Prolific Falcao batters the Basque Euro dream

Atletico Madrid 3 Athletic Bilbao 0

It was meant to be a fairytale first European trophy for the last team in Europe who still draw all their players from their own region, but instead it was decided by a €40m (£35m) striker whose ownership is clouded by the vagaries of third-party investment funds.

Radamel Falcao has now scored 30 goals in his last 29 Europa League games. He got the winner in the final last year for Porto, and last night in Bucharest's National Stadium he delivered the first-half brace that saw Atletico Madrid win a second Europa League trophy in three years.

The Jorge Mendes-represented player will be the striker everyone wants this summer; what is not so clear is whom the interested parties will need to persuade to release him. Atletico signed him last summer for just €5m less than they sold Sergio Aguero for.

The money they received for Aguero was earmarked for the Spanish tax office, which they still owe €215m, so there has been a need to draw on investment funds and loans, and with Falcao the match-winner in the first half at one end they also had the on-loan Chelsea goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois to thank at the other end for a solid second-half display, saving especially well from Ibai Gomez after he had robbed Juanfran in the area.

But, bought or borrowed, the Atletico players deserved their triumph. They played the first game in the competition in July and 18 games later, with just one defeat and one draw behind them, they steamrollered a disappointing Athletic Bilbao.

The game was only seven minutes old when Diego's pass found Falcao, who turned inside Fernando Amorebieta to curl a left-foot shot into Gorka Iraizoz's top right-hand corner. On 34 minutes he got his second, this time receiving from the left and stepping away from Amorebieta again. Falcao's tally for the season now reads 35 in all competitions.

At the other end, a poor Fernando Llorente volleyed a De Marcos cross wide; the Athletic winger claimed a penalty as his surging run was ended by a push from Miranda but Wolfgang Stark waved away his appeals.

Ibai and Iñigo Perez came on at half-time but the Basques were unable to find the form that had seen them beat Manchester United in both legs en route to the final.

Markel Susaeta shot from distance and Courtois saved brilliantly from Ibai but with every chance for Athletic to close the gap came another for Atletico to extend their lead with Falcao hitting a post in search of his hat-trick.

On 85 minutes Atletico's third goal came when Amorebieta – again – was bypassed in the penalty area, this time by Diego, another on loan to Madrid.

Coach Diego Simeone has brought the best out of his Brazilian midfielder. The former Argentina captain, who played for the Bilbao coach Marcelo Bielsa in 30 of his 106 games for his country, had told his players beforehand: "You have to enjoy the occasion as if it's your first and play the match as if it's your last." They did him proud.

Athletic Bilbao (4-3-3): Iraizoz; Iraola, Martinez, Amorebieta, Aurtenetxe, Herrera, Iturraspe, De Marcos, Susaeta, Llorente, Muniain

Atletico Madrid (4-2-3-1): Courtois; Juanfran, Godin, Miranda, Luis Felipe, Gabi, Mario Suarez, Adrian, Diego, Turan, Falcao.

Referee W Stark (Germany).

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

Time to play God

Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

MacGyver returns, but with a difference

Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

Tunnel renaissance

Why cities are hiding roads underground
'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

Boys to men

The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

Crufts 2015

Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
10 best projectors

How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

Monaco: the making of Wenger

Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

Homage or plagiarism?

'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower