Tuesday, September 28
03:21 AM

SEVILLA LIFT SIXTH EUROPA LEAGUE TITLE

22 Aug 2020

Spanish club edged past Inter Milan to continue their dominance in the tournament with a record sixth crown

Sevilla claimed the Europa League for a record sixth time when they beat Inter Milan 3-2 victory over Inter Milan a thrilling final in Cologne, Germany, on Friday

The drama started when Sevilla defender Diego Carlos fouled Romelu Lukaku for an Inter penalty – and ended when Lukaku deflected Carlos’ bicycle kick into his own net.

Lukaku gave the Italian side an early lead from the penalty spot for his 34th goal of the season, extending his record of scoring in consecutive Europa League games to 11.

Luuk de Jong scored two headers – from Jesus Navas and Ever Banega crosses – to put Sevilla into the lead in the 12th and 33rd minutes.

Inter were level when Diego Godin nodded in to make it 2-2 in the 35th minute.

The game could not continue at that high tempo, but with extra-time on the cards, there was a twist to come.

Carlos flew into the air to meet a high ball with an overhead kick which was going wide until Lukaku stuck out a leg and diverted it past his own goalkeeper in the 74th minute.

It was a first trophy in the managerial career of Sevilla boss Julen Lopetegui, whose side are unbeaten since February, a run of 21 games.

“This is a magnificent club,” said the former Spain and Real Madrid boss. “I hope all the fans can celebrate it but with caution.

“This squad are great. They believe in it, what they work on and what they transmit. Even if we hadn’t won I’d still love these guys, but today we take home the prize. We always believed.”

The last nine Europa Leagues all have been won by Spanish or English teams – Sevilla have won four, Chelsea two and Atletico Madrid and Manchester United one each. The last Italian team to win were Parma in 1999.

Sevilla’s excellent record of never losing a UEFA Cup or Europa League final continues – six finals, six victories.

But this was a new Sevilla team – with barely anybody left since their three wins in a row from 2014 to 2016.

Lopetegui took over last summer and built a new-look team. Nine of the starting XI in Cologne were in their first season at the club.

They were cheered on by two fans, with Sevilla giving two of their 25 tickets for officials to supporters with membership numbers 2108 and 2020 (to make the date of this game).

Carlos looked as if he was going to the villain of the run as he lost Lukaku and then fouled the Belgian striker on the corner of the box after five minutes.

That was the third Europa League game in a row that he conceded a spot-kick, doing the same in wins over Wolves and Manchester United in the previous two rounds.

But their unlikely hero was De Jong, a man who had scored only eight goals since joining last summer – and had a goalless spell with Newcastle in 2014.

His first header was a diving one from a Navas cross and his second was a wonderful looping effort into the top corner from Banega’s free-kick.

Carlos’ redemption was complete when his audacious effort led to Lukaku’s own goal.

Former Chelsea boss Antonio Conte – who has brought in five English Premier League players since taking over last summer – led Inter Milan to second place in Serie A this season.

That was their best finish since 2010-11, which was also the last time they won a trophy – the Coppa Italia.

Conte’s future is in doubt after disagreements with the club’s owners. A trophy would have helped.

“We’ll take a few days off and then meet [with the president] with cool heads,” he said.

“I don’t have many regrets now, my players gave really everything they had against a team used to playing these kind of games.

“Many young players earned a great dose of valuable experience this season. They can continue on this path with great confidence.”

 

(With inputs from BBC Sport)

© 2021 Apex Press and Publishing. All Rights Reserved.