Baku, May 28. AZERTAC
Sevilla FC wrote their own piece of history on Wednesday with a 3-2 final defeat of FC Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk that earned them a record fourth UEFA Cup/UEFA Europa League crown, according to uefa.com
Holders Sevilla looked set to stay level with Liverpool FC, Juventus and FC Internazionale Milano on three wins when Nikola Kalinić gave Dnipro an early lead. The Liga side were soon in front themselves, only to be pegged back just before the interval. Carlos Bacca then showed his clinical prowess, though, to land his team a memorable triumph.
It was perhaps harder than anticipated for the Andalusians. Myron Markevych's men were, according to most observers, meant to come here to stifle Sevilla, to squeeze the life out of them and then pounce. Any such theories expired after seven minutes when Kalinić flicked on a long ball forward and then met Matheus's precise first-time cross with an emphatic header.
Sevilla's fans had unfurled a pre-match banner reading 'TRUE LOVE' but never got much of a Warsaw honeymoon to enjoy. However, the objects of their affection are not the sort to take a backward step and responded the only way they know how: by pouring forward. José Antonio Reyes, the most experienced European campaigner on show with 91 UEFA club competition games to his name, went close, but this was Grzegorz Krychowiak's time. Bacca deftly laid on the Poland midfielder from a corner and he finished adroitly despite a slight touch from goalkeeper Denys Boyko.
The relationship between club and Sevillistas appeared to be more solid than ever when Bacca took one touch to latch onto Reyes's defence-splitting pass and round Boyko, and another to stroke into the unguarded net. Dnipro somehow responded, though, and were level again on the stroke of half-time, Ruslan Rotan – moments after Yevhen Konoplyanka had been denied brilliantly by Sergio Rico – delicately curling his free-kick beyond the reach of the new Spain call-up. A relentless, enthralling first 45 minutes.
Reyes was one of the undoubted stars of that opening period and could count himself unfortunate to be taken off less than an hour in. The introduction of Coke, however, afforded Unai Emery more of a counter to the menacing Konoplyanka, Dnipro's real game-changer. Sevilla nearly had a more unlikely match winner of their own midway through the second half, Stéphane Mbia heading over when picked out from another troublesome corner.
Bacca is somewhat more accustomed to applying the finishing touch in these situations and needed no second invitation to do precisely that with a calm yet instinctive strike after Vitolo – brushing off a series of scruffy ricochets in midfield – played him in with a cute outside-of-the-boot pass.
Though Boyko later deprived Bacca of the first UEFA Europa League final hat-trick, Sevilla's No9 received a fitting reception when taken off towards full time – true love indeed.
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