Appreciating Unai Emery’s ridiculous Europa League record

Unai Emery will be hoping to continue his incredible record in the Europa League when Villarreal face Manchester United on Wednesday evening, the Spanish side contesting their first ever European final.

Taking charge of the ‘Yellow Submarine’ is a man well versed in reaching the latter stages of this particular competition however, with Emery developing a reputation as the ultimate Europa League specialist as he prepares for his fifth final in Gdansk.

Villarreal are the third side that Emery has guided to the Europa League final and ahead of his latest attempt to win the trophy we’ve decided to look back at his previous visits to the showpiece.

Sevilla 0-0 Benfica (Sevilla win 4-2 on penalties) – 2013/14

Emery reached the final for the first time after guiding Sevilla to the showpiece in 2013/14, the Spanish side facing Benfica at the Juventus Stadium in Turin.

Sevilla had overturned first leg defeats to eliminate Real Betis and Porto in the knockout stages, before beating compatriots Valencia over two legs in the semi-finals to book a final meeting with a Benfica side through to their second successive showpiece.

Emery’s side had only qualified for the tournament following Malaga’s suspension and Rayo Vallecano’s denial of a UEFA licence, though ended the season as Europa League winners following a shoot-out success.

The final itself proved a cagey affair with chances at a premium, 120 minutes of action passing without a breakthrough before the lottery of a penalty shoot-out.

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Sevilla scored each of their four spot-kicks with goalkeeper Beto saving from Oscar Cardozo and Rodrigo, securing a third Europa League title for the Spaniards who moved level with Juventus, Inter Milan and Liverpool for most wins in the competition.

Sevilla 3-2 Dnipro – 2014/15

The holders returned to the final the following season after reaching the showpiece in impressive fashion, beating Borussia Monchengladbach, Villarreal, Zenit St. Petersburg and Fiorentina over two legs.

Sevilla faced surprise package Dnipro in the final, the Ukrainians having upset the likes of Ajax and Napoli on their way to Warsaw.

It was Sevilla and Emery who claimed a record fourth Europa League title following a thrilling final clash, the momentum of the tie swinging both ways as the two sides exchanged five goals in an enthralling encounter.

Dnipro took an early lead through former Blackburn forward Nikola Kalinic after just seven minutes, before quick-fire goals from Grzegorz Krychowiak and Carlos Bacca turned the final around and put the Spaniards ahead.

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Ruslan Rotan’s free-kick levelled the scores once more, before Bacca proved the hero with his second of the evening, securing Sevilla a place in the Champions League and ensuring the Spanish side became the first team to defend the trophy since its rebranding in 2009.

Sevilla 3-1 Liverpool – 2015/16

Emery guided the Andalusians to a hat-trick of Europa League titles during the 2015/16 season, as Sevilla overturned a half-time deficit to beat Liverpool and win a third trophy in succession.

Liverpool had been buoyed by Jurgen Klopp’s mid-season arrival as manager and were seeking both major silverware and Champions League qualification, the Reds getting off to the perfect start as Daniel Sturridge’s brilliant outside-of-the-foot finish provided the Premier League side with a half-time lead.

Klopp’s side were rocked just 17 seconds after the restart, however, as Kevin Gameiro turned in Mariano Ferreira’s cross to bring the holders level.

Sevilla dominated the second half and took the lead through Coke’s crisp finish, before the midfielder put the result beyond doubt with a second to enhance Emery’s reputation as a Europa League specialist.

Chelsea 4-1 Arsenal – 2018/19

Emery was appointed as Arsenal manager following the departure of club great Arsene Wenger, having enjoyed a brief spell at Paris Saint-Germain upon leaving Sevilla following the third of those Europa League triumphs.

His first season with the Gunners saw him once again make an impression on Europe’s secondary competition, leading the north London side to an all-Premier League meeting with Chelsea in Baku, the first ever final meeting between two teams from the same city.

Emery was unable to repeat his previous exploits as Arsenal crashed to a comprehensive defeat however, Eden Hazard in sparkling form on his final appearance for Chelsea before moving to Real Madrid.

The Belgium international scored twice in the second half to add to goals from former Arsenal forward Olivier Giroud and Pedro, with Alex Iwobi’s effort little consolation as Emery tasted defeat in the Europa League final for the first time.

Read – Six of the best games from the 2020/21 Premier League season

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