Atletico Madrid clinch crown

Forlan strikes leave Fulham forlorn

Atletico Madrid clinch crown

Jubilant Atletico:  Madrid players celebrate after winning  the Europa League title on Wednesday. Reuters

Uruguay's Forlan scored both goals, the second just four minutes from the end of extra-time in a game that crackled with excitement from the start, after being set up on each occasion by his Argentine team-mate.

Fulham showed all the strength of character that had earned them their first European final appearance and came agonisingly close to a penalty shoot-out that might just have delivered them the title in the first season of the rebranded UEFA Cup.

Instead, an epic journey that began back in July and took in 19 matches ended in heartbreaking style.  They had recovered from Forlan's first goal in the 32nd minute, with Simon Davies popping up unmarked at the back post to squeeze in a first-time shot for an equaliser five minutes later, and lived with their more fancied opponents comfortably enough until Forlan's second sealed their fate.  "Unfortunately, Diego Forlan popped up to score a goalscorer's goal in the first half and again at the end, and then there was no time to recover," Fulham manager Roy Hodgson told reporters. "It was a bitter disappointment."

That disappointment was a familiar experience for Hodgson, who also tasted UEFA Cup final defeat 13 years ago when his Inter Milan side lost on penalties against Schalke 04.

For Atletico, it was another glorious night in Germany following their only other European final success, in a replay against Fiorentina in Stuttgart in 1962.

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