Europa League: Radamel Falcao restores some Madrid pride by helping Atletico to win over Valencia


Real Madrid might have been beaten in the Champions League this week but neighbours Atletico took a step towards the final of the Europa League last night with a 4-2 win at home over Valencia in their semi-final first leg, Colombian striker Radamel Falcao scoring twice.

Falcao gave Atletico the lead at the Vicente Calderon in the 18th minute, reacting quickly to head in from close range. However, Brazilian striker Jonas equalised on the stroke of half-time, steering the ball home from a corner.

Diego Simeone's side regained the lead almost immediately after the break, Diego flighting in a free-kick for unmarked defender Miranda to score with a header. Adrian then cut through the Valencia defence to make it three and Falcao's spectacular drive into the top corner made it 4-1 before Ricardo Costa's late header gave Valencia some hope for the return.

In the other semi-final, Athletic Bilbao, who knocked out Manchester United, took the lead in Lisbon through Jon Aurtenetxe only for Sporting to fight back to win 2-1 with goals from Emiliano Insua and Diego Capel in the last 15 minutes.