Sevilla won a sixth Europa League title in the last 14 years after they beat Inter Milan 3-2 in the final at the RheinEnergieSTADION in Cologne on Friday night.
Inter got off to a fantastic start with Romelu Lukaku converting a penalty, which he won himself, in the fifth minute, to give the Serie A giants an early lead.
But Sevilla hit back soon with Luuk de Jong equalising in the 12th minute and the Dutchman gave the Spanish side the lead just after the half-hour mark.
Diego Godin equalised for Inter Milan with a 35th-minute header from a set-piece and the teams went into half-time level at 2-2.
But Sevilla eventually scored the winner when Diego Carlos’ acrobatic overhead kick was inadvertently turned into his own goal by Inter striker Lukaku in the 74th minute.
The Belgian earned the dubious honour of becoming the first player to score in box boxes in a one-legged European final.
#1 Diego Carlos could have seen a red card again but he didn’t
Diego Carlos played a massive role in Sevilla scoring the winner in the second half but there were questions on whether he should have been on the pitch at all. For the second game in a row, the Sevilla defender was lucky to escape a sending off.
In the semi-final against Manchester United he was not booked for his challenge on Marcus Rashford and was later yellow carded for another cynical tackle on Anthony Martial. Sevilla should have been down to ten men in the semi-final and it could have been the same in the final.
He was booked for taking down Romelu Lukaku inside the penalty box in the first few minutes of the game. But it could have been easily defined as the Brazilian denying the Belgian a clear goalscoring opportunity.
Lukaku was through on goal and was likely to have a shot at the Sevilla goal had he not been brought down by Carlos.
The Brazilian could have (and should have) been booked for conceding the free-kick that led to Diego Godin’s goal. Sevilla and Carlos had luck on their side in both the semi-final and the final.
#2 Romelu Lukaku was off-colour
Romelu Lukaku absolutely dominated Diego Carlos in the opening exchanges and won and converted the penalty to give the lead to Inter Milan. It was his 34th goal of the season but for the rest of the game, he was more or less muted.
The Belgian struggled to impose himself after the first few minutes and the worst facets of his game came to the fore. He failed to provide Inter Milan with an outlet upfront and struggled to create many opportunities. The forward was not helped by a pedestrian performance by the Inter Milan midfield.
Lukaku was also unlucky to play the defining role in helping Sevilla scored the winner. Carlos’ overhead kick was likely going wide off the Inter goal but the Belgian’s stab at it got it on target and Sami Handanovic helpless between the Nerazzurri sticks.
#3 Diego Godin – the unluckiest man in European finals
The 34-year-old centre-back must be thinking what would take for him to be on the winning side in a European final.
Diego Godin scored for Atletico Madrid in the Champions League and was minutes away from winning it before Sergio Ramos equalised for Real Madrid.
Los Blancos annihilated their Madrid rivals in extra time to win the trophy. Godin was again on losing side in the Champions League final of 2016 with Real Madrid beating Atletico Madrid in a penalty shootout.
The Uruguayan kept Inter Milan in the hunt for the Europa League last night with his equaliser in the first half. But was again on the losing side at the RheinEnergieSTADION and missed another opportunity to win a European trophy.
#4 Antonio Conte’s future at Inter Milan remains uncertain
Finishing one point behind champions Juventus and reaching the final of the Europa League could be seen a good platform for Inter Milan going into next season. Sadly, Antonio Conte doesn’t see it that way.
The Italian’s relationship with the Inter hierarchy has been strained since he attacked the club for not protecting his players at the end of the Serie A campaign. Conte raged about his dissatisfaction with the club and while things cooled down, the Italian put more focus on his future after last night’s final.
Conte refused to guarantee that he would be Inter Milan manager next season and there are suggestions that the Inter hierarchy are getting tired of Conte’s constant complaints.
They do not have the funds to carry out the total revolution the manager wants and their relationship has been put under more pressure.
For any given manager, he was more or less guaranteed to start the season at Inter Milan but not Antonio Conte. He walked out of Juventus just two days into their pre-season preparation in 2014. There are no certainties he will not do the same at the San Siro. Can any club satisfy Conte?
#5 Sevilla are the team to beat in the Europa League
Death, taxes and Sevilla winning the Europa League seem to be the only guarantees in life. Julen Lopetegui became another Sevilla manager to add the Europa League to his CV.
Sevilla should have been out in the semi-finals but Manchester United somehow conspired to miss a host of chances and Luuk de Jong scored the winner to take them to the final.
Inter Milan made a great start in the final and scored an early goal. But Sevilla again fought back and refused to go away against a Nerazzurri side who finished just a point behind Serie A champions Juventus. There is a sense of inevitability about the Spanish side in the Europa League.
It was also the reemergence of Lopetegui as a manager of stature. Getting sacked by Spain and Real Madrid within a span of four months in 2018 was a career-low. But the Spaniard has rebuilt his reputation at Sevilla and now has the Europa League to show for his efforts.
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