Dnipro vs Sevilla. UEFA Europa League Final.
National Stadium, WarsawAttendance45,000.
Thursday 28 May 2015 08:51, UK
Sevilla became the first side to claim four Europa League titles after Carlos Bacca's double inspired them to a 3-2 victory over Dnipro at the National Stadium in Warsaw and with it a place in next season's Champions League.
The defence of their crown did not quite start as planned as former Blackburn striker Nikola Kalinic gave Dnipro the lead after just seven minutes of their first European final.
However, it took just three first half minutes for Unai Emery’s men to complete a turnaround as Grzegorz Krychowiak equalised in the 28th minute, before Bacca grabbed his first of the night.
Dnipro hit back just before the break through Ruslan Rotan’s free-kick but Bacca’s 73rd-minute strike – his sixth of the Europa League campaign – proved to be the difference as Sevilla claimed back-to-back Europa League titles and a direct route into next season’s Champions League just days after missing out via their league position
Dnipro could hardly have got off to a better start when they forced their way in front with just seven minutes gone. Kalinic climbed high to flick a long ball into the path of Matheus and then made his way into the middle to despatch the Brazilian's inch-perfect cross with a firm downward header.
The Ukrainian side, who saw off Olympiakos, Ajax and Napoli in previous rounds, have made a name for themselves in this season’s competition for being resolute in defence they were living up to their reputation as Sevilla struggled to break them down.
The closest the Spanish side came to an equaliser in the opening 25 minutes was when Krychowiak escaped the attention of Leo Matos at the far post, but his near-post header clawed to safety by Denis Bokyo.
However, the Poland international was not to be denied for long as Sevilla’s possession eventually paid off thanks to Bacca’s excellent knockdown and Krychowiak’s drilled finish.
The turnaround was complete just three minutes later as former Arsenal forward Jose Antonio Reyes picked out Bacca’s perfectly timed run before the Colombian striker rounded the goalkeeper and tapped home for his sixth Europa League goal of the season.
It was Dnipro’s turn to fight back just before the break and it was captain Rotan, who clipped a 25-yard free-kick over the wall and into the net, leaving Sergio Rico with absolutely no chance.
The frenetic pace of the game continued after the break, but with neither side able to create clear-cut chances until Krychowiak saw a 67th-minute shot blocked from point-blank range in the midst of a goalmouth melee.
With just 17 minutes to go it was Sevilla who made the breakthrough and it was the deadly Bacca, who latched onto Vitolo’s through ball before finishing into the bottom corner.
The Colombian striker had a huge chance to grab a hat-trick minutes later as Stephane Mbia’s cross picked him out in acres of space in the box, but he mistimed his header allowing Boyko to deflect the ball onto the roof of the night.
The Spanish side held on, although the game ended in worrying circumstances for Dnipro as midfielder Matheus left the field on a stretcher after appearing to collapse following a clash of heads.
Victory hands the Spaniards back-to-back triumphs in the competition in its current format and its previous incarnation as the UEFA Cup.
In the process, they went one better than Inter Milan, Juventus and Liverpool, with whom they had been level on three wins before kick-off.
Victory also hands Emery and his side a direct route into next season Champions League at the group stage after missing on qualification in La Liga when they finished fifth behind Valencia who took the final spot via league placing.