Sevilla became the first side to win European football’s second-tier competition on four occasions with a pulsating 3-2 victory over Dnipro in Wednesday’s UEFA Europa League final.
The Andalusian club lifted the trophy in 2006 and 2007 – under its former guise as the UEFA Cup – and they have now made it back-to-back crowns for a second time, as Carlos Bacca scored twice to prove the hero.
Unai Emery’s side won the competition last season in a penalty shootout following a nervy 0-0 draw with Benfica, but this encounter proved a much more entertaining affair.
Dnipro, competing in their first European final, took an early lead through Nikola Kalinic, but they then found themselves behind when Sevilla struck twice in three minutes.
First, Grzegorz Krychowiak fired home after Dnipro had failed to deal with a ball into the box, and then Bacca produced a composed finish.
The Ukrainian side battled to level before the break, as captain Ruslan Rotan converted a free-kick.
However, it was Bacca who had the final say, latching onto Vitolo’s clever pass to rifle home with 17 minutes left to play and ensuring Sevilla claimed a piece of history – and a spot in next season’s UEFA Champions League.
Sevilla made a bright start, but it was Dnipro who took the lead through Kalinic in the seventh minute.
After flicking the ball onto Matheus, the Croatian striker made his way into the box and met his team-mate’s perfect cross with a powerful downward header from eight yards.
Emery’s men responded well to that early setback, with captain Jose Antonio Reyes firing a shot narrowly wide before Krychowiak saw his header from Ever Banega’s corner clawed away by Dnipro goalkeeper Denys Boyko.
The Polish midfielder was not to be denied for long, though, as, in the 28th minute, he controlled Bacca’s cushioned lay-off and fired the ball low into the right-hand corner.
Three minutes later, the holders were in front.
Reyes this time produced a superb defence-splitting pass and Bacca sprung the offside trap, before rounding Boyko to slot home.
As the free-flowing action continued, Sevilla goalkeeper Sergio Rico produced a stunning fingertip save to keep out Yevhen Konoplyanka’s rasping drive from distance, and Aleix Vidal went close with a similarly powerful drive at the other end.
Just as it seemed Sevilla would reach half-time with the lead, Rotan stepped up and curled an excellent free-kick beyond Rico into the top corner from 25 yards.
In a less eventful second period, the key moment arrived in the 73rd minute.
Vitolo latched onto a loose ball just outside the area and produced a sublime first-time pass with the outside of his right foot, which ran perfectly into Bacca’s path.
The Colombian made no mistake with a low left-footed finish.
Bacca – who celebrated his winner by unfurling his nation’s flag – could have sealed a perfect hat-trick six minutes later, but Boyko spread himself well to keep out the striker’s header.
There was a moment of concern in the final moments of the match as Matheus collapsed off the ball, seemingly following a clash of heads with Benoit Tremoulinas, but the Dnipro man appeared to be conscious as he left the field on a stretcher.
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