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This victory is for Reyes and Puerta – Lopetegui dedicates Europa League win to late Sevilla icons




An emotional Julen Lopetegui dedicated Sevilla’s Europa League final triumph over Inter to the club’s late greats Jose Antonio Reyes and Antonio Puerta.

Sevilla edged a thrilling encounter in Cologne, as Los Nervionenses battled back from Diego Carlos’ third penalty concession in as many games – Romelu Lukaku converting this one.

A Luuk de Jong brace put Sevilla in front, but Diego Godin restored parity after Diego Carlos conceded a free-kick and then lost the Uruguayan.

But the Sevilla defender went from zero to hero 16 minutes from time, his overhead kick going in off Lukaku and Lopetegui’s men held on to lift the trophy for a sixth time.

The last time they won it in 2016, Reyes was club captain. The former Arsenal, Real Madrid and Spain star died a little over three years later in a traffic collision.

Although he was no longer at the club, it was an incident that rocked Sevilla, a club that was already familiar with tragedy following the 2007 death of Puerta – the scorer of the decisive goal that qualified the Rojiblancos for their first UEFA Cup final in 2006 and passed away after suffering a cardiac arrest during a LaLiga match.

Following the example of captain Navas, who came through the club’s academy with both Reyes and Puerta, Lopetegui dedicated Friday’s win to them, saying: “I am very happy.

“For me, it is an immense joy. I ask the fans for prudence, but that they celebrate because this victory is for them and also for Reyes and Puerta.

“I am very happy, especially for the players. Everyone has helped, whether they play or not, in a very complex scenario.

“They are great for their work and for what they transmit. They sought the jackpot and achieved it against a great team, and having conceded three penalties at the beginning of the three games.

“The anthem says that this team never gives up, and we have put it into practice.”

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