The Europa League trophy is on the line in Cologne, Germany, where Inter Milan and Sevilla are battling for UEFA’s second-most prestigious title–and a wild battle has broken out.
Inter and Sevilla traded two goals apiece in a breakneck first half, with Romelu Lukaku’s penalty, Luuk de Jong’s double and Diego Godin’s header making it 2-2 after just 35 minutes.
Neither Inter nor Sevilla is worrying about needing to win to secure a place in next season’s Champions League after both took care of that through their domestic league finishes (Inter second in Serie A, Sevilla fourth in La Liga). The glory that comes with a cup is up for grabs, though, with Sevilla looking to pad to its all-time record of five Europa League titles.
Inter, which won the UEFA Cup (the competition’s previous incarnation) in 1991, 1994 and 1998, can inch closer to Sevilla’s total with a victory on Friday. Led by Romelu Lukaku, who has scored in a record 10 straight Europa League contests, and Lautaro Martinez, Inter has scored multiple goals in 14 of 17 matches in all competitions since the restart, going 11-1-5 in that time.
Sevilla, meanwhile, is unbeaten since it resumed play, going 9-0-5 in all competitions and getting it done defensively. Julen Lopetegui’s side has conceded just six goals in those 14 matches, and it had shut out five straight opponents prior to Bruno Fernandes’s penalty kick for Manchester United in the semifinals.
Lukaku didn’t take long to make an impact, drawing a penalty and converting it after three minute to give Inter the early lead.
Sevilla pulled even soon after on a fantastic diving header from Luuk de Jong. Jesus Navas rifled in a cross from the right, and the Dutch forward obliged, beating Samir Handanovic to make it 1-1.
Inter had a shout for second penalty in the 16th minute, when Diego Carlos, the defender who committed the foul on Lukaku, appeared to extend his arm to block a ball in the Sevilla box. It went unwhistled, though, despite Inter players pleading for the call.
De Jong’s second goal of the day gave Sevilla the lead, and it came on another header. Ever Banega’s free kick to the left side of the box picked out De Jong, who looped his header into the far netting to make it 2-1 in the 33rd minute.
The lead lasted for a little more than two minutes. Diego Godin, who also scored for Atletico Madrid in the 2014 Champions League final, headed in from an Inter free kick from Marcelo Brozovic on the other end, with the Uruguayan veteran bringing the match level at 2-2 in the 35th minute.
The pace was slightly more subdued after halftime, with the chances a bit less plentiful. Ashley Young looked to give Inter the lead in sensational fashion in the 58th minute, but his curling shot from long range didn’t have enough dip and flew just over the crossbar.
Stay tuned here for live updates and highlights of goals and key plays from throughout the match (refresh for most recent updates).
Here are the lineups for both teams:
Both sides will enjoy an offseason break ahead of the new season. La Liga is slated to begin Sept. 12, while Serie A will begin a week later, on Sept. 19.