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Two years after triumphing in the inaugural UEFA Europa League, Club Atlético de Madrid will compete for the trophy again after Diego Simeone's ten men reached the final with a 5-2 aggregate triumph over Valencia CF.
During that successful run in 2010, Los Rojiblancos saw off Unai Emery's side at the quarter-final stage. They proved the scourge of Valencia once again with Adrián López's superb volley the highlight of a largely defensive performance from an Atlético side – devoid of their dismissed captain Tiago for the last 11 minutes – intent on protecting a 4-2 first-leg lead.
Now in his fourth season in charge at Valencia, Emery described this match with Atlético as the most important of his coaching career and, after a subdued start, his players responded to the occasion with a concerted attacking effort.
On target in last week's first leg, Jonas had the home fans on their feet when he deflected Sofiane Feghouli's drive from a Daniel Parejo corner goalwards. Visiting goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois blocked the effort, however, and responded quickly to deny the Brazilian again from the rebound.
Feghouli then drilled narrowly over before Roberto Soldado's slide and shot from Antonio Barragán's deep centre suffered a similar fate. All of that combined with Sergio Canales's trickery and Jordi Alba's energetic bursts up the wing provided the home supporters with belief that their team's situation was retrievable.
An away menace lurked, however. Simeone's charges caused a scare when Arda Turan broke free on the right before feeding Falcao who was just denied by Diego Alves, the goalkeeper diving to clear at the Colombian's feet. Valencia's record of never having lost to a Spanish side at home in Europe before, and their impeccable semi-final pedigree in UEFA competition, were looking shaky, more so when Canales departed in tears with a leg injury.
The mood inside the stadium soured and it was not long before Adrián sunk the hosts' spirits after he controlled Diego's flighted pass on his chest before thumping an unstoppable volley past Alves. It was a goal worthy of sending his team to the final in Bucharest on 9 May but Atlético will go there without Tiago, dismissed after an off-the-ball incident.
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