggled in the heart of Marseille’s defence.

ATLETICO MADRID (4-4-2)

Jan Oblak – 6: Barely had to lift a finger bar a few early crosses. A bystander for Mitroglou’s header and held Amavi’s firm effort.

Sime Vrsaljko – 4: Started instead of the experienced Juanfran but was hooked at the break after collecting a rash first-half yellow.

Jose Gimenez – 6: Atleti’s style to Godin’s substance at the back. Had little trouble patrolling alongside the experienced Uruguayan.

Diego Godin – 7: Commanding as Marseille mobbed Atletico early on, putting out  fires and then showed his experience to keep French at bay.

Lucas Hernandez – 7: Marseille-born France international showed his fellow countrymen no mercy. Got forward in second half as Atleti scented blood.

Angel Correa – 7: Simeone opted for the Argentine instead of the more industrious Thomas Partey, was rewarded with a lively display.

Gabi – 7: Assured performance, exactly what his manager had him on the field for. Assist for Griezmann’s opener and killed Marseille off.

Saul Niguez – 7: A rising midfield force in Europe. Marries power with poise and was a commanding presence in Atleti’s engine room.

Koke – 8: Such a classy player. His deft touch to slip in Griezmann for his second was exceptional.

Diego Costa – 6: Put in the shade by his brilliant strike partner, but a dogged display was exactly what his side needed.

Antonine Griezmann – 9: Coolness personified for both goals. If he’s leaving this summer, he does so by bestowing the perfect parting gift.

SUBS:

Juanfran – 6: Brought on to replace erratic Vrsaljko, performed duties diligently.

Thomas Partey N/A: Got in on the celebrations late but had little time to cut any shapes.

Fernando Torres N/A: Paraded in front of the Rojiblancos faithful when the game was safe.

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Griezmann's potentially perfect sign-off and more Europa League final talking points

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Clinical: Antoine Griezmann grabbed two goals.

Antoine Griezmann struck a superb brace to help seal Atletico Madrid‘s third Europa League title on Wednesday evening as Diego Simeone’s men eased to a 3-0 success over Marseille in Lyon.

The France striker was in imperious form and ultimately made the real difference as Atleti finally got their hands on a first major European trophy since 2012, having lost their past two Champions League finals to city rivals Real Madrid in 2014 and 2016.

Griezmann’s opener arrived in the 21st minute when he latched on to a Gabi knock-on, following a disastrous first touch by Andre-Frank Zambo Anguissa, and then sold goalkeeper Steve Mandanda the wrong way with a clinical finish.

The game was virtually over four minutes into the second-half as Koke found the striker’s fleet-of-foot run into the box and Griezmann exquisitely chipped the ball into the net. Gabi then got on the scoresheet for the third late on.

Earlier, things could have been so different when Marseille’s inspired captain Dimitri Payet – who later went off injured in the first-half – had released Valere Germain for a run on goal four minutes in, but he spurned a great opportunity. That was the closest they came.

Here, we look at the key taking points from the match.

A LAST ATLETI HURRAH FOR GRIEZMANN?

The transfer saga surrounding the Frenchman and his reportedly impending switch to Barcelona is set to continue to dominate speculation all summer.

With the World Cup coming up fast on the rails, in which the 26-year-old will be a star turn for France, the player himself will probably call the shots on his future. Whether his love four-year love affair with Atleti will be prolonged by another 12 months or the Blaugrana meet his supposed €100m release clause or not, it remains to be seen, but this was the perfect way to well and truly sign off, on a big stage, in possibly his penultimate game for the club.

Griezmann is the fulcrum to this team and loves playing under head coach Diego Simeone.

Will that be enough to convince him to stay? Unlikely. Atleti have lost star strikers in the past: Fernando Torres, Diego Forlan and Sergio Aguero to name but a few, but his departure would hurt.

This was his first major trophy for the club given he arrived after their La Liga success of 2014, so perhaps the time is as good as any to move on.

Atletico Madrid's French forward Antoine Griezmann scores the second goal past Marseille's French goalkeeper Steve Mandanda during the UEFA Europa League final football match between Olympique de Marseille and Club Atletico de Madrid at the Parc OL stadium in Decines-Charpieu, near Lyon on May 16, 2018. (Photo by FRANCK FIFE / AFP) (Photo credit should read FRANCK FIFE/AFP/Getty Images)

Clinical: Griezmann.

ARE PAYET’S WORLD CUP HOPES OVER?

France coach Didier Deschamps dropped Payet from his France squad for friendlies in March, in a move which served as a masterstroke. The 31-year-old, who is blessed with the kind of natural footballing ability only few players can dream about, subsequently picked himself up from a mid-season slump in spectacular fashion. 10 assists in 11 matches followed, as well as four goals, heading into Wednesday’s final. A return to the Les Bleu fold looked certain again.

But, after just 32 minutes in the showpiece, that dream – with Deschamps naming his squad for Russia on Thursday – appeared extinguished for the playmaker. He limped off in tears with a muscular problem, not only knowing that he could do nothing to rejuvenate a desperate Olympians side as their chief talisman, but his World Cup hopes lie in tatters too.

Payet’s tears when he was subbed off, for Cristiano Ronaldo fans, were a certain kind of Karma. Two years ago, in the Euro 2016 final, the then West Ham star targeted Portugal’s hero and ended his game in the first-half with a crunching tackle. Ronaldo and Portugal went on to win then. So again, Payet didn’t have the last laugh.

TOPSHOT - Marseille's French forward Dimitri Payet reacts after being defeated by Atletico at the end of the UEFA Europa League final football match between Olympique de Marseille and Club Atletico de Madrid at the Parc OL stadium in Decines-Charpieu, near Lyon on May 16, 2018. (Photo by Boris HORVAT / AFP) (Photo credit should read BORIS HORVAT/AFP/Getty Images)

Tearful night: Dimitri Payet came off injured in the first-half.

SIMEONE IS THE MESSIAH

The Argentine watched the final from the stands as punishment for his touchline behaviour during the semi-final first leg against Arsenal.

A man of Simeone’s stature and influence was always going to be missed from the technical area – but his players, like they always do, gave it everything for their manager out there. Long-term lieutenant German Burgos deputised at pitch-level in his absence, but the cult Atleti hero still pulled all the strings to land his second Europa League crown with the club.

A fine way to round-off a stellar campaign, in which they could pip city rivals Madrid to second domestically.

What next for the 48-year-old? He has a contract at the Wanda Metropolitano club until 2020 but is still continually linked to a host of clubs, with Premier League duo Arsenal and Chelsea in the mix to land the Red and White icon.

Simeone, like Griezmann in a way, has earned all the respect and has the power to weigh up his future options but this man is the heart and soul of Atletico. Expect him to stay and build again.

LYON, FRANCE - MAY 16: Diego Simeone, Coach of Atletico Madrid celebrates his team's victory in the UEFA Europa League Final between Olympique de Marseille and Club Atletico de Madrid at Stade de Lyon on May 16, 2018 in Lyon, France. (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)

Yet another title: Diego Simeone.

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