Sevilla claimed a record sixth Europa League triumph this century as Diego Carlos proved an unlikely hero in a thrilling 3-2 win over Inter in Cologne.
Romelu Lukaku gave Inter a fifth-minute lead from the penalty spot – Diego Carlos might have been sent off for bringing him down – but Sevilla’s semi-final hero Luuk de Jong overturned the deficit with a pair of fine first-half headers.
Diego Godin’s 35th-minute leveller had Inter swiftly back on terms and the Serie A side appeared to be in the ascendency during a more circumspect second half, until a stunning twist in the tale.
Diego Carlos had been tormented by Lukaku for most of the game but his overhead-kick when Ever Banega’s 74th-minute free-kick was partially cleared took a decisive touch off Inter’s top scorer and flew into the net.
Referee Danny Makkelie had an unenviable opening to his first European final, with Sevilla players asking for Danilo D’Ambrosio to be harshly sanctioned for an apparent elbow on Sergio Regulion before Diego Carlos clumsily brought down a rampaging Lukaku.
The former Manchester United striker demonstrated how at home he is on the big occasion with a stutter and a coolly slotted spot-kick beyond Yassine Bounou.
Sevilla were also quick to show their mettle, with De Jong heading home a 12th-minute equaliser from captain Jesus Navas’ excellent cross.
A thrilling end-to-end encounter continued to unfold – with the antics of both benches almost as watchable, as a frequently irate Inter boss Antonio Conte was booked.
Goals were exchanged within the space of two minutes after the half hour, with De Jong dispatching a sumptuous free-kick delivery from Banega – making his farewell Sevilla appearance – before Godin did likewise from Marcelo Brozovic’s set piece.
Samir Handanovic tipped over a Lucas Ocampos header – Banega again the dead-ball provider – in the final act of a riotous 45 minutes.
Diego Carlos partially made amends for his ragged first-half showing with a sliding block to thwart Roberto Gagliardini.
The centre-back was still unable to handle Lukaku, who streaked clear in the 65th minute but Bounou stood firm.
That gave Diego Carlos his spectacular shot at redemption to put Sevilla back in front before centre-back partner Jules Kounde scrambled an Alexis Sanchez attempt out of the goalmouth and Bounou denied another Inter substitute, Antonio Candreva, in stoppage time.
What does it mean? Sevilla continue remarkable relationship with competition they adore
In the modern era of super clubs and blockbusting transfers, Sevilla’s capacity to return to the top of this podium time and again truly is a wonder of the sport.
A relentless turnover of players and coaches does nothing to dissuade them and this triumph stands as a moment of redemption for the man in the dugout, Julen Lopetegui, who was sacked by both Spain and Real Madrid in 2018 but now has a first trophy of his coaching career.
Europa League master Lukaku left with bitter taste
Lukaku’s nerveless early penalty was his ninth of this Europa League campaign and his 11th consecutive goalscoring outing in the competition – a run that has yielded 15 goals.
The Belgium star has 17 goals in his past 16 European knockout matches and 34 overall in 2019-20 amounts to an emphatic statement for a player reborn under Conte. He deserved better than such a cruel twist of fate
Careless Diego Carlos bails himself out
Diego Carlos headed into the final stages of the Europa League reportedly on the radar of a number of heavyweight clubs. He quickly completed an unwanted hat-trick, having also conceded penalties in the quarter-final and semi-final.The Brazilian was also the cause of some of Conte’s fury when claims for handball went unheeded.
By the time his foul on Lukaku led to Inter’s second his reputation had taken a battering, with Bounou bailing out his team-mate after the hour. When your night is going like that, why not try an overhead kick in the opposition’s box?
Key Opta Facts
Sevilla have either progressed to the next round or won the competition in 21 of their last 22 Europa League knockout ties.
Inter lost in a major European final for the first time since the 1997 UEFA Cup, when they were beaten on penalties by Schalke after a 1-1 draw on aggregate over two legs.
Lukaku’s 34 goals in all competitions is the most by an Inter player in their debut season since Ronaldo scored 34 in 1997-98.
Diego Carlos conceded three penalties in the 2019-20 Europa League, the first player to concede that many in a single campaign since Chelsea’s Cesar Azpilicueta in 2012-13.
Both teams have a quick turnaround heading into their 2020-21 domestic seasons. Serie A launches on September 19, a week after LaLiga, although Marca reports Sevilla will not resume until the third matchweek due to their exertions in Germany.
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