A memorable night in Basel saw Sevilla claim a third straight Europa League trophy after a dramatic second half come back to thump Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool 3-1, at the St. Jakob-Park stadium, Switzerland.
Unai Emery’s men also became the first team to win a major European competition three years in a row since Bayern Munich won the European Cup three times between 1974 and 1976.
A remarkable turnaround saw Kevin Gameiro cancel out Daniel Sturridge’s first half strike before a brace from Coke sealed Sevilla’s success.
Things seemed to be going on well for the Reds as they completely dominated the first half and were rewarded after Daniel Sturridge put them ahead with a beautifully placed strike and looked on course to secure the prize of Champions League football.
However, Unai Emery’s team hit back with three goals in 25 minutes, the first coming just 17 seconds after the interval, as the Reds were exposed defensively for Gameiro to level proceedings, before Coke grabbed two in the space of six minutes to end Liverpool’s dream of a return to European football.
There was controversy over Coke’s second goal on 70 minutes with Liverpool players complaining bitterly that the Sevilla captain was offside, however replays showed he officials made the right decision.
The victory marks Sevilla’s fifth Europa League success in 11 years and ensures it will qualify for next season’s Champions League, and also highlighted why the Spanish side have become masters of Europe’s second-tier competition.
“At Sevilla we love this competition and we love it so much and we want it so much that we won it,” Emery said. “It is our competition and we underlined that once again.”
Meanwhile, the defeat for Liverpool means Klopp has now experienced five straight losses in major finals and pointed to a lack of belief in his players as reason for their poor second half showing.
“The start I was not happy with, but we scored a wonderful goal. What happened after (Sevilla’s equalizer) is the problem,” he said.
“We lost faith completely in our style of play. We lost shape and we were nervous in defense. That shows our development is not as good as hoped.
“The players are still young, we will use this experience today and someday everyone will say Basel was a decisive moment for Liverpool FC,” the German added.
A Europa League that promised so much for Liverpool fans ended in disappointment, the players will now have to look back and learn from their woes as they let Champions League football slip from their hands.