Sevilla Extends Benfica Curse With Shootout Win in Europa LeagueAlex Duff
Sevilla defeated Benfica in a penalty shootout to win soccer’s Europa League for a third time in eight years and extend a curse placed on the Portuguese team 52 years ago by a former coach.
Sevilla goalkeeper Beto made two saves last night to help the Spanish team win the shootout 4-2 after neither side managed a goal during 120 minutes of play at Juventus stadium in Turin.
Benfica, beaten by Chelsea in last year’s title match, has now lost eight straight European finals since 1962. After the Lisbon team beat Real Madrid 5-3 to win the European Cup that year, it fired Hungarian coach Bela Guttmann, who said the team wouldn’t win another elite European trophy for 100 years.
Sevilla also won the Europa League -- formerly known as the UEFA Cup -- in 2006 and 2007, and joins Liverpool, Inter Milan and Juventus as three-time winners of European soccer’s second-tier competition.
Sevilla, which is fifth in Spain’s La Liga standings with one round of matches remaining, qualified for the Europa League final with a headed goal by Stephane Mbia in the 94th minute of its semifinal against Valencia.
Last night’s result ensures both major European tournaments will be won by Spanish teams this year. The May 24 Champions League final in Lisbon will be contested by Madrid rivals Atletico and record nine-time champion Real.
Since 1962, Benfica has lost two European Cup finals against AC Milan and was also defeated by Inter, Manchester United and PSV Eindhoven. In addition to Chelsea in 2013, it also lost in the final of the second-tier competition to Anderlecht 30 years earlier.
Benfica won the Portuguese League last month, ending a three-year streak by Porto. It claimed the League Cup on May 7 and plays in the Portuguese Cup final May 18.