Spanish side Sevilla sensationally claimed a third Europa League title on Wednesday after a dramatic penalty shootout in which Benfica pair Oscar Cardozo and Rodrigo missed from the spot to extend the Portuguese giants’ European final hoodoo.
Benfica, recently crowned league and League Cup champions, came to Turin confident of ending a 52-year hoodoo in which they had lost seven European finals since winning the second of two consecutive European Cups in 1962.
Benfica had stumbled at the last hurdle five times in the European Cup, once in the UEFA Cup (1983) and once in its successor, the Europa League, in 2013 when they lost 2-1 to Chelsea in Amsterdam.
However, despite creating the lion’s share of chances in a fairly balanced encounter, the ‘Benfica Curse’ was maintained as Jorge Jesus’s men ultimately failed to convert the numerous chances they created at Juventus Stadium.
The match remained scoreless after two 15-minute periods of extra time and, when it came to penalties, Sevilla stepped up to the plate in impressive fashion.
Benfica striker Lima was able to get the Portuguese giants off the mark but, after Sevilla striker Carlos Bacca fired into the roof of the net to pull level, Sevilla ‘keeper Beto dived low to save Oscar Cardozo’s tame shot.
Stephane Mbia then sent Jan Oblak the wrong way to make it 2-1 and, after Beto saved Rodrigo’s equally soft shot, the title was Sevilla’s after Frenchman Kevin Gameiro, a late substitute, gave the Spaniards an unassailable 4-2 lead following successful spot kicks from either side by Coke and Benfica captain Luisao.
“I hit it hard and I just hoped it would go in,” said Gameiro, who moved to Sevilla from French champions Paris Saint Germain last year for 10 million euros ($A15 million).
“It is a magnificent moment for me and for the team. We targeted this trophy all season and it was not easy but we have achieved it.
“It has turned out to be a great season after a tough start but the team really bonded together and this is the result,” added the 27-year-old.
Sevilla can boast winning three titles from Europe’s second-tier club competition.
In 2007, the Spaniards beat fellow La Liga side Espanyol on penalties.
Their triumph this year is all the more impressive as Emery’s revamped side, who only finished ninth in last season’s Spanish championship, were given entry because two other clubs failed to meet the financial benchmark set by UEFA.