Last-gasp Sevilla snatch final berth from Valencia
Thursday, 1 May 2014
Valencia CF 3-1 Sevilla FC (agg: 3-3, Sevilla win on away goals)
Sevilla were heading out until the 94th minute, when Stéphane Mbia rose to dramatically seal a final date with SL Benfica.
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Sevilla FC will meet SL Benfica in the 2014 UEFA Europa League final after a stunning climax to their semi-final that saw Stéphane Mbia's 94th-minute header deny Valencia CF at the last.
Having come from 3-0 down to oust FC Basel 1893 in the last round, Valencia's powers of recovery were again on display as Juan Antonio Pizzi's side overcame a 2-0 first-leg deficit. Sofiane Feghouli's strike set the hosts on their way and by the 26th minute it was all square after Beto's own goal. Jéremy Mathieu's second-half strike looked to have won it; Mbia, though, had other ideas.
Enveloped by a spectacular atmosphere, both sides responded and it was Sevilla who set the early tone with Carlos Bacca and Ivan Rakitić going close following swift counterattacks. The Andalusian side could do little to prevent the game's opener, however, Eduardo Vargas and Feghouli dazzling the visiting defence. Feghouli turned inside Federico Fazio and slammed the ball past goalkeeper Beto via a deflection off Coke.
Now holding the whip hand, Sevilla went in search of a second, and quickly found it as Juan Bernat's whipped cross from the left was met by Jonas. The forward's header bounced down off the underside of the crossbar and off the back of Beto, on his 32nd birthday, before crossing the line.
Now all square, the 2004 UEFA Cup winners almost lost control as the half progressed. Returning to Valencia's lineup after five weeks out with a hamstring injury, Brazilian international keeper Diego Alves turned hero as he somehow got across to block out Juan Antonio Reyes's goalbound strike.
With the action spilling into the second half, Pablo Piatti flashed a shot past the upright; Sevilla's search for space in their opponents' half was proving fruitless. Valencia's determination reaped its reward when, following Fede Cartabia's corner from the left, Mathieu connected with Ricardo Costa's inadvertent lay-off to put the home side ahead for the first time in the tie.
Sevilla rallied but the gig looked to be up when Mbia, on target in the first leg, planted a firm header on a flick-on to book Unai Emery's team's passage to Turin on 14 May, where they will meet Benfica.