Having overcome Athletic on a 'jueves de Feria', Sevilla have good reason to believe that this will be their season once more; UEFA.com's Nick Aitken considers the omens.
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Since celebrating their centenary in October 2005, Sevilla's European stock has risen to unprecedented heights. Having won no major continental titles in their first 100 years, Los Nervionenses have won five in the last decade – four editions of the UEFA Europa League and UEFA Cups and one UEFA Super Cup – in addition to two more Spanish Cups, taking their overall tally to five.
UEFA Europa League winners for the past two campaigns, Sevilla meet Ukrainian powerhouses Shakhtar Donetsk for a place in this season's final in Basel on 18 May. Sevillistas thoroughly enjoy a good omen – and the portents this term are certainly good …
Much play was made of the quarter-final second leg against Athletic Club falling on a 'jueves de Feria' – a Thursday during the city's famed annual fair – as a key game did in their run to their inaugural UEFA Cup title in 2005/06. On that occasion, an extra-time volley from the late Antonio Puerta sank semi-final opponents Schalke – a watershed moment in club history.
"[Against Athletic], Sevilla led the charmed life of champions that have appeared indestructible in this competition ever since they clinched a place in the final in 2006, also on a 'jueves de Feria'," wrote Spanish daily Marca. "The spirit of Puerta came together with the [club motto] of 'El Sevilla nunca se rinde' (Sevilla never give up) and, despite being on the edge of the precipice, they are still standing and in the semi-finals – one more epic tie for a memory bank that's now getting so full it's hard to find room."
Even in the face of Shakhtar's fine form in reaching the last four, brushing aside Portuguese opponents Braga 6-1 on aggregate in the quarter-finals, Unai Emery's charges have historical positives on which to draw. Winners of their last four matches against Ukrainian teams – including last year's 3-2 final defeat of Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk – Sevilla also ousted Shakhtar in a rollercoaster round of 16 tie in 2006/07.
Held 2-2 at home in the first leg, the defending champions were 2-1 down in added time in the return, only for goalkeeper Andrés Palop to head in a 94th-minute equaliser – laying the foundations for Ernesto Chevantón to clinch victory in extra time. "Everyone involved with Sevilla loves this competition and is willing to battle for it," said Emery after Thursday's shoot-out success over Athletic, which keeps his side on track for an unprecedented third consecutive triumph in this competition. "Sevilla never give up."