3 things we learned as Sevilla win yet another Europa League

Sevilla - Inter Milan
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Sevilla – Inter Milan was one of the best UEFA Europa League finals in history, if not the best, as Sevilla beat Inter 3-2 in a wild, gritty final in Cologne, Germany.

The Europa League really does belong to Sevilla.

Sevilla won their sixth Europa League title in the last 14 seasons to extend their own record as the most successful team in the history of the tournament, as Julen Lopetegui won the first trophy of his coaching career and it was a tale of redemption for him after everything that happened with Spain and Real Madrid.

Lopetegui and many of Sevilla’s players were in tears at the final whistle as they were crowned Europa League champions once again.

As for Antonio Conte and Inter, they squandered an early lead and their nine-year wait for a trophy continues.

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The game got off to a flying start as Inter went 1-0 up. Lukaku stormed cleared of Diego Carlos and the Sevilla defender brought him down in the box to give away a penalty kick for the third-straight game. Lukaku rolled home the spot kick to score his 34th of the season and put Inter ahead, as Carlos was lucky to stay on the pitch. Their lead didn’t last for long. Sevilla equalized as Jesus Navas whipped in a lovely cross to the near post which was headed home brilliantly by Luuk de Jong to make it 1-1.

The end-to-end nature of the game continued as Ambrosio went close at the back post for Inter as the Italian giants wanted a penalty kick for a handball on Diego Carlos but nothing was given. That led to Antonio Conte being booked due to his complaints to the officials and plenty of late tackles started to fly in.

De Jong made it 2-1 before half time with a fine header from long-range but soon after Diego Godin made it 2-2 with a header from a free kick. Lucas Ocampos went close right on half time as Samir Handanovic saved well as another effort from a set piece was going in. In the second half Roberto Gagliardini’s shot was blocked by Diego Carlos as the game tightened up and both teams took fewer risks when in possession of the ball.

Yacine Bono then brilliantly denied Lukaku who was clean through, as Inter looked dangerous on the break but Sevilla won it in bizarre fashion.  Diego Carlos sent an acrobatic overhead effort towards the far post and it was going wide before Lukaku directed the ball into his own net. Late on substitute Alexis Sanchez had a shot cleared off the line by Jules Kounde as they chucked everyone forward but couldn’t find an equalizer.

Here’s a look at what we learned from Sevilla – Inter Milan in the Europa League final.


LUCKY BOY DIEGO CARLOS WINS IT

Diego Carlos should have been sent off in the opening moments for taking down Romelu Lukaku and giving away a penalty kick for the third-straight game in the Europa League. Carlos denied a clear goalscoring opportunity and made no attempt to play the ball, so he should have been handed a red card.

He stayed on the pitch, somehow, and his bicycle kick deflected off Romelu Lukaku and won the trophy for Sevilla. In the past few months Diego Carlos has been linked with a move to Liverpool, Manchester United and plenty of other clubs and although he is a powerful, dominant and confident defender, he is more than a little rash. Carlos probably played himself out of a move to the Premier League with these performances in the latter stages of the Europa League but he will be a hero at Sevilla. He so easily could have been the villain for being sent off or giving away another penalty for handball. He’s a lucky boy.


TOP CLASS DELIVERIES SEAL WIN FOR SEVILLA

Ever Banega was playing in his final game for Sevilla and the former Inter Milan midfielder whipped in so many delicious set pieces and two of them led to goals for Sevilla. He put another couple right on the head of Sevilla’s players too and Banega’s quality on the ball decided a tight, entertaining final. The Argentine midfielder will now head to play for Al-Shabab in Saudi Arabia and will do so as a Sevilla hero. Another Sevilla hero is local lad Jesus Navas, who has now won the Europa League three times with Sevilla.

Derided by many during his time at Manchester City as lightweight and lacking quality in the final third, Navas whipped in a beautiful cross for the first Sevilla goal and whipped in plenty of quality deliveries from right back. Navas has been a revelation in a deeper position and he dug deep once again and did plenty of defensive work to seal the title for his beloved Sevilla. Throughout the quarterfinals, semifinal and final, Sevilla stayed in games and set pieces and deliveries from out wide were crucial as they knocked out Wolves and Man United then beat Inter Milan in the final. The small details sealed success for Sevilla.


CONTE’S ANGER CLEAR

He was booked during the game as he wanted a handball and a penalty kick early on and Conte’s mood didn’t improve. The Italian coach has spoken out against the Inter hierarchy in recent months and although his first season in charge of Inter can be lauded as a huge success, they came up just short. Losing in the Europa League final and finishing second, by one point, in Serie A, Inter Milan are back to contending in Italy and in Europe but there’s still a long way to go.

Conte barking out orders has been commonplace this season and he will be so angry that his team lost this final because they failed to defend set pieces properly. Lukaku will rue missing a big chance in the second half and deflecting into his own net as Inter’s front two didn’t really get going with Lautaro Martinez marked out of the game and a big moment for Conte and Inter came and went. Conte is still searching for his first European trophy as a manager but he has Inter heading in the right direction.