Deja vu: Sevilla wins controversial Europa League Final for third consecutive year

Sevilla holds onto their Europa League dominance with a 3-1 win over Liverpool in the UEFA Europa League Final. Amid being down 1-0 and being fortunate on multiple handball no-calls, Sevilla made the perfect adjustments during halftime to take the fifth Europa League title and a trip back to the UEFA Champions League.

The first half was very even on both sides and the midfield battle was especially tense. Liverpool argued on at least four handballs in the box that the refs didn’t call. It has gotten a bit out of hand in determining what was or wasn’t a handball but Liverpool had a case on all four and at least one or two looked like they were no-brainer penalties.

Despite that, Liverpool took the lead in one of the best goals of the tournament. Daniel Sturridge used the outside of his foot to curl in the first goal of the game.

Liverpool and Sevilla went back into the locker room with Liverpool ahead 1-0 at halftime. They may have been unfortunate with referees calls but it looked like they were using that as motivation to play even better.

Then in the second half, it looked as though one team came out of the locker room ready to go and the other was still in theirs.

In just 18 seconds, Kevin Gamiero equalized for Sevilla immediately off the kickoff. After a poor clearance by Alberto Moreno, Gamiero was able to tap in the ground cross and equalize.

It got from bad to worse for Liverpool as Coke finished off a brilliant team goal from Sevilla to take the lead 2-1 in the 64th minute.

Then it got even worse for Liverpool. Coke took advantage of an horrendously poor deflection or clearance or whatever that was from Philippe Coutinho, put Sevilla up 3-1 and held onto the win.

Naturally, in a game like this, fingers are pointed in terms of who to blame. Many will be pointed toward the referee crew for botching so many calls. Many will be pointed to Liverpool’s defenders for having a rather terrible time. And in all serious, both are to blame. Regardless of what happened, the referees non-calls factored into the outcome of the game. And after Sevilla’s time wasting as well as at one point, the fourth official screwing up the numbers on the sub board costing more time, to only give four minutes of stoppage time shows that the refs played a part. For Liverpool, except for Kolo Toure, the Liverpool backline did just about nothing constructive to help Liverpool. Alberto Moreno, Dejan Lovren and Emre Can (though he wasn’t on the backline) were especially terrible at defending.

Also, let’s not take anything from Sevilla. Whatever was said by manager Unai Emery, it worked. Sevilla came out as a different team and took it to Liverpool. It’s not everyday that Jurgen Klopp gets out managed but an argument could be made that Emery was more effective in his changes than Klopp made.

Liverpool fans have every right to be upset at the refs but it’s much more than that. Yes, Liverpool was hard done by referees calls, they didn’t show any sign that they were coming back at any point in the second half. A team cannot control the officials and anyone who remains preoccupied with them and not their play will not be successful. Liverpool squandered a one goal lead and showed no sign of putting up a fight to comeback. That wasn’t the official’s fault.

Overall, Sevilla sees another successful season by winning the Europa League. They can make it a double this weekend as they will be in the Copa del Rey Final against Barcelona. For Liverpool, it hurts now and losing two finals in a season cannot be great but there is a lot to be hopeful for. No Liverpool fan would have expected this in the beginning of their season and will be back next season with a summer of Klopp’s players and a clean slate. The last time Liverpool didn’t have European competition, they finished 2nd. In a continuing upheaval of the top spots in the Premier League as well as some Klopp chosen signings, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Liverpool put up a top four or even a title fight next season.

About Phillip Bupp

News and soccer editor for The Comeback and Awful Announcing. I also do video highlight game coverage for Major League Soccer as well as a freelance writer for hire. Opinions are my own but feel free to agree with them. Follow me on Twitter and on Facebook @phillipbupp

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