By Antonio Gutierrez
International Sports Desk, Aug 16 (efe-epa).- Sevilla on Sunday earned a berth at its sixth Europa League final, defeating Manchester United 2-1 in a hard-fought semi-final match in Cologne, Germany.
The Spanish team will now go up against the winner of the league’s other semi-final match, when Ukraine’s Shakhtar Donetsk faces off against Italy’s Inter Milano on Monday.
It was a goal by Holland’s Luuk de Jong 12 minutes before the end of regulation time that broke the 1-1 tie for the Spanish squad, after United had gotten on the board first in the 9th minute on a tally scored on a penalty kick by Portugal’s Bruno Fernandes after which Sevilla’s Suso Fernandez tied things up in the 26th minute.
Fernandes has scored on every one the 14 penalty kicks he has taken in all competitions this season, with six of them coming for Sporting Lisbon.
It was the third semi-final that Man United had lost so far this season, despite going out ahead after Diego Carlos fouled Marcus Rashford, thus providing the Britons with a penalty kick goal.
The equalizer came when former Liverpool forward Suso made his shot past goaltender David de Gea, thus tying things up for the break.
After the intermission, United fumbled a spate of good chances, notably Anthony Martial’s multiple attempts, with the netminder for Julen Lopetegui’s boys, Yassine Bounou, doing yeoman’s work to keep the score on the level.
Jesus Navas, however, fired a well-timed and precise 78th-minute crossing shot to De Jong, who easily found the twine – due, in large part, to a horribly executed position switcheroo by Lindelof and Aaron Wan-Bissaka – thus denying Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side their much hoped for trip to the final.
The Spanish side is now unbeaten in 20 games, with only Bayern Munich, Paris St. Germain and Real Madrid in Europe’s top five leagues this season to have sustained themselves that long.
This was the first Europa League semi-final played at the Cologne stadium before empty stands due to the coronavirus sports semi-lockdown. Before the match commenced, the players of both squads and the officials on the pitch took a knee to show their solidarity against racial discrimination.
Sevilla: Bono; Jesus Navas, Kounde, Diego Carlos, Reguilon; Fernando, Joan Jordan (Gudelj, m.87); Ocampos (Munir, m.56), Ever Banega, Suso (Franco Vazquez, m.75); and En-Nesyri (De Jong, m.56).
Manchester United: De Gea; Wan-Bissaka (Fosu-Mensah, m.88), Lindelof, Maguire, Williams (James, m.87); Fred; Greenwood (Odion Ighalo, m.93), Bruno Fernandes, Pogba, Rashford (Mata, m.87); and Martial.
Referee: Felix Brych of Germany, who showed yellow cards to United’s Brandon Williams (m.17), Rashford (m.66) and Maguire (m.86) and to Sevilla’s Diego Carlos (m.21) and Munir (m.86).