Sevilla lifted the Europa League after beating Benfica on penalties at the Juventus Stadium on Wednesday. Despite 120 minutes of football, the two teams were deadlocked at 0-0, meaning only one thing -- the dreaded spot-kicks. After a couple of stops from Sevilla keeper Beto, his teammate Kévin Gameiro was on hand to thump the winning penalty into the back of the net, sealing the silverware for the Spaniards.
Despite the game ending up goalless, it was a rather eventful affair. Benfica were the more threatening in the opening exchanges, and who created the first clear-cut chance of the game inside a quarter-of-an-hour. Sevilla keeper Beto spilled Nicolás Gaitán's curling free-kick straight into the path of centre-back Ezequiel Garay, only to make amends by denying the Argentine at the near post.
Sevilla looked to break with pace through their playmaker Ivan Rakitić, though the Benfica defense proved up to the task of keeping them at bay, despite striker Carlos Bacca looking threatening. The best chance of the entire half came in stoppage time at the other end of the pitch, with Beto forced into a save on Maxi Pereira from point-blank range, before diving to stop Rodrigo's attempt on the rebound.
Benfica started the second half as spritely as they ended the first, and only a goalline clearance from centre-back Nicolás Pareja prevented Lima from breaking the deadlock within three minutes of the restart. Sevilla, however, swiftly followed up with a great chance of their own; only a last-ditch intervention from Luisão preventing Bacca from letting fly from inside the penalty area.
It was an electric start to the second half, with the game opening out after a cagey start. It was last-ditch defending galore, with both teams lucky to get away with their defensive mistakes. José Antonio Reyes should've punished Benfica for one when he found some space in the box just past the hour, though his powerful shot was smothered by Benfica stopper Jan Oblak at the second time of asking.
It was an evening in which defenses triumphed over attacks, with the excellent Pareja called into action again to prevent Lima from pulling the trigger inside the final 20 minutes. Benfica looked more threatening as the game wore on, with Beto tipping Rodrigo's long-range effort over, shortly before Garay cleared the crossbar on the end of Gaitán's inch-perfect delivery. The centre-back had another great chance in stoppage time, though he flicked a corner over the bar. Extra time beckoned.
With legs tiring, it's perhaps unsurprising the game tightened up as the game's third period kicked off. That didn't stop perhaps the best chance of the entire match falling to Sevilla striker Bacca 10 minutes in, though the Colombian prodded wide of the far post after being sent through one-on-one with Oblak. That was pretty much the only chance of the half-hour of extra time, with both sides settling for the dreaded penalty shootout.
Benfica's Lima stepped up to calmly dispatch the opening spot-kick low and hard, before Bacca smashed an equalizer into the roof of the net. Beto gave Sevilla the upper hand by diving to save Oscar Cardozo's spot-kick, with Mbia pressing home the Spaniards' advantage by netting his penalty. Things went from bad to worse for Benfica when Beto kept out Rodrigo's spot-kick, with Coke scoring to give Sevilla a two-goal buffer. Captain Luisão kept Benfica in with a shout by scoring his kick, though Gameiro sealed the win by thumping his penalty past Oblak.
Sevilla: Beto; Moreno, Fazio, Pareja, Coke; Carriço, Mbia; Vitolo (Figueiras 110'), Rakitić, Reyes (Marin 78' [Gameiro 104']); Bacca.
Benfica: Oblak; Siqueira (Cardoso 99'), Garay, Luisão, Pereira; Gaitán (Cavaleiro 119'), Amorim, Gomes, Sulejmani (Almeida 25'); Lima, Rodrigo.