Sevilla have beaten Ukrainian side FC Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk 3-2 to win the UEFA Europa League for the second successive year, securing a place in next season’s Champions League as a result.
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In an incredibly entertaining final, Dnipro looked like they were set to defy the odds, not for the first time this season, by taking an early lead through Nikola Kalinic.
Whilst the plaudits will quite rightly go to the plucky Ukranian minnows, the defending from Sevilla was hardly great with a massive gap left between the left full-back and the centre of the Spanish side’s defence.
Sevilla missed a number of chances trying to force their way back into the match.
But after a scramble in the box, holding midfielder Grzegorz Krychowiak pounced on a loose ball and managed to squeeze it just enough to the left of Denys Boyko, who could only palm it into his own net.
And just three minutes later Sevilla were in the lead, one-time Arsenal man Jose Antonio Reyes threaded a cute through ball between a static Dnipro midfield and defence which was rewarded with a perfectly timed run by Carlos Bacca. The forward needed no second opportunity and rounded Boyko to hand the Spaniards the lead.
There’s still a sense of what could have been with Reyes’ career and if he had just got his head right, we might have perhaps seen something of that deliciousness in the red and white of Arsenal on a more regular basis.
Just two minutes before half-time a quite stunning free-kick from Ruslan Rotan managed to tie the game up once more.
A worthy strike for what was a glorious final of the Europa League so far – though questions might have to be asked of Sevilla’s wall and of the goalkeeping, given the quite weak attempt he made to get across his line.
At least it set us up for a tantalising second half.
After some to-ing and fro-ing with no real clear cut chances, Sevilla retook a lead with a second from Colombian predator Bacca, who again timed his run to perfection before rippling the back of the net and putting Sevilla agonisingly close to European glory.
There was concern late on that reduced the stadium to silence when Dnipro defender Matheus collapsed under no challenge. There didn’t seem to be too much panic among the medics treating him, so hopefully it was nothing threatening.
Matheus was involved with a clash of heads earlier on in the game and it was suggested that it could have been a delayed concussion.
With an enforced ten-men, Dnipro were unable to mount a damaging late challenge and Sevilla wound down the clock to win the Europa League for a second successive year, becoming the first side to get into next season’s Champions League by winning the cup.