Some things never change – Benfica lose Europa League finals, Sevilla win them. This time it was penalty kicks after a 0-0 draw through the 120 minutes (in which Benfica were the better and more dangerous team) that gave the Spanish side the title, winning the competition for the third time.
It seems like this is some sort of destiny for Jorge Jesus – having his players dominate in a Europa League final before somehow messing up and finishing as runners-up. Last year it was a dramatic goal conceded in the final minute against Chelsea; this season it was miss after miss from close range. Once it was Ezequiel Garay, other times it was Lima. The most painful misses came from the spot.
Sevilla got four chances early on in the match and another big one from Carlos Bacca in extra time, missing in front of the keeper. But the Spanish side didn’t have a very good match, mostly relying on the brilliance of Ivan Rakitic to create chances for them, while Benfica were at their most dangerous when Maxi Pereira managed to beat his marker on the right wing. However, some nice saves from Beto and brave last-ditch defending prevented Benfica from scoring a few times, leading us to penalty kicks as everyone was falling to the grass like flies with exhaustion.
The difference in the kicking? No nonsense from the Sevilla players, as Carlos Bacca, Stéphane M’Bia, Coke Andújar and Kevin Gameiro took shots with force, making it impossible for Jan Oblak to do anything even when he actually got his hands on the ball.
Benfica lost the final with their second and third kicks. The first came from Oscar Cardozo, taking too long of a time in his build up for the kick while Beto did something he isn’t allowed to (but referees always ignore it) by creeping forward to deny Cardozo and clear view of the net. Rodrigo tried the same approach and produced a weak shot, easily saved by Beto.
For Spanish clubs not named Real Madrid & Barcelona (Atletico this season are the exception) this is the best it gets. For Benfica, this means their attempt at erasing all the wrongs from last year failed at the most difficult task, despite the joy of winning the championship for the first time since 2010.