Sevilla in seventh heaven with Europa League triumph over Roma


Sevilla 1-1 AS Roma AET (Sevilla win 4-1 on penalties)

Sevilla will bring Europa League trophy back to Spain after the final in Budapest ended 1-1 after extra time, with Gonzalo Montiel the hero for Sevilla as his penalty ensured a 4-1 victory in the shootout over Roma and Sevilla’s seventh triumph in the competition.

Paulo Dybala put Roma ahead just after the half hour mark, slotting past Bono after a swift Giallorossi break. But after a strong start to the second half, Sevilla forced Gianluca Mancini into a mistake and he put the ball past his own goalkeeper to level the score.

After Sevilla’s equaliser, there was a dearth of chances for both sides and even with 30 minutes of extra time, nothing could separate the Europa League finalists requiring a penalty shootout to determine the victor.

Bono saved one in the shootout, and Ibanez put another of Roma’s onto the post, before Montiel scored the winner after it had to be retaken. Incidentally, Montiel also scored Argentina’s winning spot kick in the World Cup last December.

The first of this year’s European finals threw up a mouth-watering bout between two sides with plenty of reasons to believe they could lift the 2023 Europa League. Sevilla are the kings of this competition, but their opponents, Roma, coached by Jose Mourinho, arguably the coaching king of European competitions.

When the Italian side won the 2022 Conference League, Mourinho became the first coach to have won all three of UEFA’s club competitions and he had previously won the Europa League twice.

Paulo Dybala celebrates after opening the scoring for Roma.

On the pitch, Roma started stronger, enjoying the better chances and limiting Sevilla to only brief forays towards their goal.

Inside the first 15 minutes, Leonardo Spinazzola drew a strong if routine save out of Bono in the Sevilla goal in what was the best chance before the opening goal.

The Giallorossi got the breakthrough in the 34th minute when Gianluca Mancini took advantage of some uncertainty in midfield, stepping forward and playing a perfect pass for Paulo Dybala who let it run onto his left side and struck it past Bono. Advantage Roma and no less than they deserved.

The goal injected some urgency into Sevilla, but Roma remained on top and with their confidence boosted. Dybala, who had been an injury doubt before the game, lit up and went on a mazy run into the penalty box, but the attack fizzled out when Lorenzo Pellegrini was correctly booked for simulation in the area.

Seconds before the half-time whistle, Ivan Rakitic was denied a stunning goal by the post, with Rui Patricio seemingly beaten.

The Croatian struck the ball cleanly with his left and it could easily have struck the Portuguese goalkeeper’s back and rebounded into the net, but it was to remain 1-0 Roma at the break.

Mancini watches as the ball heads into his own net.

Ten minutes after the restart, Sevilla had levelled the game, which turned the volume inside the stadium up several notches.

An inviting cross from the veteran Jesus Navas was turned into his own net by Gianluca Mancini as the Spanish side got their reward for an increasing amount of pressure.

Roma rallied after conceding, though, and could have gone ahead just over ten minutes later but Sevilla survived what became a goalmouth scrap following a set piece. Shortly afterwards, Lucas Ocampos headed over as the game began to open up at both ends.

In the 76th minute there was great drama as referee Anthony Taylor pointed to the spot after Ocampos went down under a challenge from Mancini. Roma players instantly surrounded the ref in protest and were lucky that none were booked for their protests.

After a VAR review, however, Taylor correctly judged that Mancini had got the ball first and overturned the penalty.

Minutes later, Roma were screaming for a penalty at the other end for handball but a VAR check informed the referee that there was nothing to check – the player’s arm was in a natural position and he gained no advantage – and the correct call was made again.

Gonzalo Montiel celebrates after scoring the winning penalty.

As the game entered the closing stages, both teams pushed for a goal to win it in normal time. Roma sub Andrea Belotti saw his close-range volley deflected wide by the outstretched palm of Bono.

Sevilla were on top in the final minutes, but a Youssef En-Nesyri header which went tamely over was about as close as they came to a winner until Fernando dragged a shot wide in the dying seconds after a spell of good attacking intent.

Most of their success came down the right, with Navas, Ocampos and Suso combining effectively on several occasions.

With the score tied at 1-1 after an intense and even 90 minutes, the 2023 Europa League final headed for extra time.

Going into 30 minutes of extra time, neither side were able to make any attacking inroads as fatigue set in and the match went to penalties.

Mancini had his spot kick saved by the legs of Bono, before Ibanez hit the post. Montiel then scored at the second time of asking to ensure the Europa League returned to Seville.

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