Sevilla 3-1 Shakhtar Donetsk (5-3 agg): Kevin Gameiro fires holders into Europa League final
By Jack Wilkinson
Last Updated: 05/05/16 11:05pm
Holders Sevilla sealed their place in a third straight Europa League final after a 3-1 win over Shakhtar Donetsk saw them progress 5-3 on aggregate.
Having lifted the trophy in 2014 and 2015, Sevilla's quest for a third consecutive title got off to the perfect start at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan as Kevin Gameiro capitalised on a defensive error to give the La Liga side the lead on nine minutes.
Former Arsenal striker Eduardo drew Shakhtar level against the run of play on 44 minutes but Gameiro restored Sevilla's lead with a well-taken second two minutes after the restart.
Sevilla kept a toothless Shakhtar attack at bay for the most part and put the game beyond the visitors on 59 minutes when full-back Mariano emphatically lashed home a third.
And there proved to be no way back for Shakhtar as Unai Emery's side continued their love affair with the tournament to set up a meeting with Liverpool in the final in Basel on May 18.
Sevilla welcomed back Benoit Tremoulinas and Coke into the starting line-up on Thursday night while Mircea Lucescu opted for Eduardo to leave the line for Shakhtar, with Facundo Ferreyra dropped to the bench.
The Spaniards started well and were in front inside 10 minutes as Frenchman Gameiro pounced on Maksym Malyshev's mis-control to race through on goal before sending the ball through Andriy Pyatov's legs.
Sevilla headed into the game with a flawless record in European semi-finals and that record rarely came under threat as Shakhtar struggled to create chances.
But the visitors were given hope when Marlos - anonymous until that point - played Eduardo through on goal and the Croatian unerringly slotted the ball past David Soria shortly before the break.
Shakhtar, buoyed by drawing level, started the second half brightly but Viktor Kovalenko was unable to capitalise as he lashed wide a minute after the restart.
And that chance only spurred on Sevilla, who doubled their lead in the next attack as Grzegorz Krychowiak threaded Gameiro into space in the area and he calmly rounded Pyatov before rolling the ball into the unguarded net.
Each of the previous meetings between Sevilla and Shakhtar had ended in 2-2 draw but hopes of a repeat were dashed 12 minutes later as Mariano picked up the ball on the right and lashed a swerving effort into the far corner.
The third goal all-but secured Sevilla's place at a third straight Europa League final, with Shakhtar unable to haul themselves back into the contest.
Eduardo could have sparked a comeback on 72 minutes, but his precise headed drifted fractionally wide as Sevilla saw out the victory and set their sights for the Swiss capital.