Sevilla FC defeated Internazionale (Inter Milan) 3-2 in a dramatic match in Cologne on Friday night to win a sixth Europa League title and hold their perfect record in the competition’s final.
Soon after the start, Romelu Lukaku opened the scoring from the penalty spot, beating Seville keeper Bono after Diego Carlos pulled him down in the box to give Inter the early lead.
The benefit was short-lived however, as the bullet header from Luuk de Jong in the 12th minute brought Sevilla level only for the Netherlands international to head home from a free kick from Ever Banega a little over 20 minutes later to leave Inter trailing 2-1.
The pattern of goals via headers persisted, but this time when Diego Godin met a Marcelo Brozovic cross from a free kick at the back post and evened the score, it was Inter who were the beneficiaries.
A first half of rip-roaring ended with Lucas Ocampos clipping the bar with a header as both sides progressed in intense end-to – end play and returned to the locker room in a 2-2 draw at half-time.
The rate of scoring slowed in the second half, and Lukaku saw a golden chance to bring Inter out in control with a 65th minute breakaway thwarted by an onrushing Bono to hold the score even.
Carlos then went from villain to hero in the 74th minute when his overhead kick after a set piece took a deflection off Lukaku and ended up in the rear of the net to give Seville a 3-2 lead.
“We’ve been battling all season and resolving the problems we’ve encountered,” said Seville right-back Jesus Navas, who won his third Europa League with Seville — 14 years after his first.
During the final minutes, Inter poured it on with boss Antonio Conte putting Christian Eriksen, Alexis Sanchez and Victor Moses during search of an equaliser that has never come.
The loss prolonged Inter’s waiting for a first European trophy since Jose Mourinho led the Italian club to the title of the 2010 Champions League. In four of the last seven seasons, Seville won the Europa League.
“In the final part of the game, I think Seville was more exhausted than us but they had this chance, the ball was deflected by the foot of Romelu Lukaku and went in. It’s happening,” said goalkeeper Samir Handanovic.
To Seville coach Julen Lopetegui, who won his first trophy as senior coach after a torrid period that saw him sacked by Spain and Real Madrid, it was a happy ending of the season.
“It’s a feeling of immense happiness that you have to know how to cope with difficult moments and overcome them,” Lopetegui said.
“I am so thankful to our athletes for the hard work they’ve done. Our anthem says we ‘re never giving up and we’ve proved that again tonight.”
Conte was coy on the Italian side in the other dugout about his future, saying he would take a few days off before speaking with the management of the club, but he did suggest that he might leave.
“In a serene way we’ll strive to prepare Inter’s future with or without me, we’ll see … there’s no animosity, there could be different opinions and there’ll be assessments.”
Since taking over the reins in 2019, the sometimes furious outbursts of the head coach have seen him clash with senior executives at Inter.
“We ‘re trying to explain the situation without rancour, because I’ll always be thankful for getting the opportunity to spend a wonderful year at Inter, but on the other hand it was also really hard.”