Sevilla Pip Benfica to Europa League Title

Spanish club Sevilla have condemned Benfica to a second successive year of heartbreak in the Europa League after beating the Portuguese champions 4-2 on penalties in the final played at Turin’s Stadio Olimpico.

On the night, clear-cut chances were scarce from both teams in the first half until the last minute of the half when Sevilla goalkeeper Beto pulled off a double save to ensure the score at half time was goalless.

The second half however began in blistering pace, with Benfica’s Lima seeing an effort cleared off the line four minutes in, with teammate Rodrigo’s weak effort on the rebound easily dealt with by the Sevilla defence.

Former Arsenal striker Jose Antonio Reyes was then put through on goal at the other by Ivan Rakitic three minutes later but was denied a shot on goal by a last ditch Luisao tackle.

After then, it was Benfica that dominated play but the Portuguese side were unable to find the back of the net as the match went into extra-time goalless.

Colombian striker Carlos Bacca then squandered a glorious one-on-one chance for Sevilla in first half of extra-time, before substitute Kevin Gameiro shot an effort into the side-netting as the match ended goalless after 120 minutes.

And after scoring the first, Benfica would go on to miss their second and third spot kicks, while Sevilla scored all four of theirs, with French striker Gameiro scoring the title-winning fourth penalty for Sevilla.

It is the third time the Andalucian outfit have won the Europa League, having won in 2006 before beating fellow Spaniards Espanyol in the final of the 2007 edition, via penalties on that occasion.

For Benfica, the loss is the eighth European cup final they have lost since 1962, when, after being refused a payrise by the club following a second successive European Cup win, then coach Béla Guttmann had infamously stated that Benfica wouldn’t win another European cup for a 100 years after unless he was paid what he was due.

Sevilla’s win guarantees an all-Spanish European Super Cup final, with Spanish league leaders Atletico Madrid set to face city rivals and nine-time European champions Real Madrid in the Champions League final next Saturday in the Portuguese city of Lisbon.

Meanwhile from next season, the winner of competition will qualify for the following season’s UEFA Champions League in an effort by UEFA to make the Europa League more enticing for participating clubs.