Falcao leads Atletico Madrid to victory

Falcao's hat-trick lead his team to trounce floundering Chelsea 4-1 in stellar European final.

    Falcao leads Atletico Madrid to victory
    Coach Di Matteo said Chelsea gave Atletico Madrid's thrice-scoring Falcao "too much space and time" [Reuters]

    European champions Chelsea have crashed to a 4-1 Super Cup defeat to Atletico Madrid here on Friday, with the Spanish side's Colombian hotshot Radamel Falcao the star of the show at the Stade Louis II stadium.

    Falcao's first half hat-trick had Chelsea, featuring Atletico old boy Fernando Torres, reeling and Miranda's second half offering compounded the misery for Roberto di Matteo's men.

    "In the first half we were very poor and they were very sharp. We started very slow and sloppy and they penalised us," he told ITV, pulling no punches in his post-match assessment.

    The tone of the encounter was set as early as the fourth minute when Falcao, known as El Tigre (the tiger), hit the crossbar in front of a crowd  including Prince Albert of Monaco and England manager Roy Hodgson.

    Three minutes later the red hot 26-year-old put the Europea League winners in front, latching onto Adrian Lopez's long ball to chip over Chelsea goalkeeper Petr Cech.

    On 19 minutes he was at it again, this time curling the ball in from 15 yards with his left foot into the far corner, the ball out of reach of Cech's outstretched hand.

    That was Falcao's 41st goal from 53 appearances since joining Atletico from Porto, with goal number 42 coming on the stroke of half time.

    On the counter attack from a corner at the far end Falcao, bought by Atletico from Porto for 40m euros ($50.3m) last year, rushed onto Arda Turan's square pass across the penalty area to slot home clinically.

    This was Falcao's second hat-trick in as many matches having fired three past Athletic Bilbao on Monday in the Spanish league in a rematch of last season's Europa League final.

    And it could have been a first half four-timer if the upright hadn't got in the way of his 35th minute header.

    Chelsea, outshone and outplayed by their Spanish rivals before the break, tried to assert control on the game in the second half, but despite greater possession they fell further behind on the hour mark, with Miranda getting on the scoresheet from a setpiece, the ball deflected off the sliding Gary Cahill.

    Defender Cahill got a 75th minute consolation goal for Chelsea, shooting low past Thibaut Courtois from close range from a corner taken by Frank Lampard.

    "If we play like that I have my responsibility too. It was a bad defeat, but we'll bounce back," said Di Matteo

    Chelsea were captained by Lampard in the absence of the suspended John Terry.

    Terry was handed a three-match ban, reduced to two matches on appeal, when he was sent off for an off-the-ball clash with Alexis Sanchez in the Champions League semi-final second leg at Barcelona, which kept him out of the final against Bayern Munich.

    Having won his appeal he will now be able to play from the start of Chelsea's title defence against Juventus next month.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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