SEVILLE: Erik Lamela propelled Europa League kings Sevilla into the final once again with a 2-1 victory over Juventus on Thursday, sealing a 3-2 aggregate triumph in a gripping clash.
Lamela headed home in extra-time to complete an impressive comeback for the record six-time winners, who will face Jose Mourinho’s AS Roma in Budapest on May 31.
Roma went through after a goalless draw at Bayer Leverkusen sent them through to the Europa League final 1-0 on aggregate.
Juventus, who were 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 in 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.
“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 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.
Meanwhile, Roma came into the game with a narrow 1-0 lead, thanks to a second-half goal from Rome-born midfielder Edoardo Bove in the first leg.
Mourinho has stayed true to the defensive tactics for which he is known during this Europa League campaign — Roma conceded just three goals in eight knockout games on the way to the final.
Leverkusen started the game the brighter team, with 20-year-old creator Florian Wirtz pulling the strings in midfield.
Wirtz linked with France international forward Moussa Diaby after 12 minutes and the former Paris St-Germain youth product rattled the crossbar.
Iran striker Sardar Azmoun was pulled down on the counter-attack on the edge of the box with the first-half winding down but the referee waved the incident away despite the protests of the home players.
With the clock winding down, the home fans became increasingly incensed with the visitors’ stalling tactics, resulting in eight minutes of added time.
As the full-time whistle went, an elated Mourinho went directly to the elated visiting fans.
“My concern isn’t marking my place in the Roma history books,” Mourinho told Sky Sport. “It’s helping these kids (players) to grow, to achieve important things,” he said. “It’s also helping the Roma fans who have given me so much since day one. It’s an immense joy to get to another final.”
FIORENTINA DOWN BASEL TO REACH CONFERENCE LEAGUE FINAL
In the Europa Conference league semi-final, Fiorentina’s Antonin Barak struck deep into stoppage time at the end of extra time to take his side into the Europa Conference League final with a 3-1 win at Basel in the second leg of the semi-final that secured a 4-3 aggregate victory.
The Italians made their first European final in 33 years and will face West Ham United in the showpiece match in Prague on June 7 after the Londoners beat AZ Alkmaar 1-0 to claim a 3-1 aggregate win in their semi-final.
Fiorentina took the lead in the 35th minute when a corner was met by the unmarked Nicolas Gonzalez, who headed home to level the aggregate score at 2-2.
Zeki Amdouni then scored for Basel 10 minutes into the second half before Gonzalez responded in the 72nd with a well-placed shot, sending the match into extra time.
Nine minutes into stoppage time in the extra period Barak collected a loose ball inside the box and slotted it home from close range to send Fiorentina into the final.
In the night’s other semi-final Pablo Fornals’ stoppage-time goal sealed a victory that booked West Ham’s first European final appearance for 47 years.
But the semi-final second leg was marred by ugly scenes when a gang of black-shirted, hooded AZ fans attempted to storm into the area reserved for friends and family of the West Ham players and management.
Published in Dawn, May 20th, 2023
Dear visitor, the comments section is undergoing an overhaul and will return soon.