In a final that lasted over three hours in Budapest, Sevilla beat Roma on penalties to lift the Europa League for the seventh time. The game started slowly, with Roma in total control. Sevilla’s midfield was completely suffocated and overrun, and after 35 minutes, Paulo Dybala opened the scoring following a beautiful pass from Gianluca Mancini.
In the second half, Sevilla started to boss the game and they scored the equaliser in the 55th minute, when Jesús Navas put in a lovely cross and Mancini deflected the ball into his own net. This was particularly impressive as no player had scored in a European final against a José Mourinho team since Henrik Larsson for Celtic in 2003.
The remainder of normal time was a dull affair, filled with yellow cards and touchline antics from Mourinho and his staff. Sevilla were given a penalty in the 76th minute, but following a VAR check, it was overturned. Crucially however, Mourinho decided to take off Tammy Abraham and Dybala before the end of 90 minutes, and Lorenzo Pellegrini in extra time, decisions which had a huge impact on the result of the game. Extra time was also fairly eventless, and the game went to penalties.
Mourinho had taken off three of his best penalty-takers, and Nemanja Matic also had to come off in the 120th minute due to injury. This proved vital as Roma’s first three penalty-takers were two centre-backs and a central defensive midfielder. Roma missed their second and third penalty, after which it was up to Gonzalo Montiel to step up for Sevilla and win them the trophy.
Montiel scored the winning penalty for Argentina in the World Cup final in December, and is certainly used to pressure shootouts. The Argentine full-back took his penalty and missed, but following an encroachment, it was retaken. He made no mistake the second time around to make Sevilla Europa League champions for the seventh time.
Japtej Ghura | GSFN