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Sevilla extends its Europa League empire

Updated: 2023-06-02 09:25
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Sevilla midfielder Ivan Rakitic allows fans to touch the Europa League trophy on Wednesday. REUTERS

Spanish side continues its remarkable recent domination of competition with seventh title

BUDAPEST, Hungary — Five months after scoring the winning penalty in the World Cup final, Gonzalo Montiel converted the clinching spot-kick for Sevilla in the Europa League final on Wednesday to beat Jose Mourinho's Roma.

It earned Sevilla a seventh title in the competition.

The Argentina international sent Roma goalkeeper Rui Patricio the wrong way with his retaken penalty to seal a 4-1 win in the shootout after the match finished 1-1 after extra time in Budapest, where Mourinho was aiming to maintain his record of having never lost a final in European competitions.

"I've won five finals and I lost this one, but I'm coming back home proud again," Mourinho told Sky Sport Italia. "The boys gave everything."

Gianluca Mancini and Roger Ibanez failed to convert for Roma from the spot against Sevilla goalkeeper Yassine Bounou. Montiel missed his first attempt but had another chance after Patricio was adjudged to have come off his line.

Sevilla has still never lost a final it has contested in the Europa League or its precursor, the UEFA Cup — the team also won the competition in 2006, '07, '14, '15, '16 and '20 — and secured a place in next season's Champions League.

At one stage close to the relegation zone in the Spanish league and already eliminated from the Champions League, it had looked like a season to forget for Sevilla. But clearly it was not over yet.

A new coach, Jose Luis Mendilibar, came in and things turned around quickly.

"I'm happy to be here, to have won for the club, which was having a hard time when we got here," Mendilibar said. "We have done something good that can have repercussions for the good of the club."

Before the final, Mourinho actually had more European title wins than Mendilibar had total games managed in those same competitions. The 62-year-old Mendilibar's career is peaking since joining Sevilla just two months ago.

As Sevilla players celebrated on the field, Mourinho kept his calm and congratulated the Spanish club on the victory.

"We lost a game but not dignity. I've never gone home prouder than today," Mourinho said. "Great match, great final. Intense, vibrant."

After receiving his runner-up medal, Mourinho took it off and gave it to a young fan.

Paulo Dybala had put Roma ahead in the 35th minute at Puskas Arena in the Hungarian capital. Mancini sent a through-ball for Dybala, who netted past Bounou with a low left-foot shot. The Argentina forward had recovered from an ankle injury in time to be declared fit for the final.

It was Dybala's fifth goal of the Europa League, and 17th overall this season.

Sevilla was only slowly getting into the match but Ivan Rakitic came close to equalizing in first-half stoppage time with a low drive from 20 meters out that bounced off the post.

Mendilibar sent on midfielder Suso and forward Erik Lamela, a former Roma player, as substitutes at the start of the second half to rejuvenate his team.

Sevilla equalized through Mancini's own-goal 10 minutes into the second half when he was under pressure from Youssef En-Nesyri. Captain Jesus Navas set up the goal with a cross from the right.

Navas, a 37-year-old veteran, was on the team that won Sevilla's first Europa League title in 2006.

"When they scored against us, you think that it will be very difficult to score against them," Mendilibar said. "The equalizer came quickly in the second half and gave us the strength to continue in the fight to win the game."

Substitute Andrea Belotti failed to beat Bounou in a one-on-one following Lorenzo Pellegrini's freekick seven minutes from time. Suso had a long-distance shot saved by Patricio in the dying seconds.

Sevilla held the upper hand in extra time but didn't create a clear scoring chance, and Roma defender Chris Smalling headed the ball onto the crossbar at the end.

Replacing former Argentina coach Jorge Sampaoli in March, Mendilibar became Sevilla's third coach this season with the team just two points clear of the La Liga relegation zone. His lineup has lost only two of 11 league games since then and is now one point off seventh place going into the final round this weekend.

Agencies via Xinhua

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