Superstitious football fans are claiming Dimitri Payet cursed himself and Marseille in the Europa League final after the France star committed a cardinal pre-game sin.
Striker Antoine Griezmann punished sloppy Marseille with two expertly-taken goals as Atletico Madrid won the Europa League for the third time with a resounding 3-0 victory in Wednesday’s (Thursday AEST) final.
However, it was Payet’s decision to touch the trophy before kick-off that many supporters believe sealed Marseille and Payet’s fate.
It’s a widely held belief in football circles that touching the silverware on display before the match is rotten luck and so it turned out for the France star.
Not only did Payet’s side go on to lose 3-0 in the final, the France star limped off with a leg injury in the first half that puts his World Cup hopes in serious doubt.
While that will be music to the ears of Socceroos fans, it’s a hammer blow for Payet, considering the France squad is announced tomorrow.
Social media lit up with reaction to the trophy incident, with fans adamant Payet brought about his own demise.
Never touch the trophy – Payet got cursed pic.twitter.com/avwq20edum
— AidaN (@AidanMUFC_) May 16, 2018
As much as I'm against superstition and all that, this particular thing has a really uncanny record
— reddevil92 (@khedslosang) May 16, 2018
The first rule in football when playing in a final:
Do not Touch the Trophy
Second rule in football when playing in a final.
— Palestine (@WestHamOS) May 16, 2018
— Lou Dog OG (@LouDogOG) May 16, 2018
“Payet’s injury obviously hurt us. He’s one of leaders, but we had to make do with it,” Marseille defender Bouna Sarr said.
“We conceded against the run of play and couldn’t get back into the game.”
Without Payet pulling the strings, Atletico was untroubled until striker Kostas Mitroglou’s towering header struck the post in the 81st minute.
Marseille lost its third straight European final after coming up short in the UEFA Cup final – as the tournament was formerly known – in 1999 and 2004.
Marseille had no answer to Griezmann’s mobility and finishing. Captain Gabi capped off the victory with a fine finish in the last minute after being set up by Koke.
“This is a reward for me after I left home aged 14, for all the work I have put in, the suffering,” Griezmann said. “There has been joy and sadness, but I am so happy and I hope to be able to live moments like this again.”
Griezmann pounced in the 21st minute, slotting coolly into the bottom left corner after being set up by midfielder Gabi’s pass.
Marseille’s woeful defending contributed, as midfielder Zambo Anguissa failed to control a needlessly casual pass out from goalkeeper Steve Mandanda and the loose ball bounced straight to Gabi.
Griezmann started and finished the move for his second, four minutes into the second half.
He athletically won a high ball in midfield and quickly swapped passes with Koke before gliding into the penalty area unchallenged and delicately clipping the ball over the onrushing Mandanda.
Moments after Griezmann’s opener, Marseille fans were given a warning over the public address system to stop letting off flares and firecrackers or the game would be stopped.
They carried on anyway, and so did the game, with sections of the stadium cloaked in thick pyrotechnic smoke.
The comfortable lead allowed Atletico to take off Griezmann in the final moments and give veteran forward Fernando Torres a sendoff.
34-year-old Torres, who is leaving Atletico at the end of the season, finally won a trophy with his beloved club.
He had a beaming grin on his face as he walked alone towards the Atletico supporters, holding the trophy aloft with one hand.