"The Europa League is Sevilla's competition," said Vitolo after a 1-0 win against Juventus opened the way for his side to win the competition for a third successive season.
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For Sevilla, the prospects had looked bleak. Out of the hunt for a place in the UEFA Champions League round of 16 and bottom of Group D, Los Hispalenses needed to beat Juventus – and hope Mönchengladbach failed to win at Manchester City – to clinch third place and a spot in the UEFA Europa League, a competition they have won for the past two seasons.
"This was a great game, the type of game every player wants to play in," said Sevilla midfielder Steven N'Zonzi, speaking to UEFA.com after Sevilla completed their part of the bargain with a 1-0 win, while a quick-fire Raheem Sterling double – on 80 and 81 minutes – turned Gladbach's 2-1 lead against City on its head. "The atmosphere was fantastic, even more so when the news came through that Manchester City were winning."
Yet the eventual 4-2 success for the Citizens would have proved worthless had Unai Emery's charges not done their own homework, clinching a hard-fought 1-0 win thanks to a 65-minute header from Fernando Llorente – against the club he left this summer. "[My Sevilla adventure] is only just beginning," said the man of the moment. "This was my first important goal for the club and I hope it's the first of many.
"It's a great feeling to have made it into the Europa League," the 30-year-old said. "It's going to be very tough this season, there are loads of very strong sides, but it's a special competition for this club, while I've got great memories of it too from my time at Athletic [Club]. Particularly our first season under Marcelo Bielsa, when we had a wonderful campaign, winning home and away against Manchester United and reaching the final."
"We're really happy because the Europa League is Sevilla's competition," was the verdict of Spain winger Vitolo. "These past few years have shown us just how big a club Sevilla is, and just how much desire and ambition there is here. In recent seasons, the Europa League has improved a lot, with plenty of big-name clubs, and it won't be easy to progress in the competition. But we're the reigning champions and we’re going to tackle the Europa League with every intention of going all the way."
However, with Manchester United, Galatasaray and Shakhtar Donetsk also confirmed among the sides transferring into the round of 32 at the end of the group stage, Unai Emery's men can expect some competition.