Sevilla Wins Sixth Europa League Title, Edges Inter in Wild Final


There's just something about Sevilla and the UEFA Europa League.

Sevilla won its record sixth Europa League title, edging Inter Milan, 3-2, in a wild final in Cologne, Germany on Friday.

Inter and Sevilla traded two goals apiece in a breakneck first half, with Romelu Lukaku's penalty, Luuk de Jong's double and Diego Godin's header making it 2-2 after just 35 minutes. Sevilla pulled in front in the 74th, with Lukaku redirecting Diego Carlos's overhead kick into his own net for the decisive own goal. It was an ironic ending, considering Lukaku had opened the scoring five minutes in on a penalty conceded by Diego Carlos–one for which the defender arguably should have been sent off.

Neither Inter nor Sevilla had to worry about needing to win to secure a place in next season's Champions League after both took care of that through their domestic league finishes (Inter second in Serie A, Sevilla fourth in La Liga).

Inter, which won the UEFA Cup (the competition's previous incarnation) in 1991, 1994 and 1998, could have inched closer to Sevilla's total with a victory on Friday. Led by Lukaku, who has now scored in a record 11 straight Europa League contests, and Lautaro Martinez, Inter had been 11-1-5 since resuming play.

Sevilla, however, entered unbeaten since it resumed play, going 9-0-5 in all competitions and getting it done defensively. Julen Lopetegui's side conceded just six goals in those 14 matches, and it had shut out five straight opponents prior to Bruno Fernandes's penalty kick for Manchester United in the semifinals.

Nevertheless, Inter started out on the front foot, and Lukaku didn't take long to make an impact, drawing the penalty after he was dragged down by a hapless Diego Carlos and converting it after five minutes to give Inter the lead.

Sevilla pulled even soon after on a fantastic diving header from Luuk de Jong. Jesus Navas rifled in a cross from the right, and the Dutch forward obliged, beating Samir Handanovic to make it 1-1.

Inter had a shout for second penalty in the 16th minute, when Diego Carlos appeared to extend his arm to block a ball in the Sevilla box. It went unwhistled, though, despite Inter players pleading for the call.

De Jong's second goal of the day gave Sevilla the lead, and it came on another header. Ever Banega's free kick to the left side of the box picked out De Jong, who looped his header into the far netting to make it 2-1 in the 33rd minute.

The lead lasted for a little more than two minutes. Diego Godin, who also scored for Atletico Madrid in the 2014 Champions League final, headed in from an Inter free kick from Marcelo Brozovic on the other end, with the Uruguayan veteran bringing the match level at 2-2 in the 35th minute.

The pace was slightly more subdued after halftime, with the chances a bit less plentiful. Ashley Young looked to give Inter the lead in sensational fashion in the 58th minute, but his curling shot from long range didn't have enough dip and flew just over the crossbar.

Inter had a more straightforward chance in the 65th minute. Lukaku got in behind the back line and was free in on goal, but Bono raced off his line to cut off the angle and made a sliding save to deny Lukaku his second and Inter the lead.

Inter paid the price for its wastefulness, as Sevilla took the lead in the 74th minute. Diego Carlos, the early villain, wound up in a heroic role, delivering a stunning overhead kick off a failed free-kick clearance that was redirected in by Lukaku at the post to give Sevilla the 3-2 lead.

Inter had an opportunity to pull even after a scramble in the box, with Alexis Sanchez getting a slight touch in the 81st minute, only to have his trickling shot cleared off the line.


Here were the lineups for both teams:

Both sides will enjoy an offseason break ahead of the new season. La Liga is slated to begin Sept. 12, while Serie A will begin a week later, on Sept. 19.