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 goal. It was an ironic ending, considering Lukaku had opened the scoring five minutes in on a penalty conceded by Diego Carlos.
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 and converting it after three minute to give Inter the lead.
By Tunde Orebiyi