"A Hollywood director couldn't have written a better script," said Ivan Rakitić after Sevilla FC's dramatic comeback and shoot-out win against distraught Real Betis Balompié.
Article top media content
"A Hollywood director couldn't have written a better script," said Sevilla FC captain Ivan Rakitić after they overturned a 2-0 first-leg deficit at neighbours Real Betis Balompié before reaching the UEFA Europa League quarter-finals on penalties.
José Antonio Reyes and Carlos Bacca levelled the last-16 tie for Sevilla before the 4-3 shoot-out win, which left Stéphane Mbia thrilled. The dejected Betis trio of Juanfran, Jorge Molina and captain Antonio Amaya turned their focus towards retaining their top-flight status while sharing the pain of team-mate Nono, who missed the decisive penalty.
Ivan Rakitić, Sevilla midfielder
This is a night to savour for us and for all Sevillistas. It was a great game: a Hollywood director couldn't have written a better script, so we should enjoy it. [We were put through the mill] but that's the way football is, it's what we work for every day. The fans, all the people around us – the coaching staff, the president, everyone involved with us – believed we could do it and now we have to keep going because we're a good team. The party [in the dressing room] is hopefully not over. The guys will have a quick shower and then we'll keep going a bit longer.
Stéphane Mbia, Sevilla midfielder
Today was a great opportunity for me because I missed the first game with a little injury, but the coach showed he had confidence in me to change the story today. I'm so happy, we've got such a good bunch of guys in there [the dressing room], and I'm not at all surprised about the result. I'm so happy we won today and that we're going through to the next round.
Wow, the atmosphere in the stadium was unbelievable. After the last game [the first leg], whenever we went to training or to the shops people kept talking about this game, how important it was, so I'm very happy we could get the result today. We've got so much quality, such a good coach and the team really wants to achieve something. I'm very happy to be here because they're all such clever players, which is really important for the future.
The coach likes me to play in midfield, but I'm happy to play anywhere to help this team, I'm really enjoying it here. It doesn't matter who we play in the next round. It's more important that we focus on ourselves, stick together and then we'll see what happens in the draw.
Juanfran, Betis defender
It's been a very tough season, things just won't go our way. We were poor in the first half but great in the second and in extra time. But things aren't going our way and when that happens there's not much you can do. We have to focus on the league now, try to avoid relegation and give everything in every game. We were very good in the second half, but their [second] goal came at a difficult time. We could have scored and we didn't so it went to penalties, when we had another shot [at winning] and weren't able to take it either.
This Sunday's game [against Club Atlético de Madrid] is life or death for us because we're in a critical situation. The Betis fans are incredible, they got behind us for the whole game and all we can say is thank you for that. The way they are makes them unique. For us, it's an honour to wear this shirt.
Jorge Molina, Betis forward
It's tough to take. We were hoping for a different result and we're disappointed. We maybe sat a bit too deep in the first half, but in the second half and in extra time we pressed higher up and we deserved a bit more than we got. The fans were spectacular tonight, like they always are.
Antonio Amaya, Betis defender
The lads in the dressing room are very down, but we've got to get our heads up again as soon as possible. It was a tough blow to take. We could have made history but it just wasn't possible.
The final penalty was heartbreaking. Nono's just 20 and to have to take responsibility for that kick ... It's hard, but we've got to move on. Nono was devastated and that was really painful for us to see.
We'd been so excited. We had it [a place in the next round] within our grasp and they snatched it away from us in the lottery that is a penalty shoot-out. Today was a historic game and we're going to remember it for the rest of our lives.