The Europa League (née UEFA Cup) and Sevilla go together like peas and carrots. Six finals, six wins for the Andalusian side, who once again overcame an early setback to vanquish Antonio Conte’s Internazionale, 3-2 in Cologne on Friday night. Must be in the water.
Julen Lopetegui’s decision to give striker Luuk de Jong the start paid off handsomely, with the hero of the semifinal against Manchester United also coming up trumps with two tremendous headers to overcome an early goal from former Chelsea prospect Romelu Lukaku.
Lukaku had blown by penalty-prone Diego Carlos (third straight match with a penalty given away) and then coolly dispatched the ball from the spot in the fifth minute to give Inter the lead. But Sevilla struck back with two set piece goals before long-time Atlético center back Diego Godín got Inter back on level terms with a set piece of their own.
The second half wasn’t quite the goalfest that the first was. And with the game finely balanced on a knife’s edge, the roles from the first goal reversed as a careless touch from Lukaku diverted an overhead kick from Diego Carlos into the back of the net.
Conte threw on the likes of Christian Eriksen, Alexis Sánchez, and Chelsea loanee Victor Moses, and the latter two almost got Inter back on level terms, but it was not meant to be.
“It was a tough, balanced match. Each moment in the second half could have sparked the game into life. We had a big chance, then came the unfortunate own goal. But we can only have so much regret because the boys gave everything against a team who are used to playing these kinds of games. Sevilla have won this competition several times, always doing well in finals and that’s what made the difference in the end.”
-Antonio Conte; source: Internazionale
So, no trophies for Conte in his first year back in management, and still no trophies for Lukaku since winning the Belgian league with Anderlecht way back in 2010, in his first season as a professional. So that’s unfortunate, but congrats to Sevilla and probably-not-future-Chelsea-player Sergio Reguilón.