Sevilla script stunning coup

Football Europa League semifinals

Sevilla script stunning coup

Sevilla snatched a last-gasp place in the Europa League final when a 94th-minute Stephane Mbia header put them through on away goals after their semifinal against Valencia ended 3-3 on aggregate on Thursday.

Despite going down 3-1 in their second leg at Valencia’s Mestalla stadium, Mbia’s dramatic late strike set up a final showdown with Benfica on May 14 after the Portuguese club eliminated Italian side Juventus 2-1 on aggregate following a 0-0 draw in Turin.

Sevilla were favourites to advance against their La Liga rivals after winning last week’s first leg 2-0 at home but a 14th-minute Sofiane Feghouli effort, an own goal from goalkeeper Beto in the 26th and a Jeremy Mathieu blast 21 minutes from time put Valencia 3-0 ahead on the night and 3-2 ahead overall.

They were just over a minute away from going through to the final when Federico Fazio flicked on a long throw and Cameroon midfielder Mbia rose to crash a header into the net and silence the Valencia fans packed into the Mestalla.

It was a triumph for Sevilla coach Unai Emery, who never completely won over the Valencia fans when he was in charge there from 2008 to 2012, and he celebrated Mbia’s goal wildly on the side of the pitch.

Valencia made an energetic start in front of their vociferous supporters while Sevilla had clearly opted to play a more patient game and wait for a chance on the break.

The home side forced themselves back into the tie when Feghouli received the ball inside the area and cut inside his marker and his left-foot strike took a slight deflection off a defender on its way into the net.

Valencia were level on aggregate in the 26th minute when Jonas made the most of slack marking to send a powerful header towards goal from a Juan Bernat centre.

Beto could only palm the ball onto the underside of the crossbar and then watch helplessly as it bounced off his back and into the net for what UEFA ruled was an own goal by the Sevilla goalkeeper.

The visitors managed to survive the early onslaught without conceding again and came close to a goal in the 36th when Jose Antonio Reyes met a clever Carlos Bacca backheel at the far post but his close-range effort was blocked superbly by Valencia keeper Diego Alves.

Both sides showed attacking intent in the early stages of the second half before defender Mathieu was quickest to react when the ball ran loose at a corner and the Frenchman left Beto no chance with a powerful shot.

Valencia were moments away from going through when Mbia struck to keep alive Sevilla’s chances of repeating their successes in Europe's second-tier club competition from 2006 and 2007, when it was known as the UEFA Cup.

Dogged Benfica

Benfica kept alive their dream of a first European trophy in 52 years after a goalless draw with Juventus in Turin.

The newly-crowned Portuguese champions will be hoping to win their first continental title since 1962’s European Cup triumph, since when they have lost seven finals, including last season’s Europa League showpiece to Chelsea.

Juventus failed to take advantage of their territorial superiority in the first half or the extra man after the sending-off and their exit is a blow for Italy, whose teams have struggled on the continent in recent years.


Juventus coach Antonio Conte was annoyed with the away side's defensive mindset and English referee Mark Clattenburg, who he felt should have given a penalty against Luisao for appearing to block Fernando Llorente's 65th-minute header with his hand.

“They're going through to the final, but I don't think they deserved it,” said an irritated Conte. “Tonight we saw that in football the best team doesn't always win,” Juve defender Leonardo Bonucci said.

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