Sevilla clinched their seventh Europa League title after beating AS Roma in a penalty shoot (4-1) on Thursday at the Puskas Arena in Budapest, Hungary. Pauly Dybala’s goal in the 35th minute gave Jose Mourinho’s Roma the lead before Gianluca Mancini’s own goal (55’) leveled the scores. It was a tense game with many altercations between the two sides and a few controversial moments.
Gonzalo Montiel, who scored the decisive penalty in the 2022 World Cup final, repeated the trick in this match. However, it wasn’t as straightforward as the penalty from the World Cup final a few months ago. He got a second attempt at it despite missing his first penalty because VAR noticed encroachment from Roma keeper Rui Patricio in the build-up to his first attempt.
This was a difficult season for Sevilla prior to the big win on Thursday. Jose Luis Mendilibar was the third manager to take charge of the club and only joined the club in March. They finished the league season in 11th place and were playing Europa League football only because they were knocked out of the Champions League group stage.
Of course, Montiel wasn’t the only hero of this Europa League campaign. Moroccan international Youssef En-Neysri’s four goals in the knockout stages were vital. En-Neysri earns €3,000,000 annually, so his four goals were worth €750,000 to Sevilla. En-Neysri isn’t just a top goalscorer; he helps the team defend from the front with his relentless pressing. Sevilla’s players were questioned all season due to their league form, but En-Neysri’s commitment to the team couldn’t be questioned this season.
Eric Lamela also had a memorable campaign and was the team’s other top contributor. Lamela earns €3,300,000 annually, so his two assists were worth €1,650,000. Lamela also registered two goals. The wily Argentinian has never been the most consistent player due to injuries – this goes back to his days at Roma, the club where he made his name. His end product has never been good enough for a wide forward, but he brings a lot of guile and cunning into the teams he plays for, which is a beneficial quality in big games.
Another player whose contributions haven’t gone unnoticed is goalkeeper Yassine Bounou. The Moroccan international has had a memorable season. He was exceptional in the World Cup and stepped up in the penalty shootout on Thursday with two saves. Bounou earns €2,700,000 annually, and his two clean sheets in the campaign were worth €1,350,000. Bounou isn’t just a top shot-stopper – he’s also fantastic with his feet and in the air, which allows his teammates to compose themselves.
A final word of appreciation must go to the manager Jose Luis Mendilibar, who took over the club during a difficult period. This was the finest achievement of his career and his first honor at the highest level. His calmness on the touchline reverberated through the club and helped them regain their mojo. It doesn’t look like anyone is going to catch up with Sevilla anytime soon as far as Europa Leagues are concerned.