Madrid, May 4 (IANS) Atletico Madrid rode an inspired performance from Diego Costa in the second leg of the Europa League semi-finals to defeat Arsenal 1-0 (2-1 on aggregate) and enter the final.
The contest was played in an electric atmosphere at Wanda Metropolitano Stadium here on Thursday night where nearly 65,000 fans responded to the call by suspended Atletico coach Diego Simeone the day before to serve as a true 12th man and will the home side to victory, reports EFE news agency.
But having given up a goal at home in a 1-1 first-leg draw last week, Arsenal needed to play with a sense of urgency and took control of midfield in the first half thanks to the play of Jack Wilshere and Aaron Ramsey, who repeat edly threaded the needle with passes to the Gunners’ trio of forwards.
Arsenal striker Alexandre Lacazette posed a constant threat in the first 45 minutes and defender Hector Bellerin created danger with forays down the right side but without producing any change on the scoreboard.
Atletico Madrid, meanwhile, came close to opening the scoring on a left-foot ed blast by Koke from one corner of the area and another strike by Antoine Griezmann.
Finally, that pressure paid off late in first-half injury time, when Costa capitalized on a perfect pass from Griezmann and fired a left-footed shot past goalkeeper David Ospina and into the back of the net in the 48th minute.