It was a thrilling Europa League Final, but Inter took the early lead through Romelu Lukaku, then he accidentally turned in the Diego Carlos bicycle-kick, as Sevilla won 3-2.

This was the first Nerazzurri major Final since 2010 and the first Italian side to reach this stage since it was called the UEFA Cup, with Parma in 1999. Sevilla, on the other hand, were serial winners, emerging victorious from all five previous Finals.

Matias Vecino was the only injury absentee in Cologne, as Inter chose the same XI for the fifth game running. Lucas Ocampos recovered from a knee problem, but Luuk de Jong was the centre-forward rather than Youssef En-Nesyri. It was behind closed doors, but the Sevilla directors had flags, scarves and were loudly singing fan chants.

Within five minutes, Romelu Lukaku had run away on the counter and was brought down clumsily by Diego Carlos for an inevitable penalty. Antonio Conte wanted a red card rather than yellow, but Lukaku converted past Yassine Bounou to give Inter the lead and score his 34th goal of the season (equal to Ronaldo in 1997-98), the 11th consecutive Europa League game on target.

In the fifth minute, this was also the earliest ever goal in the Europa League Final. However, Sevilla fought back immediately, as Jesus Navas whipped in a cross from the right and De Jong got in front of Diego Godin for the diving header at the near post.

The tension was sky high, as Conte was booked for dissent after penalty appeals when the ball struck a hand in the box, but the referee and VAR waved play on.

Instead, Sevilla turned the game around completely with another De Jong header, this time from an Ever Banega free kick, as he soared behind Roberto Gagliardini for a fantastic looping finish over Samir Handanovic.

Moments later, Inter were back on terms with 2-2 in this thrilling Final. Marcelo Brozovic flicked up a free kick and Diego Godin just steered it into the net at the far post. The Uruguayan became only the sixth player in history to score in both a Champions League and Europa League Final.

Handanovic fingertipped an Ocampos header out from under the bar on the stroke of half-time. After the restart, Gagliardini’s strike from just inside the box was charged down, while Sergio Reguilon hit the side-netting from a tricky angle.

Lukaku had a huge chance when starting a run from inside his own half, but Bounou rushed off his line and managed to parry with a trailing foot.

However, Lukaku was in the wrong place at the wrong time for the Sevilla goal, as he accidentally redirected a Diego Carlos overhead kick into the net, when it had seemingly been going wide of the target on a set play.

Inter made a triple substitution and it almost paid off on 82 minutes, as Victor Moses first and then Alexis Sanchez tried to prod from six yards, until Jules Kounde performed a goal-line clearance.

Sevilla taking a late lead allowed them to engage in the kind of gamesmanship they do so well, wasting time, going down for no reason and even the bench urging players about to be substituted to lie down.

Antonio Candeva came off the bench and immediately forced a save from Bounou, but six minutes of stoppages were not enough to turn this around again.

Culled from AF.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here