Yevhen Seleznyov guided Dnipro through to the club’s first European final as he scored the only goal of the game in their 1-0 UEFA Europa League semi-final second-leg win over Napoli.
Striker Seleznyov was the hero of the first leg as a substitute last week, netting an 80th-minute equaliser in a 1-1 draw at the Stadio San Paolo.
Rewarded for that goal by Myron Markevych with a start at the Olympic Stadium in Kiev, Seleznyov duly repaid the faith shown in him by his coach.
Rafael Benitez’s Napoli had dominated proceedings in the first half but found Dnipro goalkeeper Denys Boyko in fine form.
And the Serie A club were made to pay for not taking advantage of their superiority when Seleznyov broke the deadlock with a 58th-minute header.
Napoli upped the pressure in search of a leveller that would have forced extra-time. However, their efforts proved fruitless as the Ukrainian side stood firm to set up a final with holders Sevilla in Warsaw on May 27.
Gonzalo Higuain went close to opening the scoring after just eight minutes, but saw his effort kept out by a fine one-on-one save from Boyko, who displayed more impressive reflexes to deny the Napoli striker for a second time in the 28th minute.
Higuain met Faouzi Ghoulam’s left-wing cross with a flicked near-post header, only to see Boyko dive brilliantly to his left and tip the ball behind.
It took 34 minutes for Dnipro to test Mariano Andujar at the other end. The Napoli goalkeeper was finally called into action to turn Seleznyov’s curling effort round the post.
Dnipro emerged from the interval with a renewed vigour and Valeriy Luchkevych fired an effort narrowly wide four minutes into the second half following a quick counter from Seleznyov.
Benitez threw on captain Marek Hamsik in the 55th minute for his 50th UEFA competition appearance but, just three minutes later, Seleznyov made the telling impact.
Yevhen Konoplyanka floated a delivery from the left into the near post and Seleznyov held off the attentions of Miguel Britos to direct a well-placed header beyond Andujar.
Dnipro adopted a more defensive approach after the goal as they sought to protect the slim advantage and survived a scare 13 minutes from time, Higuain seeing a chipped effort cleared off the line by Douglas following a corner, while Yevhen Cheberyachko was fortunate to see a prod towards his own goal safely gloved by Boyko.
Matheus hit the bar with a header at the other end and, for all Napoli’s endeavour, the visitors could not find a way through, with Benitez’s hopes of winning the competition for a third time coming to an end.
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