MADRID-Diego Costa killed Arsene Wenger's last hope of a glorious Arsenal farewell as his goal sent Atletico Madrid through to the Europa League final on Thursday.

Wenger's 250th European fixture with Arsenal also to proved to be his last, decided by a typically ruthless finish from Costa, who delivered the sort of barnstorming display defenders must have nightmares about. Arsenal's defence, fragile and nervous throughout, were particularly susceptible and this 1-0 defeat, 2-1 on aggregate, means Wenger's final season in charge will end with his team missing out on Champions League qualification for a second year in a row.

For all his domestic achievements, Wenger will also depart without a European trophy to his name and it remains to be seen how sitting outside the continent's premier tournament will affect Arsenal's pursuit of a new coach, and players, this summer. "I'm very sad tonight," Wenger said. "Unfortunately you have to go through that - the game can be very cruel, sometimes very nice, but the suffering is very strong tonight." More immediately, there was the concerning sight of Laurent Koscielny being carried off on a stretcher in the 12th minute after the defender went down, with nobody near him, clutching his left Achilles. "It doesn't look very good, it's his Achilles," Wenger said. "You can always hope for a miracle in the scan but if he has a ruptured Achilles, his chances for the World Cup are non-existent."

Koscielny's exit made a tough task all the more difficult for Arsenal, who were always going to be up against it at the Wanda Metropolitano, where Atletico have not lost in the league all season and not conceded a goal since January. It was perhaps also telling that Costa's physicality and Atletico's defensive rigour ultimately proved decisive, two qualities Wenger's Arsenal in recent years have so lacked. "Costa came back here for nights like this," Atletico coach Diego Simeone said. "To be important, to lead from the front. This side needs an aggressive striker and that's exactly what he is."

Costa was hunting Arsenal's back four from the outset as he wrestled past Koscielny, knocked over Nacho Monreal before firing wide with only David Ospina to beat. Koscielny was substituted soon after, replaced by Calum Chambers, but Arsenal enjoyed one of their best spells midway through the half, dominating possession and reducing Atletico to a series of rushed clearances.

At the back, however, they were shaky, as Ospina had balls booted out of his grasp by his teammates on more than one occasion while their passing out of the back was too often careless. By the end of the half, Atletico had regained the ascendancy and in injury-time, they struck. Granit Xhaka's weak header put Arsenal on the back foot and Antoine Griezmann threaded through to Costa.

He held off Hector Bellerin with ease before coolly finishing past Ospina. Arsenal came again after the interval. Aaron Ramsey bundled his way through but the ball would not fall for him six yards out while Mesut Ozil flashed too sumptuous deliveries across the face of goal.

Griezmann could have put the tie to bed after Costa had turned Shkodran Mustafi inside out but the defender recovered just in time to block. A vintage Costa performance would not be complete without a scuffle and he provided it when Mustafi tried too enthusiastically to grab the ball off him for a free-kick. Both players were booked and when Costa was substituted soon after, the striker was given a standing ovation.

Arsenal piled forward late on in search of an equaliser but in truth, their night ended without them really creating a clear-cut chance. When the final whistle blew, Wenger marched straight down the tunnel as around him, Atletico's celebrations began.

Meanwhile, Marseille booked a Europa League final meeting with Atletico Madrid after Portuguese defender Rolando struck in extra time to grab a 3-2 aggregate victory over a spirited Salzburg on Thursday. Salzburg produced a rousing second-half performance to wipe out a 2-0 first-leg deficit, but Marseille became the first French side to reach a European final since 2004 despite a 2-1 defeat on the night.

Amadou Haidara gave the dominant hosts hope early in the second half with an excellent individual effort before Bouna Sarr's own goal levelled the semi-final. Rudi Garcia's visitors survived some late scares to force a further half-hour and substitute Rolando volleyed home a 116th-minute Dimitri Payet corner that shouldn't have been given.

The 20-year-old Haidara, the outstanding player on the night, was sent off as his frustrations boiled over, as Salzburg's incredible run which included wins over Borussia Dortmund and Lazio came to an end. Marseille, runners-up to Valencia in the UEFA Cup 14 years ago, will make the short trip from their Stade Velodrome home to take on Atletico in the final in Lyon on May 16, after the Spaniards beat Arsenal in the other semi-final.

"We believed in it and in the end we managed to get everyone together, all the people of Marseille believed in us, we're in the final," defender Adil Rami, who won the tournament with Sevilla two years ago, told BeIN Sports. "It's going to be a big game, we will have given a wonderful experience to all the people of Marseille and now we have to win this final."

Payet, who set up both of Marseille's first-leg goals, immediately provided a set-piece threat as his wicked delivery from a free-kick was turned over by Lucas Ocampos in the sixth minute. Salzburg, knowing a Marseille away goal would all but end the tie, were cautious in the first half and failed to cause the visitors any real anxious moments, with their best effort a tame shot from Munas Dabbur straight at goalkeeper Yohann Pele -- playing with Steve Mandanda still out injured.

Marseille started strongly after the interval, with Ocampos and Valere Germain both going close, but Salzburg blew the tie wide open by breaking the deadlock in the 53rd minute. Malian international Haidara burst forward and fired a low strike under the body of Pele to halve the deficit with his eighth goal of the season. That goal gave the Austrians renewed hope and Pele had to be alert to beat away a venomous long-range strike from Brazilian centre-back Andre Ramalho.

The equaliser was coming and it duly arrived in the 65th minute with Haidara again playing his part as Marseille's defence capitulated. The midfielder's low cross was miskicked by centre-back Rami straight to Xaver Schlager, whose sliced volley was turned into his own net by Sarr.

Salzburg, who also beat Marseille 1-0 at home in the group stage, had chances to move in front, as Croatian defender Duje Caleta-Car headed over and Pele sprung to his right to tip away a low drive from substitute Hwang Hee-chan. Marseille came agonisingly close to booking a place in the final in normal time, but Florian Thauvin's header came back off the crossbar.

Both sides were nervy at the start of the extra 30 minutes, but Marseille were left indebted to their stand-in goalkeeper as Pele produced a magnificent one-handed save to keep out Caleta-Car's powerful header. Rolando was sent on by Garcia to try and secure a penalty shoot-out, only to snatch a controversial winner. A corner was awarded despite Andre-Frank Zambo Anguissa's shot appearing to strike a Marseille foot before flying behind, and the 32-year-old Rolando side-footed another dangerous Payet cross into the net.

 

MADRID: Atletico Madrid's forward Antoine Griezmann vies with Arsenal's midfielder Jack Wilshere during their UEFA Europa League semifinal second leg football match.–AFP