Sevilla returns to Europa League final, finishes off Fiorentina
FLORENCE, Italy (AP) — Defending champion Sevilla swatted aside Fiorentina 2-0 to reach the Europa League final 5-0 on aggregate on Thursday.
Carlos Bacca and Daniel Carrico effectively ended any hope Fiorentina had of pulling off an unlikely comeback, as they extended Sevilla's advantage before the half hour.
Josip Ilicic, who scored five goals in his past three Serie A appearances, missed the chance to net a consolation for Fiorentina from the penalty spot midway through the second half, after David Pizarro was tripped by Grzegorz Krychowiak.
Sevilla will meet Dnipro in the final after the Ukrainian club defeated Napoli 1-0 in Kiev, to go through 2-1 on aggregate.
It is Sevilla's fourth final in the past nine years.
The winner earns a spot in next season's Champions League.
Fiorentina needed a miracle to overturn a 3-0 deficit, and coach Vincenzo Montella surprisingly dropped Mario Gomez for Ilicic, and did not even bring the Germany striker off the bench.
Fiorentina was also without several players through injury, but started brightly and had chances to get back into the tie, notably when Gonzalo Rodriguez appeared certain to score with a header from point-blank range but Sevilla goalkeeper Sergio Rico pulled off a stunning save.
Sevilla took the lead in the 22nd minute when Ever Banega put a free kick into the box from out by the right touchline, and it went through a crowd of players before bouncing onto Bacca's midriff, and he flicked it into the roof of the net.
It was Bacca's 26th goal of the season.
Sevilla ended any residual doubts five minutes later when another free kick was hooked back into the center of the area by an unmarked Coke and, after a dreadful attempted clearance by Jose Maria Basanta, Daniel Carrico tapped it in.
Fiorentina didn't let its heads go down, and Ilicic, Mati Fernandez, and Mohamed Salah all went close before halftime.
Rico pulled off another great save shortly after the interval when he parried Salah's strike and then got back up to keep out Ilicic's follow-up with his ankle.
Fiorentina was not even able to score a consolation when Pizarro was felled by Krychowiak's clumsy challenge as Ilicic blazed his spot kick way over the bar.
Fiorentina has missed all but one of its penalties in the Italian league this season.