5 things we learned from the Europa League final

This article originally appeared on TheScore.ie.

Falcao will be on the move

He may not have been involved in the action as much as his team-mate Hulk, but the Columbian forward certainly raised his stock ahead of the summer transfer window with his cracking header in the first half. The 25-year-old was kept quiet for most of the game, but he was clinical in taking the only real goalscoring opportunity that came to him in fantastic fashion.

Having scored 41 goals in 50 games for Porto, he has shown he can pop up consistently with the goals but his amazing haul of 17 in the Europa League will approve with any potential suitors. The only goal in what was otherwise a rather dismal game has put this man on the map in Europe.

Villas-Boas takes on step in Mourinho’s direction

Ever since taking on the reins at Porto, Andre Villas-Boas has been regularly compared to his Portuguese counterpart Jose Mourinho. Even though Mourinho had spent a year at Benfica to begin his career as a head coach, Porto was his first big job – and the same can be said for Villas-Boas, who moved from Academica two years ago.

Winning the Europa League this year means Villas-Boas has matched Mourinho’s first European success back in 2003, a year in which he also won his first league trophy as a manager. With Villas-Boas already taking one step in Mourinho’s excellent career path, the signs are on clear that the 33-year-old could be the next big thing in football managers.

Braga are one of the worst teams to ever get this far

Ok so they might not be the worst ever, but Braga were truly dismal on Wednesday night. They’re known for being a robust, physical unit with little by way of attacking flair and goalscoring prowess, but the fact that they got all the way to the final must baffle many of the people who tuned in to watch the game.

They were physical, that’s for sure. Hulk was lucky to leave the Aviva Stadium on two feet. They were set up well tactically, and almost pulled off the perfect opening half of football before Falcao rose up to head in the only goal. But in terms of ball retention and getting the ball into the box, there was nothing.

The biggest chance of the game fell to a substitute who had just come on, Mossoro, but he mustered a weak shot that was blocked by the keeper’s legs. They had more chances than many had expecting them to have, but that was thanks to Porto gifting them to Braga. If they had put at least one away they would have had a huge chance, but they just never looked like troubling Helton.

Referees refuse to give red cards in finals

Silvio’s tackle on Hulk was without doubt a red card, but the referee (who is known for never taking out the red card) gave him a yellow. If that was any other type of game, a league match for example, then I can’t see anything other than a red card for that tackle.

Does that suggest referees are still wary of handing out red cards in big games? Howard Webb’s refusal to give Nigel De Jong a red card in the World Cup final last summer is a lasting memory from that game. Obviously that was a lot more high profile, but both were about half way through the first half and both incidents deserved sending offs. There should be no thought in a referee’s mind that they should look the other way because of the occasion and, even worse, the timing of the incident.

Dublin might get another final

I’m sure the organizers behind the “Dublin Arena” Europa League event were banking on a more high profile team to make the game, preferably Liverpool or Manchester City. Instead they were stuck with Porto and Braga, who sent some of their tickets back to Dublin in the post.

But apart from attendance numbers, which was just over 45,000, I was very impressed with the part the Aviva Stadium had to play in the whole occasion. The pre-match display was very cool. The pitch might have seemed a little sticky at times, but it really felt like a proper football stadium. With the beating of the drums and the chants from each group of fans, it created a fantastic atmosphere within the ground and that relayed itself onto our TV screens.

As well as being easily accessible, I don’t think UEFA will have too many concerns if they want Dublin to host another final in the future.

The Author

Kevin Coleman

Founder and co-editor of Back Page Football and current host of our 'Three At The Back' weekly podcast.

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