Sevilla is on course for a historic third Europa League title in consecutive seasons after beating Shakhtar Donetsk 5-3 on aggregate. Liverpool will face them after defeating Villareal 3-0 at Anfield.
The Europa League holders swept aside Shakhtar Donetsk 3-1 at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan Stadium, and Liverpool prevented an all-Spanish final when they cleaned the clock of Villareal at Anfield 3-0.
Sevilla faced Donetsk in the second leg with two away goals in reserve after coming away from Ukraine in the first leg with a 2-2 draw. They were 3-2 up in the first 10-minutes when Kevin Gameiro scored his second goal of the tie, and the former Arsenal forward Eduardo made things interesting when he equalised just before half time.
The second half had barely grown a whisker when Gameiro grabbed his second goal of the game to put Sevilla 4-3 ahead on aggregate, and Mariano Ferreira Filho made sure Spain would have three representatives in the two principal European finals with a 25-yard screamer in the 59th minute.
If anyone can stop Sevilla in their tracks, it’s Liverpool. Anfield was a cauldron. Jurgen Klopp was doing the stirring. Daniel Sturridge was invited to show what he could do in Europe after being pushed aside in favour of Divock Origi and Roberto Firmino and repaid Klopp’s faith in him with a hand in all three goals.
The game ran at a frenetic pace with both sides kicking lumps out of each other. It was amazing to see after having to sit through the heartless display by Man City at the Bernabeu last night.
Villareal had the first two clear chances, before a superb break from the back from Emre Can saw him find Nathaniel Clyne on the far right. The full-back sent the ball across the box, and the unfortunately named Alphonse Areola palmed the ball into the path of Firmino. The Brazilian striker sent the ball back across the six-yard box. An off-balance Daniel Sturridge nudged it goalwards, it hit the shins of Bruno and flew into the back of the net.
Firmino and Sturridge connected once again for the second goal in the 62nd minute. The ball came to the Brazilian at the edge of the box, and he poked it through for Sturridge at the face of the six-yard area. The England man composed himself, shot between the keeper’s legs and then watched agonizingly as the ball hit the post before nestling into the bottom corner.
Liverpool, who had lost the first leg by a goal to nil, now had the lead, but Villareal only needed a single goal to go through on away goals. Liverpool’s night was made a lot easier after Victor Ruiz was sent off for a second bookable offence, and Liverpool got the cushion the fans so desperately craved when Firmino crossed the ball into the box after a quick run down the left; Sturridge’s shot squirmed to Adam Lallana standing three yards from goal, and he flicked it past Areola before wheeling away in celebration.
It’s Liverpool’s 12th European final and the first since beating AC Milan to lift the Champions League in that incredible 2007 final. Only Real Madrid, Barcelona, and AC Milan have featured in more. They also become the first foreign team to eliminate a Spanish side in the knockout stages of either the Champions League or the Europa League proving how dominant La Liga has become in world football.
Liverpool 3 v 0 Villareal (3-1 agg)
Sevilla 3 v 1 Shakhtar Donetsk (5-3 agg)
Liverpool is currently the bookies favourites at 4/6.
Sevilla is 11/10.
Odds courtesy of Oddshark.com.