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).

FootballGerman sparks three goals in four minutes at favourite No 10 role
Rumer was diagnosed with bipolarity, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder: 'I was convinced it was a misdiagnosis'
peopleHer debut album caused her post-traumatic stress - how will she cope as she releases her third record?
A long jumper competes in the 80-to-84-year-old age division at the 2007 World Masters Championships
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Radamel Falcao was forced to withdraw from the World Cup after undergoing surgery
premier leagueExclusive: Reds have agreement with Monaco
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvHe is only remaining member of original cast
Lewis Hamilton will start the Singapore Grand Prix from pole, with Nico Rosberg second and Daniel Ricciardo third
F1... for floodlit Singapore Grand Prix
Life and Style
Walking tall: unlike some, Donatella Versace showed a strong and vibrant collection
fashionAlexander Fury on the staid Italian clothing industry
Arts and Entertainment
Gregory Porter learnt about his father’s voice at his funeral
Arts and Entertainment
tvHighs and lows of the cast's careers since 2004
Life and Style
Children at the Leytonstone branch of the Homeless Children's Aid and Adoption Society tuck into their harvest festival gifts, in October 1936
food + drinkThe harvest festival is back, but forget cans of tuna and packets of instant mash
New Articles
i100... she's just started school
New Articles
Life and Style
Couples have been having sex less in 2014, according to a new survey
Arts and Entertainment
musicBiographer Hunter Davies has collected nearly a hundred original manuscripts
New Articles
i100... despite rising prices
Holly's review of Peterborough's Pizza Express quickly went viral on social media
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.

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam