We're halfway through the Europa League final in Bucharest, and it looks as though Atletico Madrid are going to take home the prize at Athletic Bilbao's expense. The difference maker has been Radamel Falcao. The former Porto man, who notched the winner in last year's final against Braga, has struck twice here, and his team are 2-0 up and not looking particularly inclined to let Athletic back into the match.
Atletico Madrid dominated the early stages, with Athletic incredibly wasteful in possession and surprisingly porous in defence. Atleti right winger Adrian was looking particularly dangerous, and he nearly made the most of a promising spell by Jon Aurtenetxe inside out before a swarm of green shirts got back and relieved him of possession. However, that only delayed the inevitable, and on the next attack Falcao struck.
It was not a position you'd expect anybody but one of the world's best centre forwards to turn into an unstoppable goal. Unfortunately for Athletic, that's exactly what Falcao is. Checked away from his planned run towards Gorka Iraizoz's goal, he merely danced back a step and sent a lovely curling drive straight into the top corner from twelve yards. Atleti were 1-0 up, six minutes in.
Fortunately, as far as competitiveness is concerned, the goal woke up Athletic and they began to pose real problems to their opponents' defence. Fernando Llorente was furious not to have received a penalty when he was pulled back while going for a header, and Thibaut Courtois was called into action on a long-range effort from Iker Munian, which the young Belgian barely managed to parry away.
That Athletic pressure didn't mean much though, because hey Falcao. It looked like the threat was over after an Atletico free kick ended up at Fernando Amorebienta's feet, but he failed to clear and suddenly the road was clear for Arda Turan to fizz in a cross. It wasn't the best of deliveries, but it was good enough for the Colombian, who reeled it in, spun away from his man, and rifled past Iraizoz for his second. Right now, there's just no stopping him.