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    Liverpool 1-3 Sevilla Match Report

    Sevilla claimed the Europa League title for the third consecutive year after completing a stunning second-half comeback against three-time winners Liverpool. Daniel Sturridge had given the English side a deserved half-time lead, with a spectacular strike, but three goals after the break from the holders ensured a miserable journey home for both Liverpool and their fans.

    Jurgen Klopp's side had chances to put the game beyond their opponents during a dominant first half performance but a change in momentum occurred when Kevin Gameiro equalized within 17 seconds of the restart. Liverpool never recovered and two goals from Coke, midway through the second half, clinched the trophy for Sevilla for the fifth time in the past 11 seasons. The defeat ensures that there will be no European football for Liverpool to look forward to next season and Sevilla will take their position as Spain's fifth representative in the Champions League for 2016-17.

    Liverpool made 11 changes from the side that was held to a 1-1 draw by West Bromwich Albion on the final day of the Premier League season, with Divock Origi returning to the bench having missed the past month with an ankle injury. Klopp maintained the same starting XI to the one that drew 1-1 at home to Chelsea seven days earlier, but there was no room in the side for captain Jordan Henderson. Centre-back Adil Rami was the only player in the Sevilla line-up who kept his place following Saturday's 3-1 defeat at Athletico Bilbao, while former Blackburn and Stoke midfielder Steven N'Zonzi was named in midfield.

    It was Liverpool who began the match the stronger team and had chances to take the lead in the opening 10 minutes through Emre Can and Daniel Sturridge. German midfielder Can had an effort from 25 yards that forced David Soria into a diving save and Sturridge also came close when his back-post header from Nathaniel Clyne's cross was cleared off the line by Daniel Carrico. Sturridge later latched onto Adam Lallana's slide-rule pass but was thwarted by Soria from a tight angle, while Sevilla's best first half chance came when Kevin Gameiro's overhead kick landed a yard wide of Simon Mignolet's goal.

    Sevilla were unable to match Liverpool's high tempo and the English side began to suffocate their opponents with both their pressing game and intricate passing in the final third of the pitch. It seemed only a matter of time before The Reds would take the lead, albeit the stunning nature of Sturridge's goal after 35 minutes provident a jaw-dropping moment that will live long in the memory of Liverpool supporters. With much disguise and minimal back-lift, the England striker curled the ball with the outside of his left foot, from just inside the area, and he looked on as it flew past the sprawling Soria.

    The three-time UEFA Cup winners sensed the opportunity to put the match to bed before half-time but Adam Lallana, Dejan Lovren and Daniel Sturridge were all unable to capitalise on their dominance. Lallana had an effort blocked by Carrico, which was heading on target, while a stretching Sturridge was unable to turn the ball home from Nathaniel Clyne's pinpoint cross. Lovren thought he had scored minutes earlier, when he headed home James Milner's corner, but the celebrations were abruptly ended when it emerged that Sturridge was standing in an offside position and was deemed to be interfering with play.

    The final's biggest turning point came early in the second half when Sevilla put together a stunning move that resulted in an equalizer within 17 seconds of the restart through Gameiro. Mariano Ferreira Filho made a surging run forward on the right-wing, weaving his way past Philippe Coutinho and Alberto Moreno before sliding the ball across the six-yard box for Gameiro to tap home from four yards. It was the French forward's 29th goal of the campaign and his eighth goal in this season's Europa League, putting him one behind Cedric Bakambu of Villarreal and two adrift of Athletico Bilboa's Aritz Aduriz.

    The equalizer sparked a shift of power in the final and Unai Emery's side had two further chances to take the lead before the hour-mark. Gameiro should have scored his second goal of the night when he latched onto Ever Banega's defence-splitting pass but as the 29-year-old looked set to shoot, he was denied by a last-ditch covering challenge from Kolo Toure. The Frenchman also found himself unmarked from Sergio Escudero's headed flick-on but was denied a certain goal courtesy of a stunning reaction-save by Simon Mignolet from eight yards.

    Sevilla did finally take a deserved lead on 64 minutes when Coke steered the ball home nonchalantly from just outside the penalty area, beating the belated dive of Mignolet. Vitolo had played a one-two with Banego midway inside the Liverpool half before the Spaniard's run was ended when Coke nipped in with a first-time effort that found its way into the bottom right-hand corner. They could have even extended their lead five minutes later when Grzegorz Krychowiak looked like getting on the end of a Sevilla free-kick but, under pressure by substitute Divock Origi, he headed harmlessly wide.

    Coke's second goal of the game, which effectively put the match beyond Liverpool's reach with 20 minutes left, was not long in coming but it arrived in controversial circumstances. Although Coke was standing in an offside position when he fired past Mignolet from eight yards, the ball had arrived to him via a touch from Philippe Coutinho. Confusion ensued when the referee's assistant initially raised his flag but the goal was allowed to stand amid vociferous Liverpool protests, with Jurgen Klopp running down the touchline to remonstrate with the linesman.

    Liverpool were stunned into life for the final 10 minutes but Philippe Coutinho and Daniel Sturridge were unable to set up a grandstand finish when they failed to convert half-chances. The Brazilian fired the ball over the bar left-footed from 20 yards, while Sturridge's speculative strike from even greater distance was comfortable saved by David Soria. It was in fact Sevilla who ended the match the stronger team and both Coke and Vitolo had efforts on the edge of the penalty area that went harmlessly wide before they could finally celebrate.

    For Liverpool, it was a disappointing way to end a season that had promised so much but ultimately ended with defeat in two cup competitions and their worst league position for four years. It was a particularly disappointing night for Jurgen Klopp, who has now lost in five consecutive finals for Borussia Dortmund and Liverpool and will be unable to bring European football to Anfield next season. It was only the Reds' fourth defeat in a European final after losses to Borussia Dortmund in the 1966 Cup Winners' Cup, Juventus in the 1985 European Cup and AC Milan in the 2007 Champions League.

    The prospect of no European football next season may turn out to be a blessing in disguise for Klopp as there will be far less midweek football to negotiate in 2016-17. Liverpool will therefore be able to fully focus on their Premier League campaign and can take inspiration from 2014, when they had failed to qualify for Europe but came closest to winning the Premier League since its inception in 1992. It remains to be seen, however, whether Klopp's recruitment plans in the summer will be affected by the club's failure to qualify for the Champions League and whether he will be able to keep the likes of Philippe Coutinho and Daniel Sturridge, amid reported interest from Barcelona and PSG respectively.

    Although Liverpool had dominated the first half, their failure to score the second goal when they were on top in the match ultimately proved costly. Jurgen Klopp's side never recovered from the shock of conceding just after half-time and they were, thereafter, unable to play with the same level of intensity. Amid wave after wave of Sevilla attacks and some suspect defending, Liverpool caved in under relentless pressure and the Spanish side were able to show the kind of ruthless streak in the final third of the pitch that The Reds had been lacking in the first half.

    It was another momentous day in the history of Sevilla and their manager Unai Emery, who has now won the trophy for three years in a row. Their objectives for next season will be to replicate their form from the Europa League into the Champions League, where they were knocked out in the group stages this campaign, and to improve on their seventh-place finish in La Liga. Their more immediate ambitions will be to complete a Cup double on Sunday when they play Spanish Champions Barcelona in the final of the Copa Del Rey.
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    Item Reviewed: Liverpool 1-3 Sevilla Match Report Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Richard Tufft
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