Sevilla won their sixth Europa League, beating Inter Milan in the final by the odd goal of five. The victory moved the Spanish club three titles ahead of their nearest challengers and was just reward for one of their talismanic players, Ever Banega, who played his last game for the club in Cologne.
In a first half that can best be described as put-your-seatbelts-on-turbulent, Inter took the lead in the fifth minute after Romelu Lukaku converted a penalty he himself won, taking a hard challenge from Diego Carlos to go down in the box. The whole move itself was off a blistering counter attack, Inter exploiting Sevilla’s eager high line in those early stages of the game.
Sevilla hit back in the 13th minute with a well crafted move ending with Luuk de Jong heading them level. De Jong was Sevilla’s hero in their semifinal against Manchester United, and in the 33rd minute it looked like he had done it again, his expertly steered header off a Jesus Navas free kick (Navas’ second assist of the game) beyond Samir Handanović in Inter’s goal. But that lead barely lasted as long as the celebrations it sparked. Three minutes later, Inter were level via Diego Godin.
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A standard joke doing the rounds about the Europa league suggested that despite over a hundred teams competing in the second tier European competition, the final four were, almost always, a dark horse, Shakhtar Donetsk, the Premier League team having a bad season and, Sevilla. It made perfect sense then that the team that won the final was the one that truly loves this competition more than anyone else.
And that really is the truth of it. Sevilla don’t play the Europa League because they are resigned to it. They don’t play it because they aren’t good enough for the glitzier European Cup. They play it because they like to win it. And so it was.
It took a while, three quarters of the game to be precise, but Diego Carlos finally got his redemption with an overhead kick goal that sealed the game for Sevilla in the 74th minute. To close the narrative arc his shot even took a deflection off Lukaku before hitting the net.
Sevilla won the Sevilla Trophy. Julen Lopetegui, the man who has had the worst two years of his life -- almost immediately after his best -- had finally won his first trophy as a manager. Appropriately, he teared up at the final whistle and his players rushed to hoist him in the air. This was a club that knew how to win this trophy. They have now played six finals in the Europa League (previously the UEFA Cup). They have won six.
Manchester United captain Harry Maguire was detained in Mykonos, Greece, for assaulting police, the Greek state channel TV ERT has reported.
Maguire and two other British men were detained after the footballer assaulted officers who were breaking up a fight between two tourist groups.
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“The football player was verbally abusive to an officer and then hit him,” a police official said. “The three were resisting when brought to the Mykonos police station.”
United said the were “aware of an alleged incident” involving the England centre back and had established contact with him.
The club added that Maguire is "fully cooperating with the Greek authorities" after the "alleged incident".
Larsson to Assist Koeman
FC Barcelona coach Ronald Koeman has added former Sweden striker Henrik Larsson to his coaching staff as an assistant coach, along with Dutch coach Alfred Schreuder.
Larsson, 48, had a short yet impactful stint with Barcelona and played a significant role in the club’s comeback, when they beat Arsenal 2-1 to win the 2006 Champions League final.
As Koeman’s management structure is slowly beginning to take shape, in the background rumours about club captain Lionel Messi have gathered speed. According to latest reports, Messi has still not expressed his will to leave Barcelona even after meeting Koeman. Four major sports newspapers in Spain all unanimously devoted much of their front page to the Argentine’s future at the club.
Marca, Spain’s biggest-selling daily, said the Argentine told Koeman that he is more willing to leave than extend his stay. Reporting on the crisis surrounding the Argentine, Sam Marsden, Spanish newspaper Sport’s correspondent said that a lot of incidents that have taken place over the past few days seem to point towards the fact that this isn't just a pressure tactic but could actually be a reality.
"From what I have been told and what I have heard, I have always thought Messi wants to force this change [at boardroom level] and to get things moving in the right direction,” Marsden said on Sky Sports’ Transfer Talk podcast. “But over the last seven days, since the Bayern debacle, I have changed my mind and he could actually leave here. The club could have gone too far and maybe it is too late to make these changes.”
Nirmal Leads Sanitization Drive
Former India footballer Nirmal Chettri is leading a sanitation drive in his community days after he helped clean local football grounds. The 29-year old, from Melli in Sikkim, organised a three day sanitisation drive in his hometown calling it his “duty”.
"The current circumstances are challenging. I strongly feel that it is my duty to help the people around me in the best way possible," he told the AIFF website."I had the idea of organising a sanitisation drive in my village and discussed it with my friends and senior players. They all were enthusiastic and we decided to go ahead with it."
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The sanitation drive was done by FC Melli players and members between August 12 to 14. Founded by Nirmal FC Milli, was formed two years ago with the view of providing local footballers with some exposure.
Scheuer on Bayern vs Lyon
Bayern Munich women’s head coach, Jens Scheuer is looking forward to their Champions League game against defending champions Lyon in the quarterfinals, insisting that the Bavarians have ‘more to win than lose.’
“Lyon is the top favourite,” Scheuer said. “But we can live with that because that means we have more to win than to lose. For Lyon, that is different because they are expected to win. That is our chance. I know that we have quality and we have seen that in our preparations.
“On Saturday we will obviously need a little luck in the game but I am convinced that we will be able to keep the game tight. On game day we will have a little warm-up and then we are prepared for the big game. And, no kidding, I get goosebumps thinking about the game and I know that the players are feeling the same way,” she added.
Lyon have won four straight Champions League titles. Bayern have played and won three friendlies in preparation for the last eight tournament.
In yesterday’s quarterfinals, Wolfsburg hammered Glasgow City 9-1 in empathic fashion. The team they are due to face next, Barcelona Femeni narrowly edged out Spanish rivals Atletico Madrid 1-0 courtesy of an 80th minute goal by their French midfielder, Kheira Hamraoui. The two will face each other on August 25th in the first semifinal.
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