Atletico Madrid eclipse Ajax & Barcelona as Europe’s finest
Atletico Madrid’s 3-0 win over Spanish rivals Athletic Bilbao last night not only sealed a second Europa League triumph in three years, but also ensured they etched their names into the record books.
Scintillating goals from Falcao (2) and Diego ensured Diego Simone’s men claimed a remarkable 12th successive win on the European stage, eclipsing the previous record of 11 shared by Ajax between 1987 and 1988 and Barcelona in the 2002-03 season.
During the run Los Colchoneros bagged 30 goals, with profilic marksman and final hero, Falcao netting 11 of those, while they conceded a measly seven.
In addition to their 12 wins in a row, Atletico have also set the record for most victories in single season in European competiton with 17 from 19 games.
Poruguese giants Porto, held the previous record having chalked up 14 en route to winning the competition last season, with Falcao again the match-winner with the only goal in their 1-0 win over Braga.
But Atletico have now trumped that by virtue of their 13 wins in the group and knockout stage as well as the four victories they achieved in the pre-qualification stage against Stromsgodset (2-1 and 2-0) and Vitoria de Guimaraes (2-0 and 4-0).
In all, Atletico only failed to win two games in the campaign. A 1-1 draw with at Rennes followed by a 2-0 defeat to Udinese at the Stadio Friuli in the group stage.
Meanwhile, Ateltico’s winning streak was not the only record to tumble in an absorbing night in Bucharest. Falcao’s double took his tally in the competition this season to 12, making him the tournament’s top scorer for the second successive season after his record breaking 17 goals for Porto last term. The first time that feat has ever been achieved.
The prolific Colombian, who has scored an incredible 29 goals in his last 29 Europa League outings, also became the first man to win back-to-back Europa titles with two different teams, not to mention the first player to score in two consecutive finals.
Atletico’s record-breaking 12 successive wins:
4-0 v Udinese (h) – Group stage
1-0 v Celtic (a) – Group stage
3-1 v Rennes (h) – Group stage
3-1 v Lazio (a) – Last 32
1-0 v Lazio (h) – Last 32
3-1 v Besiktas (h) – Last 16
3-0 v Besiktas (a) – Last 16
2-1 v Hannover 96 (h) – Quarter-final
2-1 v Hannover 96 (a) – Quarter-final
4-2 v Valencia (h) – Semi-final
1-0 v Valencia (a) – Semi-final
3-0 v Athletic Bilbao (n) – Final