Sevilla eventually came through a thrilling contest with Benfica to win the Europa League on penalty kicks at Juventus Stadium in Turin, Italy, on Wednesday.
The match may have ended 0-0 after 120 minutes, but it was enthralling nonetheless with plenty of chances over the course of the game. The penalty shootout produced as much excitement as ever, but it was the Spaniards who triumphed after both Oscar Cardozo and Rodrigo missed their chances for Benfica.
ESPN FC captured the moment that Kevin Gameiro hit the winning penalty, making history for his club:
Sevilla join Liverpool, Juventus and Inter Milan as the only 3-time UEFA Cup/Europa League Champions! pic.twitter.com/ZOvqW1RCoZ— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) May 14, 2014
Although the Sevilla official Twitter account is in Spanish, it does not take too much translating to see how they celebrated:
¡¡¡¡¡CAAAAAAMPEEEONEEEES!!!!!!!!!! GRANDE #SevilaFC— Sevilla Fútbol Club (@SevillaFC) May 14, 2014
There has been plenty of talk throughout the build-up to the final about the curse of Bela Guttmann, explained here by FootballFacts101:
In 1962 after he was denied a payrise, Béla Guttmann said-"Not in 100 years from now will Benfica win a European Cup". 8 final losses since!— FootballFacts101 (@FootballFact101) May 14, 2014
The curse has attracted plenty of new believers thanks to this result, including former Spain international Gaizka Mendieta:
ESPN's James Tyler noted another unusual turn of events, as the Europa League winners had two loanees from the championship in their side:
And to think Sevilla won with two Championship loanees in their XI: Stephane Mbia (QPR) and Daniel Carrico (Reading).— James Tyler (@JamesTylerESPN) May 14, 2014
There were plenty of congratulations for Sevilla's triumph, but there were question marks over their goalkeeper Beto's save from Cardozo, as illustrated by Soccer Sagacity:
The official Europa League Twitter account was keen to set the scene before the contest, as the Juventus Stadium looked great prior to kick-off:
Chances were at a premium in the first period, with fouls more prevalent than shots on goal. Although it was a fairly level first half, Benfica had done enough to remain favourites to lift the trophy, per Oddschecker.com:
Barry Anderson of the Edinburgh Evening News made the accurate observation of the unnecessarily bright clothing on display in Turin. Sevilla manager Unai Emery was especially guilty of irritating the fashion police with his red elbow pads on his black suit.
With the lack of goals in the contest, there was plenty of time for spotting famous faces in the crowd. Sir Alex Ferguson seemed to be having a lovely time with Juventus boss Antonio Conte:
UEFA President Michel Platini was also noted in the crowd, although he was looking much less impressed by what was going on:
Although there were no goals, the match was eventually full of excitement, with chances at either end over the piece and challenges flying in from all angles. Colin Udoh summed up the feelings of those watching:
This #UELFinal is the kind of game which could end 0-0 but still have you wanting more. . .— Colin Udoh (@ColinUdoh) May 14, 2014
Benfica were certainly dominating the contest by the end of 90 minutes, creating numerous excellent chances that they failed to take. Their frugality in front of goal was persuading some to believe still further in the dreaded Bela Guttmann curse, including CNN's John Sinnott:
If Benfica, who are are so in control, don't win this game I really will start believing in Bela Guttmann curse #EuropaLeagueFinal— John Sinnott (@JohnSinnott) May 14, 2014
It appears that the curse lives on as Benfica make it eight European finals without a win. They were perhaps the better team on the night, but that counts for nothing when it comes to penalty kicks.
Sevilla have proved themselves yet again to be a wonderfully dogged side in European competition and will hope to keep this side together and build on this results next season. However, a number of their star players may be snapped up by bigger clubs after this impressive result.