MADRID: Atletico Madrid striker Diego Costa haunted Arsenal again by firing his side to a 1-0 win in last night’s Europa League semi-final second leg to send the Spaniards into the final and deny Arsene Wenger a dream end to his long reign as Arsenal coach.
Atletico won the tie 2-1 on aggregate and will meet either Salzburg or Olympique de Marseille in the final in Lyon on May 16.
Costa proved a handful for Arsenal when he played for Chelsea and the Spain striker broke the deadlock in a tight, tense game at the Wanda Metropolitano, striking in first-half stoppage-time after being played in by Antoine Griezmann.
Arsenal defender Laurent Koscielny was carried off on a stretcher early in the first half with a suspected torn Achilles tendon and they struggled to cope with Costa’s power and the flair of his attacking partner Griezmann.
Wenger’s side were blunt in attack against a typically determined and resilient Atletico defence and they only had one shot on target, a distance strike from Granit Xhaka which was not enough to beat goalkeeper Jan Oblak.
Atletico did not create many chances but they always looked in control and kept a remarkable 12th consecutive clean sheet in all competitions at their Wanda Metropolitano stadium to reach a fifth European final since 2010.
A late goal in extra-time by veteran defender Rolando sent Olympique de Marseille through to their first Europa League final after a 3-2 aggregate victory over a spirited Salzburg side who won the semi-final second leg 2-1.
The Ligue 1 team led 2-0 from the first leg in France but were pegged back by hosts Salzburg, who almost repeated their comeback heroics of the previous round.
After a quiet first half, the Austrians took the lead on the night through a brilliant solo strike by the influential Amadou Haidara before Bouna Sarr’s own goal made it 2-0.
With the tie level on aggregate, the match went to extra-time and neither side could find an opening until a Dimitri Payet corner found Portuguese defender Rolando with four minutes left.