SEVILLA, May 19
Europa League thoroughbred Sevilla recovered to reach another final as substitute Erik Lamela’s fabulous header five minutes into extra time earned a gritty 2-1 win in a pulsating affair against Juventus on Thursday, securing a 3-2 aggregate victory.
The Spaniards will bid for a record-extending seventh Europa League title when they face AS Roma in the final in Budapest on May 31, after Jose Mourinho’s side drew 0-0 at Bayer Leverkusen to secure a 1-0 aggregate victory in their semifinal.
Juventus, who was held to a 1-1 draw by Sevilla in the first leg in Turin, looked on course to reach the final when substitute Dusan Vlahovic scored with a tidy finish in the 65th minute at the Sanchez Pizjuan Stadium.
But midfielder Suso levelled six minutes later with a stunning long-range strike to take the game into extra time.
Argentine Lamela then wrapped up the win when he leapt into a crowded area and sent a towering header into the net to delight the fans who refused to leave the stadium for ages after the match ended, celebrating with their jubilant players.
It was a cathartic night at Seville as the Europa League kings worked their magic yet again in their favourite competition after a difficult season.
Languishing in the bottom half of La Liga for a large part of a season in which two managers were fired, Sevilla rediscovered its mojo after exiting the Champions League and beat PSV Eindhoven, Fenerbahce and Manchester United before downing Juve.
“This is madness, incredible, it’s time to enjoy this amazing moment,” Sevilla captain Jesus Navas told Movistar Plus.
“The fans have been incredible and they deserve everything. We have shown the courage we have inside of us to recover after going through some rough months.
“The courage of the fans has carried us and we are here again in another European final. It’s been my team since I was a kid, living every game with so much passion. It’s our turn to enjoy.”
Like in the first leg in Turin, when Sevilla was in control but allowed its rival to equalise in added time, it dominated possession again on Thursday roared on by a raucous atmosphere at a sold-out Sanchez Pizjuan stadium.
Juve goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny was arguably the best player on the field in the first half, making several critical saves including a one-handed stop to keep out Navas’ diving header from close range.
But just as the host was in full control and missing chances, Juventus striker Dusan Vlahovic scored the opener three minutes after coming off the bench.
He ran at defenders Nemanja Gudelj and Loic Bade, who hesitated for a second and allowed the Serbia international to win the challenge and beat flailing goalkeeper Bono with a cool dinked finish.
But Sevilla hit back soon after through Suso’s strike that whistled into the top corner to light up the fans, who roared their team on as it put relentless pressure on Juve until Lamela scored the winner in extra time. The only downside for Sevilla was that left back Marcos Acuna was sent off extra time for time wasting after a second yellow card and will miss the Budapest final. Reuters