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Five of the most memorable Europa League finals

Since its rebranding as the UEFA Europa League, Europe’s secondary competition has seen some memorable finals in its short history. 

Formerly the UEFA Cup, European football’s governing body decided to revamp the competition ahead of the 2009/10 season and Atalanta and Bayer Leverkusen will this Wednesday meet in a battle to be crowned 2024 winners in Dublin.

 

Ahead of that clash, we’ve decided to take a look back at some of the best moments from the tournament’s final fixture.

Here are five of the most memorable Europa League finals.

Atletico Madrid 2-1 Fulham (2010)

The first edition of the Europa League saw Atletico Madrid meet surprise finalists Fulham in the final in Hamburg, Germany.

Atletico had long lived in the shadow of city rivals Real Madrid, with the 2010 final an opportunity to win their first European trophy since the 1962 UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup and a first major honour of any kind since a La Liga and Copa Del Rey double in 1996.

Roy Hodgson’s Fulham were playing just the second season of European football in the club’s history and shocked everyone by reaching the final, knocking out the UEFA Cup winners of the previous year, Shakhtar Donetsk, and Italian giants Juventus in a memorable run.

In a tight final, an Atletico side including the likes of David de Gea and Sergio Aguero took the lead when former Manchester United forward Diego Forlan fired past Mark Schwarzer after 32 minutes.

Fulham, showing the character that typified their run to the final, were level just five minutes later as Simon Davies turned in Zoltan Gera’s cross. Both sides also struck the woodwork, but with neither able to score the tie went into extra-time.

Atletico dominated the extra period but with time ticking on the final looked set to be settled by penalties. However, with just four minutes remaining Forlan broke Fulham’s hearts by hitting his second, firing home from Aguero’s cross to seal the trophy for the Spanish side.

Benfica 1-2 Chelsea (2013)

Having lifted the Champions League the previous season, Chelsea’s defence of the trophy ended in humiliating fashion after becoming the first holders to suffer a group-stage exit. The West Londoners dropped into the Europa League and bounced back by reaching the final.

Benfica were also a Champions League drop-out and reached their first European final in 23 years. The Portuguese side were looking to end a wretched run of European final appearances, having lost six in succession since winning back-to-back European Cups in 1961 and 1962.

Benfica’s route to the final included a quarter-final win over Newcastle, whilst Chelsea’s passage was more straightforward and contained wins over the likes of Rubin Kazan and Basel.

Chelsea’s Eden Hazard and John Terry both missed the occasion through injury, whilst Nemanja Matic, David Luiz and Ramires faced their former club in a European final.

It was the Premier League side who took the lead in Amsterdam, as Fernando Torres fired home to put the Blues on course for successive European trophies. Their lead lasted just eight minutes, however, after Oscar Cardozo equalised from the spot following a handball from Cesar Azpilicueta.

With a tight affair looking set for extra-time, Branislav Ivanovic made himself a hero after rising highest to meet Juan Mata’s corner. The Serbian’s looping header found the far corner in the third minute of stoppage time and sealed Chelsea’s first Europa League title in dramatic fashion.

Chelsea became only the fourth club, and first English, to win all three UEFA club competitions after adding the Europa League to their Champions League and UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup titles.

Dnipro 2-3 Sevilla (2015)

The joint-highest scoring final since the introduction of the Europa League saw Spanish side Sevilla outscore surprise finalists Dnipro of Ukraine in Warsaw, Poland.

Sevilla had previously won European football’s secondary competition in 2006, 2007 and 2014 and were looking to become the outright record holder for titles ahead of Liverpool, Inter Milan and Juventus.

In a topsy-turvy tie, Dnipro, who had beaten the likes of Ajax and Napoli to reach the final, took an early lead through former Blackburn Rovers forward Nikola Kalinic.

In an end-to-end game, Sevilla hit back and turned the game around with two goals in three minutes. Grzegorz Krychowiak equalised in the 28th minute before Colombian forward Carlos Bacca rounded the goalkeeper to put Sevilla ahead just moments later.

By half-time, Dnipro were level once more. Ruslan Rotan’s free-kick brought the teams level and saw a breathless first half come to an end.

A frenetic pace slowed in the second period, though with 17 minutes remaining Sevilla found their breakthrough. Vitolo found Bacca in space and Sevilla’s leading scorer fired home his second to win the final.

The win made it back-to-back titles for the Spanish side, whilst their captain Jose Antonio Reyes became the first player to win the competition four times, having also previously won the tournament with Atlético Madrid in 2010 and 2012.

Sevilla also became the first side to earn Champions League qualification from winning the tournament, after the rule was introduced ahead of the 2014/15 season.

Liverpool 1-3 Sevilla (2016)

Having replaced Brendan Rodgers at Liverpool in October of the previous year, Jurgen Klopp led Liverpool to their first European final in almost a decade as they met holders Sevilla in Basel, Switzerland.

Liverpool had endured a memorable run to the final, including a victory over fierce rivals Manchester United and a stunning comeback win against German side Borussia Dortmund in the last eight.

 

Sevilla were competing in their third successive final, having been victorious in both 2014 and 2015.

It was Klopp’s side who started the better, taking a half-time lead courtesy of Daniel Sturridge’s superb goal. Having been found by Philippe Coutinho, the England forward fired home a sensational strike with the outside of his left boot to put the Merseyside club in front.

The second half could barely have begun worse for the Reds however, with Kevin Gameiro equalising just 17 seconds after the interval. Liverpool full-back Alberto Moreno, a former Sevilla player, was largely blamed for his role in the goal.

Sevilla began to dominate and a slick move saw them ahead, as midfielder Coke curled home after a fine passing move. The Spanish side continued to push forward and shortly after Moreno was at fault again. The Spaniard left Coke completely unmarked at the far post and he netted his second goal to seal a third successive Europa League title for the club from Seville.

It was the second final defeat of Klopp’s debut season at Anfield, having also lost the League Cup on penalties to Manchester City.

Sevilla 3-2 Inter Milan (2020)

Sevilla confirmed their status as Europa League kings with a record-extending sixth title in 2020, as the Spanish side edged a thriller with Inter Milan in Cologne.

Romelu Lukaku opened the scoring for the Italian side after just five minutes from the penalty spot, extending an incredible personal record in the competition after scoring in his 11th consecutive Europa League appearance.

Sevilla hit back to level through Luuk de Jong’s header seven minutes later, before the Dutchman headed home his second goal of the final to put the Spaniards ahead for the first time.

The response from Inter was almost immediate, however, as Diego Godin nodded in an equaliser to make it four goals inside the opening 35 minutes.

The pace of the game slowed in the second period but there was still one final twist in the tale, the breakthrough coming after Diego Carlos’ acrobatic effort was diverted into his own goal by the unfortunate Lukaku.

Sevilla celebrated a sixth title and the first major trophy of manager Julen Lopetegui’s career, whilst Inter were beaten in their first final appearance in the competition for 22 years.

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