Sevilla and Benfica were deadlocked at the end of ninety minutes, with the goalkeepers and defenders the main protagonists in the Europa League final. The game remained on a knife’s edge into extra-time. Still inseparable, the lottery of penalties decided the winner, as Beto made crucial saves and Sevilla didn’t miss once from the spot.
Sevilla and Benfica made a hell for leather start to the final in Turin, but neither side could take any early control, with space to move at a premium.
German referee Felix Brych also showed that he wasn’t going to give any quarter either, producing yellow cards for Sevilla players Fazio and Alberto Moreno, inside the first fifteen minutes and both for mistimed challenges on Benfica forward, Miralem Sulejmani.
The first clear chance of the game came for Benfica in the 14th minute, after Gaitán sent a dangerous ball into the area, which Garay fired towards goal on the volley, but Beto was down well to make the save. The Portuguese side kept up their spell of pressure, with Garay again coming close from a corner. After yet another corner, Amorim had a good opportunity on the edge of the area, as the clearance fell short. His effort however, was comfortably over the crossbar.
Sevilla survived those scares, but hadn’t really a grip on the game going forward. For their part and after his earlier knocks, Benfica were forced to make a change in the 25th minute, with Sulejmani injured and replaced by André Albeida.
Following that change to the Benfica ranks, Sevilla did start to press forward and Rakitic caught a lucky break of the ball and just as he was pulling the trigger, was blocked by a timely intervention from André Gomes in the 27th minute. On-loan Granada left-back Siqueira was the first Benfica player into the book three minutes later, after a foul on Mbia.
Past the half-hour mark, the game was a stop-start affair littered with stoppages for numerous fouls. Eventually however in the 37th minute, Reyes set Sevilla off on a good move, with Alberto Moreno bursting forward on the overlap, before curling a shot towards goal, only to be denied by Oblak. Another chance soon followed in the 39th minute, as an effort from Bacca was tipped wide, but so dangerous all season from set-pieces all season, the Andaluz side could do nothing from the resulting corner.
Benfica had a good opportunity in the 40th minute, as Luisão rose highest to meet a corner from Gaitán, but couldn’t direct it underneath the crossbar. Sevilla players were calling for a second yellow card for Siqueira in the 41st minute, after he fouled Pareja, but the referee didn’t see enough to give the Brazilian his marching orders.
As the game headed into first-half stoppage time, Sevilla were lucky not to fall behind after Benfica had a number of great chances. Maxi Pereira with the first, connecting well with a great ball from Amorim, but denied by an excellent save from Beto, who was again on hand to deny a chance from Rodrigo, after he burst through and took aim.
Although Sevilla started the opening moments of the second half, with enough pressure to win a corner, it was Benfica who then took control and attacked as they had at the end of the first half.
Pareja was the saviour in the 48th minute, after Benfica caught them on the break and Lima whipped a shot past Beto, but the Sevilla defender was back just in time to clear off the line. The ball broke free to Rodrigo, who immediately looked for goal and once again, Pareja was there to make the intervention. Tense moments for the Andaluz side and seconds later, another rebounded effort saw Reyes back to block a good chance for Lima.
Having weathered that particular storm and with Benfica wondering how they weren’t in the lead, Sevilla then had a marvellous opportunity to edge themselves ahead in the 53rd minute. Rakitic showing excellent creativity with a lovely ball for the run of Reyes, but he was denied by an equally excellent challenge, just at the right time from Benfica defender Luisão. The next attack from Sevilla saw Reyes there again, but his shot from outside the area wasn’t enough to trouble Oblak.
Play swung the opposite direction and Benfica once more when hunting for the opening goal. Gaitán drew a good save from Beto in the 57th minute, after driving well from outside the area. Carriço was then fully alert after a quick corner from the Portuguese side in the 59th minute, blocking a good opportunity for Rodrigo.
Past the hour mark and still with no goals, there was still certainly no lack of endeavour from the two sides, in what had become an end to end contest. Rakitic initiating the best of the moves for Sevilla, freeing Coke down the right to send in a dangerous ball for Reyes to shoot first time, only to be denied by Oblak in the 61st minute.
More pressure came from Sevilla, as Rakitic continued to pull the creative strings. A foul by Benfica close to their area presented the Croatian with a good set-piece opportunity in the 71st minute. That was floated dangerously into the area for Fazio to head towards goal, but Oblak was there to make a good save.
Still with no breakthrough for either side, Sevilla made their first change of the game in the 78th minute, sending Marin on for Reyes. Now they had defending to do however, as Benfica looked to pressure and Fazio was forced to block a shot from Rodrigo in the 80th minute.
More pressure came from Benfica as Lima cut inside dangerously from the flank, dipping his shot towards goal, but denied by another good save from Beto in the 84th minute. Consecutive corners followed and Sevilla were almost undone in the 85th minute, when Garay drifted free of his markers at the far post, met the cross with a header, but just over the bar.
Into the final moments and as the game headed into stoppage time, the pressure was all with Benfica. Amorim had a chance blocked by Fazio, then Garay tried to volley in a free ball inside the area, but sent it over the crossbar. The defender missed another opportunity seconds later, before the final whistle came and Sevilla breathed a sigh of relief.
With an extra thirty minutes needed to decide the final, Sevilla were the first to make inroads towards goal, but after a searching ball from Rakitic seemed destined to find Bacca in space, Garay was alert and able to close the door on the Colombian striker.
Benfica made their second change of the night in the 99th minute, as Óscar Cardozo came on for Siqueira and the Portuguese side looked to attack. They immediately had a good chance when Lima pulled the trigger, but after a difficult bounce, Beto was able to get his body behind the ball and deflect it clear of goal.
Play continued to switch from end to end, both sides hunting that all important goal and in the 101st minute, Bacca had a great chance to score, following a lovely through ball from Rakitic. Though the Colombian burst clean through on goal, his finish whizzed wide of the post and he really should have taken it. Just before the end of the first period, Emery made his second change and opting to replace his first substitute Marin, with Gameiro in attack, switching to a 4-4-2 formation.
Benfica had the first dangerous attack of the second period, but after André Gomes managed to forge himself space to shoot in the 107th minute, his finish was wayward and well over the crossbar.
Gameiro had his first chance since leaving the Sevilla bench, but he could only fire into the side netting in the 110th minute. That was immediately followed by the final change from Emery, as he sent on Diogo to replace Vitolo.
Still the sides remained deadlocked and after a Rakitic free-kick was saved by Oblak, André Gomes couldn’t find the breakthrough for Benfica, when he had another opportunity in the 115th minute. The heroic touch failed Mbia for Sevilla then in the 117th minute, as he sent a cross-shot over the byline.
With the game seemingly destined for penalties, Benfica made their final change, as Jorge Jesus sent on Ivan Cavaleiro on for Gaitán in the 119th minute. Into two added minutes of stoppage time, the tension was palpable as Sevilla forged a way forward on the attack, but Diogo couldn’t find a way through, with his effort blocked by Garay. There was no more time left after that.