Since it’s rebranding as the UEFA Europa League, Europe’s secondary competition has already 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 we’ve decided to take a look back at some of the tournament’s showpiece’s best moments from seasons gone by.
Here are five of the most memorable Europa League finals…
Atletico Madrid 2-1 Fulham (AET) – 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 a first European trophy since the 1962 Cup Winner’s 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 Scharwzer after 32 minutes.
Fulham, showing the character that typified their run to the final, were level just five minutes later, when Welsh international Simon Davies turned in Zoltan Gera’s cross. Both side’s also struck the woodwork through the 90 minutes 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 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 by becoming the first holders to suffer a group stage exit and they dropped into the Europa League before proceeding to the final.
Benfica were also Champions League drop-outs, and reached their first European final for 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 including a quarter-final win over Newcastle United, whilst Chelsea’s was more straightforward incorporating 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 London side who took the lead Ajax’s then-Amsterdam Arena, Fernando Torres firing home after an hour as Chelsea look to win back-to-back European trophies. Their lead lasted just eight minutes, Cesar Azpilicueta’s handball allowing Oscar Cardozo to equalise from the spot.
With a tight affair looking set for extra-time, Branislav Ivanovic rose highest to meet Juan Mata’s corner with a looping header in the third minute of stoppage time to seal the Blues first Europa league title.
Chelsea became only the fourth club, and first English, to win all three UEFA club adding to their Champions League and the now defunct Cup Winners’ Cup titles.
Dnipro 2-3 Sevilla – 2015
The highest scoring final since the introduction of the Europa League saw Spanish side Sevilla edge 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 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 the seventh minute.
Sevilla hit back and took the lead with two goals in three minutes. First, midfielder Grzegorz Krychowiak equalised in the 28th minute before Colombian Carlos Bacca rounded the goalkeeper to put Sevilla ahead moments later.
By half-time, Dnipro were level, Ruslan Rotan scoring from a free-kick to see tie evenly poised at the interval.
A frenetic pace slowed in the second period, though with 17 minutes remaining Sevilla found their breakthrough, Vitolo finding Bacca who 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 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 though, 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. Midfielder Coke curling 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 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.
Ajax 0-2 Manchester United, 2017
Ajax met Manchester United in the 2017 edition of the Europa League final, in a meeting of two club’s steeped in continental tradition.
United had never previously reached the final of Europe’s secondary competition, whilst Ajax were playing their second showpiece having won the 1992 UEFA Cup.
The final was hosted at the Friends Arena in Stockholm, Sweden, and it was United who dominated their youthful opponents. Paul Pogba, signed for a club-record fee the previous summer, opened the scoring with a deflected strike from just outside the area after 18 minutes.
Pogba’s goal ensured a 1-0 half-time lead, however, moments into the second period their advantage was doubled. Henrikh Mkhitaryan, another addition the previous summer, fired home from close range in the 48th minute to put Jose Mourinho’s side in charge and seal the trophy.
Victory was Mourinho’s second in the competition, having previously won the 2003 UEFA Cup with Porto, and the second of his debut season at Old Trafford after League Cup success.
The win also saw Wayne Rooney and Michael Carrick complete a clean-sweep of major honours, having previously won the Premier League, FA Cup, League Cup and Champions League during glittering careers at the club.