Seven quarter-finals, seven semi-finals and seven finals. Sevilla FC had done it once again and will be in Budapest, aiming to claim our seventh UEFA Europa League title. A brilliant atmosphere had been expected in Nervión and it did not disappoint, with the rain putting a damper on proceedings before the match, but could not stop the atmosphere reaching a climax in the stadium. Although comparisons with the quarter-final were inevitable, this time it was not so straightforward.
It wasn’t easy to make the final. We had to accept going one-nil down, lifting ourselves up and coming back to win against a shaken Juventus side, who went ahead through Vlahovic. Suso scored a screamer to send it to extra time and Lamela sent the crowd into a frenzy. There were still many minutes to go, but what we had achieved would not leave our grasp. It was a matter of seconds and Sevilla touched glory once again at their home stadium to set up another final. Budapest awaits on 31 May.
The delay prior to the opening whistle had its effect on both teams, prompting Sevilla to start quickly and to pin Juventus in their own half. It was a challenge that Juventus did not usually shy away from, and they held firm against Sevilla's attempts to break lines and send crosses into the box. It was difficult for the Turin side, but they finally shook off some of the pressure on the quarter-hour mark as they had their first corner.
Gatti came close to a repeat of the first leg as his strong header was going in at the far post, but Bono’s reflexes meant the scoreboard did not read 0-1. A scare that made it clear to Sevilla what was to come and made it clear they couldn’t make mistakes, like leaving space behind their defenders. Ocampos had to respond and he did so with a header with great intent that Szcesny kept out.
Juventus made it difficult for us and managed to take the lead.
But Juventus had no intention of changing their tactics and on the counter-attack created a lot of problems, unlike a week ago at the Juventus Stadium. Di Maria had a one-on-one with Bono, but the Argentinian opted to chip and the ball went wide. Shortly afterwards it was Kean who got the better of Gudelj and shot just wide of the post, but Bono was just on hand to push the ball wide and it rebounded off the post. In between the two clear Italian efforts, however, Acuna again made Szcesny work with a long-range shot that was struck with pure venom.
As the game went past the hour mark, chances were coming and going at both ends in a duel that was too open for comfort for the Sevillians. In addition, Allegri had to bring on Paredes for Fagioli who was injured after a collision with Gudelj. In the three minutes of extra time, there was room for controversy with Cuadrado's clear tackle on Óliver on the edge of the box. Although the referee, incredibly, saw nothing and once play had stopped, a minute’s long VAR check did not give what was a stonewall penalty.
And if in the first half both tried their luck, in the second Juventus uncovered the quality they have up front to make the tie a very difficult one. The Italians had created danger with their speed on the counter and Sevilla were pushing forward but were unable to break down the visitors' defence. And just seconds after Allegri revamped his attack with the introduction of Chiesa and Vlahovic, the Serbian picked up a ball on the edge of the area, slipped between the centre-backs and beat Bono with an accurate finish.
With 25 minutes left on the clock, it was time for the most difficult task of all, to equalise against the more conservative Juventus. Mendilibar brought on Suso and Lamela to freshen up his creative play and the man from Cádiz found the key from the edge of the area with a stunning strike on 72 minutes. Once again it was all square and Sevilla were again in control of the game, generating countless crosses into the box and corners as Juve were parrying. In the 90th minute, the clearest chance fell to En-Nesyri, who headed a cross from Navas into the top corner that once again allowed Szczesny to shine.
The final minutes of effort were followed by another 30 minutes and that is when Sevilla brought out the competitive spirit that they have forged in this competition. They wanted to score the goal that would avoid the uncertainty of penalties, but they were well positioned at the back and avoided excessive complications against a Juventus side that, under pressure, lost the precision that characterises them. And then, in the fifth minute of extra time, one more cross from Bryan Gil and Lamela's unmissable header at the near post turned the tie on its head.
There was almost the whole of extra time to go and no one assumed the goal had been achieved, but Bono was very safe in front of goal and Juventus never had a clear-cut chance in the whole of extra time. The only downside, now that we can think about Budapest, is the double yellow for Acuña for delaying a throw-in, which makes him a notable absentee for the game against AS Roma on Wednesday 31 May in Hungary.
And although at the moment it seems like the only important thing in the horizon, in the short term the only thing to think about is next Sunday's Gran Derbi in Nervión, in which the team is still playing for its hopes, with four games to go, of securing a European place through the domestic route. It will be a case of stretching out the hours of rest after tonight's tremendous effort and making the most of every member of the squad to make the most of a match that is always special.