The Europa League trophy is heading back to Sevilla after the Spaniards beat Ukrainian side FC Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk in the Europa League Final in Warsaw, Poland on Wednesday. This is the fourth time in nine years that Sevilla wins the tournament and this is the first time under the new format that was introduced in 2009 that a club has won it back-to-back.
Most of the news in the soccer world on Wednesday was regarding the FIFA corruption scandal and the indictments handed down by a federal court in Brooklyn, N.Y.
But there was a game to be played on the pitch, as the final of the second biggest European club competition took center stage in Warsaw. Sevilla was the favorite heading in to the game, but Dnipro were ready to spoil the party for the Spaniards, as they have been playing some strong defensive soccer throughout the tournament.
It was a highly entertaining first half for fans at the Stadion Narodowy in the Polish capital. Dnipro opened up the scoring in the seventh minute after Nikola Kalinic first deflect a ball to Matheus and then met his cross with a head just a couple of yards from the goal line and put the ball behind Sergio Rico in the Sevilla goal. It was the perfect start for Dnipro, who have been focusing a lot of defense during the whole tournament. They tried to stave off Sevilla, which is no easy task, as the Spanish side plays a very exciting and free-flowing attacking game.
Sevilla went from being down 1-0 to leading 2-1 in the span of three minutes. Grzegorz Krychowiak got the tying goal after he ended up with the ball inside the penalty box after a corner, and through a bunch of bodies he was able to strike the ball past Denis Boyko in the Dnipro goal in the 28th minute. Carlos Bacca was credited with the assist on the goal, and three minutes later it was his turn to score after a great through ball by Jose Antonio Reyes. Bacca timed his run perfectly and alone with Boyko he made no mistakes.
Right before halftime, Dnipro got back to level after a very nice free kick by Ruslan Rotan. Rotan curled the ball over the Sevilla wall and into the back of the net from a couple of yards outside the penalty box.
Dnipro played extremely physical all game, and ended giving up 24 free kicks and was handed five yellow cards by referee Martin Atkinson.
In the second half, Sevilla pushed on and in the 73rd minute, Bacca scored his second of the game and what would be the winning goal. After a nice chip by Vitolo right outside the penalty box, Bacca had another well-timed run and slotted the ball home with his left foot past Boyko.
Wild jubilations erupted as the final whistle blew and the Sevilla players ran around the pitch celebrating. The players were handed their medals by UEFA president Michel Platini and then hoisted the trophy for the second year running. Sevilla is now the most successful club in Europa League history with four wins (2006, 2007, 2014, 2015). It’s the second time Sevilla has won back-to-back European trophies, but the first time a team has done it under the new format (Europa League was formerly known as the UEFA Cup). Juventus, Inter, and Liverpool all have three titles.
On their way to lift the trophy, Sevilla had a record of 11 wins, three draws, and just a single loss. They scored 29 goals in those 15 games and only allowed 15. Bacca lead the team with seven goals in the tournament, but none of them were as important as the two he scored in the Final.