European hat-trick: Sevilla beats Liverpool to win 3rd straight Europa League title
Make that three straight Europa League titles and counting.
On Wednesday, under the lights of St. Jakob-Park, Sevilla defeated Liverpool 3-1 in the Europa League final to win the competition for a third year running and for a record fifth time. The Andalusian club is the first to win European football's right-hand tournament on three consecutive occasions.
Sevilla's conquest also means that Unai Emery equals Giovanni Trapattoni's record of three Europa League titles - including the UEFA Cup - as a manager, while the club moves into third on the list of most major European competitions won by Spanish clubs.
The final was very much a tale of two halves. Liverpool was rampant in the first half and was rewarded for its pressure in the 35th minute. After he couldn't quite finish two earlier chances, Daniel Sturridge finally found the back of the net in the 35th minute, using the outside of his left foot to curve a shot past David Soria.
Then came the interval, during which time Emery clearly said something to Sevilla in the dressing room.
It took only 17 seconds for Sevilla to equalise in the second half, as Kevin Gameiro scored his 29th goal in all competitions, becoming the first French player to score in the final of a Europa League final or UEFA Cup final since Daniel Dutuel did so with FC Girondins de Bordeaux in 1996.
From there, Sevilla continued to threaten and took a deserved lead in the 64th minute, when Coke, the club's captain, launched a 20-yard shot past Simon Mignolet following a pair of one-twos involving Vitolo. Then, only six minutes later, the Spanish wing-back put the final out of reach by ramming home a shot from close range. Although he was in an offside position, Philippe Coutinho was the one to deflect the ball in his direction.
When the final whistle sounded, Liverpool's players collapsed to the ground, knowing they had faltered at the final hurdle. Jurgen Klopp, meanwhile, was left to reflect on his fifth consecutive defeat in a final, as the German manager oversaw the Reds' loss to Manchester City in this year's Capital One Cup final as well as two DFB-Pokal finals and one Champions League final at Borussia Dortmund. Furthermore, there will be no European football during his first full season at Anfield.
Sevilla, meanwhile, will take the pitch in the 2016-17 Champions League and can add yet another trophy to its cabinet on Sunday, when the club takes on Barcelona in the Copa del Rey final at the Vicente Calderon.
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