Llorente deals Juve blow to earn Sevilla third place

Sevilla 1-0 Juventus
Fernando Llorente scored to lift Sevilla into the UEFA Europa League position and help knock his old club off top spot in Group D.

Highlights: Sevilla 1-0 Juventus
  • Taking on his former team, Fernando Llorente heads winner on 65 minutes
  • Sevilla grateful for glaring first-half miss from ex-Real Madrid man Álvaro Morata
  • Late Gladbach collapse at Man. City means Sevilla will defend Europa League title
  • The round of 16 draw takes place at 12.00CET on Monday

Sevilla brought a happy ending to their UEFA Champions League campaign, their win over Juventus, combined with Mönchengladbach's 4-2 reverse at Manchester City, earning a spring defence of their UEFA Europa League title.

In a match packed with chances, with Paulo Dybala a constant threat and Álvaro Morata wasting openings in both halves, Sevilla emerged victorious – Fernando Llorente's towering header clinching a result that put the UEFA Europa League holders in third place in Group D and back into the competition that has brought them four trophies in ten seasons.

Desperate to finish a disappointing campaign on a high, Sevilla's over-eagerness could have cost them dear early on, a slick-looking Juventus threatening via Morata twice, Dybala and Stefano Sturaro in the first 15 minutes.

Éver Banega vies with Paul Pogba
Éver Banega vies with Paul Pogba©AFP/Getty Images

And though Llorente then enjoyed a glorious chance to net against his former employers, his intentions read well by Gianluigi Buffon, the next opportunity – and clearest of the half – fell to Morata on 25 minutes, the Spain striker somehow poking wide after a lay-off by the excellent Dybala.

Again Sevilla roared back through 'El León' Llorente, a header well saved by Buffon, though soon Dybala was back menacing the Hispalenses' goal – his curling free-kick requiring Sergio Rico to fling himself at full stretch.

The second period began in a similar fashion, with blood and thunder aplenty from the hosts yet recurring danger from Juve. However with the trickery of Yevhen Konoplyanka to the fore, Sevilla continued to believe, a faith rewarded past the hour-mark when the Ukraine winger's superb corner was nodded home by Llorente.

Now deciding to stick rather than twist – replacing Konoplyanka with Michael Krohn-Dehli – Unai Emery's ploy paid off as the Andalusians clung onto their slim advantage. Riding their luck when Dybala's late drive rattled the crossbar and Morata was denied in stoppage time one-on-one, Sevilla were handed a yearned-for UEFA Europa League berth by Mönchengladbach's late collapse at Man. City.

Fernando Llorente
Fernando Llorente©AFP/Getty Images

Key player: Fernando Llorente
Determined to prove himself as Sevilla's first-choice striker, and against his former club to boot, Llorente led the line with aplomb – twice testing Buffon in the first period and netting the only goal with a trademark header.

Konoplyanka quality decisive
Enjoying greater freedom to run at the Juve defence after the interval, Konoplyanka's twinkling feet and deft right foot were the key that unlocked Juventus's back line – the winger winning then supplying the corner for Llorente's clincher.

Dybala a special talent
Desperately unlucky to be on the losing side, the Argentinian front man tried everything in a bid to make a breakthrough, being repelled several times by Rico and, late on, by the crossbar. Possessing speed, strength and skill, this boy is going places.

Unai Emery gives the thumbs up
Unai Emery gives the thumbs up©AFP/Getty Images

Unai Emery, Sevilla coach
We are excited and motivated about playing in the Europa League, where we feel quite comfortable. We had a difficult group with Manchester City, Juventus and Borussia, and this match was hard but we knew how to play it. It was a very competitive game and the fans helped a lot, so we are delighted.

We didn't reach the level of Juve and Man. City, so we have to keep working in the Europa League. We also have to climb the Liga table. We have to enjoy the campaign ahead – every moment, every match in the Europa League will be played to the best of our ability and we want to win every game from now on.

Massimiliano Allegri, Juventus coach
Qualifying from this group is a success. We played well and the team grew up, we have youngsters who I am sure will get further experience at European level. You need luck in the Champions League and a different Champions League starts in March – physical condition will be very important from now on.

It's been a difficult group stage and I'm very happy with my players. I would like Fernando Llorente to have been sick so he couldn't score, but as we have lost it's better that Fernando scored. He's a great lad and I wish him all the best for the future.

©AFP/Getty Images
©AFP/Getty Images
©AFP/Getty Images