Sevilla staged a stunning second half comeback with a 3-1 win over Liverpool to lift the UEFA Europa League for the third year in a row on Wednesday night in Basle.
Daniel Sturridge had initially given Liverpool the lead with a beautifully curled shot in the first half, but a goal 18 seconds into the second half followed by a brace from Captain Coke was enough to see Sevilla retain the trophy.
A cagey affair gave way to little action in the opening ten minutes as both sides battled to get a hold of the game. The only attacking threat came when Nathaniel Clyne tried to cut back to Daniel Sturridge deep inside the Sevilla half. However he failed to control the ball, which fell to Emre Can and the German had a well hit effort parried away by David Soria.
Two minutes later Nathaniel Clyne was involved again down the right as his cross was headed back by Sturridge, whose goal bound effort was cleared away by Daniel Carico.
Everything for Liverpool seemed to be coming down the right as Adam Lallana broke down the wing again and slipped Sturridge through but his shot was blocked by Soria.
Sevilla were finding it difficult to turn possesion into chances but a magical piece of skill from Kevin Gameiro nearly found it’s way past Simon Mignolet after 32 minutes. The ball was swung into the box from a Sevilla corner and as the ball was hung in the air, Gameiro tried his luck with an overhead kick that kissed the post.
It was another piece of brilliant skill however, that gave Liverpool the lead on 35 minutes. Philippe Couthino recieved the ball approaching the Sevilla box and spread it to the left where Sturridge cut inside and curled the ball into the corner of Soria’s net with the outside of his left foot.
Liverpool were in the ascendency and soon after had the ball in the back of the net again. However, Referee Jonas Eriksson ruled the goal out for offside as Dejan Lovren headed in a Liverpool corner but Sturridge was adjuged to have interferred in the goal from an offside position.
One minute later and Liverpool were claiming a penalty when Firminio battled well to win the ball and after attempting a through ball into the Sevilla box, defender Krychowiak looked to have handled the ball, but referee Eriksson waved play on.
There was time for one more liverpool attack before half time when the ever present Clyne had time to drill a dangerous cross along the edge of the six yard box but there was no red shirt on the end of it.
Sevilla would have been looking for an immediate response in the second half and only had to wait 18 seconds after the restart for the equaliser. Mariano Ferreira skipped past the weak challenge of Moreno on the right wing and played a simple ball into the six yard box for Gameiro who couldn’t miss.
Two minutes later and Gameiro was through again. Sevilla’s top scorer this campaign, raced through one on one with Mignolet and had his effort blocked by the Belgian who stood strong.
Liverpool were looking rattled and on 59 minutes Gameiro was left in acres of space in the Liverpool box from a Sevilla throw in, but the striker could only hit his effort straight at Mignolet from six yards.
Sevilla didn’t have to wait long to take the lead as Coke rounded off a fine move with a sublime finish which gave Mignolet no chance. Vitolo picked the ball up in the Liverpool half and played a neat one two through the Liverpool midfield and the opportunistic Coke was there to curl the ball in from the edge of the Liverpool box.
Liverpool were now looking a shell of their first half selves and five minutes later it was three when Liverpool couldn’t deal with another Sevilla attack and the ball deflected back to Coke off a Liverpool player and he fired in his second of the game despite Mignolet getting a hand to it.
Liverpool appealed for offside as it had looked as if Eriksson had doubts over the legality of the goal but it stood and Sevilla were on their way to their third triumph in as many years.
Jurgen Klopp tried to force a comeback by bringing on Christian Benteke and Divock Origi, however all Liverpool could manage was a couple of speculative shots from Couthino and Sturridge.
Coke was on a hat-trick and was very close to grabbing his third when Steven N’Zonzi and Gameiro broke as Liverpool pushed but when Gameiro cut back to Coke his shot was deflected wide.
Sevilla saw out the game with terrific professionalism and depsite Liverpool’s impressive first half display, the experience and mentality of the reigning Champions was too much for Klopp’s team to overcome.
Liverpool: Simon Mignolet, Nathaniel Clyne, Kolo Toure (Christian Benteke 82), Dejan Lovren, Alberto Moreno, Emre Can, James Milner, Pilippe Couthino, Adam Lallana (Joe Allen 72), Roberto Firminio (Divock Origi 68), Daniel Sturridge
Subs Not Used: Danny Ward, Martin Skrtel,, Lucas, Jordan Henderson
Booked: Dejan Lovren (29), Divock Origi (71), Nathaniel Clyne (94)
Sevilla: David Soria, Adil Rami (Timothee Kolodziejczak 77), Grzegorz Krychowiak, Daniel Carrico, Steven N’Zonzi, Sergio Escudero, Ever Banega, Vitolo, Coke, Mariano Ferreira, Kevin Gameiro (Vicente Iborra 88)
Subs Not Used: Sergio Rico, Vicente Iborra, Sebastian Cristoforo, Nicolas Pareja, Yevhen Konoplyanka, Fernando Llorente
Booked: Vitolo (56), Ever Banega (57), Rami (77), Mariano Ferreira (84)
Referee: Jonas Eriksson
Extraime Man of the Match: Coke (Sevilla)