Inter Bend Knee To Sevilla In Thrilling Europa League Final

Inter didn’t make it. The Europa League speaks Andalusian again as Sevilla toppled the Nerazzurri 3-2 at the end of a thrilling and tough Final in Cologne. The Spanish side conquered the second European competition for an unprecedented sixth time as Inter’s dreams vanished when an unfortunate Romelu Lukaku deflection sent the ball into his own goal for Sevilla’s winner.

It’s sad and unfair having to link Lukaku’s name to the goal that enabled Lopetegui’s side to put their hands on the cup – especially as the big Belgian had been the main character in Inter’s journey up to the final stage of the competition.

Friday night’s defeat surely has little to do with Lukaku and was rather due to Inter appearing nervous since the very beginning of the game – starting from coach Antonio Conte – and exhausted when it was time to give the last push to look for a late equalizer following Sevilla’s third goal.

Sevilla’s merits, on the other hand, were unquestionable. Julen Lopetegui’s side confirmed to be an authentic Europa League animal, led by evergreen Ever Banega – whose free-kicks and crosses were an authentic scourge for the Nerazzurri – and blessed with unexpected goleador Luuk De Jong who bagged a brace just a few days after scoring against Manchester United and pushing Sevilla to the Final.

De Jong was Lopetegui’s unexpected move in the starting lineup as the coach deployed him instead of regular starter Youssef En-Nesyri in the middle of the front line, supported by Suso and Lucas Ocampos on the wings. It was a good idea. Antonio Conte offered no surprises as he confirmed the eleven men who had crushed Shakhtar Donetsk in the Semi-Finals.

It was a real Final in Cologne with Inter and Sevilla battling to the death to clinch the Europa League throne

The Nerazzurri were off to a good start in Cologne as they draw first blood after just four minutes. Nicolò Barella launched Inter’s counterattack serving Romelu Lukaku, defender Diego Carlos seemed to be in control of him but was overpowered by Inter’s number 9. Sevilla’s defender had thus no choice but to trample him in the box, causing a crystal clear penalty and scoring a yellow card in the process.

It was the third penalty in a row caused by the naive 27-year-old Brazilian – who, however, would soon have a chance to redeem himself. Just wait and see. Romelu Lukaku was stone-cold to bury the spot to wrap his 34th goal in his maiden season with the Nerazzurri – just like some guy named Ronaldo did in the 1997-98 campaign…

Sevilla’s reaction was fast and effective. In the 12th minute, captain Jesus Navas powered a fine cross from the right side and Luuk De Jong hit the target with a perfectly-timed header, anticipating his marker Diego Godin. That was the second goal in a row for the Dutchman after his winner against Manchester United – and it was not over.

The match got tense and nervous. Antonio Conte was on fire, growling at pretty much everybody during the first quarter of the game and even getting into a harsh quarrel with Ever Banega – allegedly because the Argentine taunted him by making some speculations about his hair regrowth…

In the 33rd minute, Banega – a former Inter player himself – turned a free-kick from the right side into a vicious cutting cross that found De Jong’s header again, this time standing on top of Roberto Gagliardini. De Jong nailed the ball into Samir Handanovic’s top left corner to put the Andalusians ahead.

Sevilla’s lead lasted only three minutes, however: Another free-kick, another cross, and another header – with Marcelo Brozovic and Diego Godin acting as a provider and a finisher respectively – drew level for the Nerazzurri at 2-2.

Romelu Lukaku had a major chance to score the third for Inter in the second half but Sevilla’s goalie Yassine Bounou managed to stop him

Lopetegui’s side left the initiative to the Nerazzurri in the second half, limiting to break their tempo whenever Conte’s side tried to show their faces around Yassine Bounou’s goal. Their first chance in the second period came only around the one-hour mark: It was an Ashley Young shot from out of the box that ended way out of the target.

Lukaku was much more dangerous in the 64th minute, well served by Barella, but Bounou confirmed his great state of form as he denied the Belgian in a one-on-one confrontation. It could have been the action that changed the game in Inter’s favor.

With 22 minutes to go and the match now stuck in a stalemate, both coaches started to look for some trump cards from their substitute lists. Lopetegui was the first to make a move as he sent in Munir El Haddadi in place of an exhausted Lucas Ocampos.

The biggest threats for Inter, however, continued to come from Ever Banega’s free-kicks. In the 74th minute, the Argentine whipped another one in the box. Inter’s defense somehow managed to clear it but – guess who! – Diego Carlos came up with an incredible overhead kick (!), causing no less than Romelu Lukaku to deflect the ball into his own net for Sevilla’s 3-2.

Diego Carlos’overhead that triggered Sevilla’s decisive goal came as a surprise even to himself as the Brazilian defender is not exactly known for being a fine goal-scorer…

As Lopetegui changed his second winger – replacing Suso with Franco Vazquez – Conte came up with a triple substitution and threw in the mix Christian Eriksen, Victor Moses, and Alexis Sanchez. Moses and Sanchez quickly made themselves dangerous but Jules Koundé managed to clear the Chilean’s attempted conversion right on the goal line.

Conte went all-in for the final assault as he sent in Antonio Candreva for Diego Godin, leaving only two role defenders on the pitch, but Sevilla managed to keep the ball away from their box for the remaining time. Inter appeared tired and confused in the latest stages of the game and didn’t come to threaten Bounou anymore.

That’s probably what hurt Inter the most as the Nerazzurri didn’t manage to create any real scoring chance in the last 10 minutes. Sevilla couldn’t even believe it as they lifted the trophy for the sixth time. The Europa League is once again their thing.  



August 21, 2020 – Europa League 2019-20 Final

SCORERS: 4′ Lukaku (I, pen.), 12′ De Jong (S), 33′ De Jong (S), 35′ Godin (I), 74′ Diego Carlos (S)

SEVILLA (4-3-3): Bounou; Jesus Navas, Koundé, Diego Carlos (85′ Gudelj), Reguilon; Banega, Fernando, Jordan; Ocampos (69′ Munir), Suso (76′ Vazquez), L. De Jong (84′ En-Nesyri) (Vaclík, Sergi Gómez, Escudero, Óliver Torres, Lara, Diaz, Rodriguez, Perez) Coach: Lopetegui
INTER (3-5-2): Handanovic; Godin (89′ Candreva), De Vrij, Bastoni; D’Ambrosio (69′ Moses), Barella, Brozovic, Gagliardini (69′ Eriksen), Young; Lukaku, Lautaro Martinez (69′ Sanchez) (Padelli, Sensi, Ranocchia, Borja Valero, Esposito, Pirola, Biraghi, Skriniar) Coach: Conte

REFEREE: Makkelie (Netherlands)
NOTES: Yellow Cards: Banega, Diego Carlos (S), Conte, Barella, Bastoni, Gagliardini (I); Extra Time: 1st Half 1′, 2nd Half 6′