Sunday 22 October 2017

Sevilla glory as curse continues to haunt Benfica

Sevilla 0 Benfica 0 (Sevilla win 4-2 on pens AET)

Benfica's goalkeeper Jan Oblak fails to stop Sevilla's Kevin Gameiro's penalty
Benfica's goalkeeper Jan Oblak fails to stop Sevilla's Kevin Gameiro's penalty
Sevilla's Ivan Rakitic lifts the Europa League trophy
Sevilla's Alberto Moreno and Benfica's Maxi Pereira

The curse of Bela Guttman returned to haunt Benfica as Sevilla won a penalty shoot-out to beat the Portuguese giants in the Europa League final in Turin.

The Hungarian coach declared Benfica would never win another European final when he was denied a pay-rise and left the club in anger having delivered back-to-back European Cups in 1961 and 1962.

Over the intervening 52 years, Benfica have fallen short in the final on seven occasions, most recently conceding a late goal to Chelsea in Amsterdam to concede the 2013 Europa League crown.

Last night they could not be separated from Sevilla – UEFA Cup winners in 2006 and 2007 – over 120 minutes and penalty misses from Oscar Cardozo and Rodrigo allowed substitute Kevin Gameiro to prolong their agony as Guttman's fateful words rang around the Juventus Stadium.

Sevilla had most of the ball early on and might have scored through Carlos Bacca in the ninth minute.

The Colombian raced into the box to keep up with a swift counter-attack but, after coming up just short on Ivan Rakitic's low cross from the left, he was, in fact, ahead of the move and ruled offside.

Sevilla's Portuguese goalkeeper Beto got his first feel of the ball as Nicolas Gaitan's free-kick dipped towards the far post and he had to think quickly to repel Ezequiel Garay on the rebound.

Alberto Moreno was the first Sevilla player to truly test Jan Oblak, his drive from outside the box forcing the Slovenian stopper off his line.

Jose Reyes wasted a gilt-edged opportunity when arriving in the area at speed to blast straight into Oblak's gloves. Extra-time seemed increasingly inevitable and, just after Garay's desperate swing at a loose ball from the 'D' spooned over the bar, the final whistle sounded.

The Argentinian defender tried his luck again in the second of 30 additional minutes and Beto survived a particularly sticky moment when parrying Lima's free-kick to safety.

In the penalty shoot-out Lima and Bacca netted before Cardozo's stuttering run-up saw him clip the ball straight at Beto.

Stephane Mbia powered home and Sevilla were on the verge of claiming the trophy when Rodrigo was denied.

Coke scored, Luisao kept Benfica alive for a few seconds longer, but substitute Gameiro was soon wheeling away in celebration after beating Oblak to inspire rapture among the Sevilla supporters.

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