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Lamela heads Sevilla past Juventus into Europa League final

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SEVILLE: Erik Lamela propelled Europa League specialists Sevilla into the final once again with a 2-1 victory over Juventus on Thursday, sealing a 3-2 aggregate triumph in a gripping clash.

Lamela headed home in extra-time to complete an impressive comeback for the record six-time winners of the competition, who will face Jose Mourinho’s Roma in Budapest on May 31 after they edged past Bayer Leverkusen.

Dusan Vlahovic fired visitors Juventus ahead in the second half, two minutes after coming on as a substitute, but Suso smashed home from outside the area to take the game to extra-time.

Lamela connected perfectly with Bryan Gil’s cross in the 95th minute to delight the Ramon Sanchez-Pizjuan, and Sevilla held on to reach the final for the first time since 2020.

“A lot of things went through my head, good moments, bad moments. It was a unique moment,” Lamela told Movistar.

“Now we are a step away, it’s a great opportunity. It’s a night I will remember forever, it’s something incredible to play here, in front of all these fans.”

Juventus failed to set up an all-Italian final against Roma, but Italy still has with one representative in each of the three European finals.

Inter Milan reached the Champions League showdown against Manchester City by seeing off rivals AC Milan on Tuesday, while on Thursday Fiorentina beat Basel to reach the Conference League final where they will face West Ham.

Defeat is concerning for Juventus, who are second in Serie A but braced for a potential points deduction which could knock them out of the top four. Winning the Europa League would have been an alternative route to Champions League qualification.

Massimiliano Allegri’s side, without the injured Paul Pogba, were significantly better than in the first leg but fell short.

“You have to put them in the back of the net when you have the chances,” Allegri said.

“The boys played a good game, but it was a European semi-final, we had to give a little more.”

He said his young Juventus side paid the price for their lack of experience compared to Sevilla.

“It’s a team that lacks experience at international level, these are physical matches, which require a lot,” he added.

Sevilla, who dominated in Turin but were pegged back at the death in the 1-1 draw, shaded the first half but Juventus threatened on the counter.

Juventus goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny produced a superb save to claw out a Lucas Ocampos header at his near post.

At the other end his counterpart Yassine Bounou produced an equally strong fingertip stop to tip a Moise Kean effort onto the post.

Sevilla were fuming before half-time when Juan Cuadrado sliced down Oliver Torres and no penalty was awarded by VAR, despite replays indicating the foul began in the area.

Gleison Bremer’s header scraped the post as the Italians pushed harder to break the deadlock in the second half.

Substitute Vlahovic made Juventus’ pressure count as he burst away from two Sevilla defenders and dinked the ball past Bounou.

– Sevilla spirit –

However, Sevilla substitute Suso levelled from outside the area, carving out some space before launching a rocket into the top corner.

Jose Luis Mendilibar’s team, who saw off Manchester United in the quarter-finals, showed their desire to again succeed in a competition which they have dominated in the past decade, with four triumphs in the previous nine editions.

Youssef En-Nesyri, who struck for Sevilla in the first leg, was denied by Szczesny in the 90th minute, stretching to tip his header over.

However the Polish goalkeeper could not keep Lamela’s header out, with the Argentine midfielder nodding home Bryan Gil’s cross in the fifth minute of extra-time.

Marcos Acuna was sent off for Sevilla after 115 minutes, leaving the hosts hanging on, but they dug deep to extend their Europa League legend and book their ticket to Budapest.

“Being with your childhood team, living each game and another final now, is incredible, and you have to enjoy it,” said veteran Sevilla defender Jesus Navas.

“The team was impressive, we gave everything, and the fans, they deserve everything.”

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