When Sevilla beat Jose Mourinho’s Italian side Roma in the Europa League final at the end of May 2023, it was the Spanish club’s seventh success in the competition (including its forerunner, the UEFA Cup). The UEFA Cup was first played in the 1971/72 season and was rebranded as the Europa League for the 2009/10 campaign. Sevilla have now won four more Europa League (and/or UEFA Cup) tournaments than their nearest rivals (Inter Milan, Liverpool, Juventus and Atletico Madrid have won three times apiece).
But what makes Sevilla’s achievement even more astounding is that they only won the competition for the first time in 2005/06 – hence they’ve won it in seven of the last 18 seasons, a staggering win percentage of almost 40%. Add to that the fact that Sevilla have never lost a Europa League final, and they truly over-achieve in Europe’s second-tier tournament.
So, in honour of Sevilla’s outstanding record in the Europa League, let’s take a look back at the seven finals in which they tasted European glory. (Note that we will generally use the term Europa League to refer to both the Europa League and its predecessor, the UEFA Cup.)
1. 2005/06 – Comprehensive Defeat of Middlesbrough
Sevilla got their first UEFA Cup triumph in May 2006 when they hammered English side Middlesbrough 4-0 in Eindhoven. Future Spurs and Real Madrid boss Juande Ramos was in charge at Sevilla and he guided his side to as comfortable a win as you are likely to see in a major final.
The goals from Luís Fabiano, Frédéric Kanouté and two from Enzo Maresca made the difference and Middlesbrough boss Steve McClaren (who would soon take over as England manager) could do nothing to prevent Sevilla’s victory, despite having some decent players at his disposal, including Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink, Mark Viduka and, another future England boss, Gareth Southgate.
2. 2006/07 – Victory on Penalties in All-Spanish Final
Things were not so easy for Sevilla in their second UEFA Cup final, which took place at Hampden Park in Glasgow. Facing fellow La Liga side Espanyol, Sevilla took the lead after 18 minutes but were pegged back 10 minutes later. It stayed 1-1 until extra time when the holders once again took the lead (through Frédéric Kanouté), only to let it slip once more. With the match level at 2-2 after extra time, the final was decided by penalties, which Sevilla won 3-1 thanks to some poorly taken spot-kicks by three Espanyol players.
3. 2013/14 – Penalty Win after Benfica Bore Draw
There followed a bit of a gap before Sevilla landed their third win in the competition. The 2013/14 final of the Europa League (as it was now called) took place in Turin, Italy and the Rojiblancos faced Portuguese giants Benfica (who had won the European Cup twice, but never Europe’s second-tier competition).
Sevilla were managed by future Paris Saint-Germain, Arsenal and Aston Villa boss Unai Emery, and his relatively cautious approach, coupled with Benfica’s lack of ambition, meant it was a rather tepid affair. With no goals scored after normal time and no breakthroughs in extra time, the final went to penalties. Sevilla once again saw things go their way and won 4-2 after two Benfica players failed to convert.
4. 2014/15 – Classic Final Ends in Narrow Win over Ukrainians
There were no accusations of caution levelled at Sevilla or Emery after the 2014/15 final as the Spaniards edged a five-goal thriller in Warsaw. Facing Ukrainian side Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk (who have since been dissolved), Sevilla went into the match as favourites, but the underdogs gave as good as they got and actually took the lead after just seven minutes.
Sevilla struck back in the 28th minute and then edge ahead themselves three minutes later, but the game remained open and the Ukrainian side made it 2-2 just before half time. The second period saw chances for both sides but ultimately Sevilla’s quality won through and Colombian striker Carlos Bacca scored his second of the game after 73 minutes to hand Sevilla a 3-2 triumph and their fourth Europa League.
5. 2015/16 – Liverpool Outclassed by Scintillating Sevilla
Sevilla faced English opposition for the second time in a Europa League final when they came up against Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool in 2015/16. The German manager was in his first season at Anfield and was determined to bag some silverware, but Sevilla were vying for three Europa Leagues on the bounce and clearly they were enjoying an exceptional run in the competition.
In what was seen as a relatively evenly matched encounter, Liverpool struck first, Daniel Sturridge scoring after 35 minutes. Emery’s Rojiblancos were as hungry as ever, however, and scored three second-half goals (one from Kevin Gameiro and two from captain Coke) to claim a deserved 3-1 victory and become the only side in history to win the competition in three successive seasons.
6. 2019/20 – Sevilla Edge Victory over Inter
Now under the stewardship of future Wolves boss Julen Lopetegui, Sevilla scored three goals in a Europa League final once again and thus won their sixth Europa League… but only just. This time they faced Antonio Conte’s Inter Milan, a side that included such stars as Belgium’s Romelu Lukaku, Argentina’s Lautaro Martínez and … er … England’s Ashley Young. It was Lukaku who struck first for the Italians, scoring from the penalty spot after just five minutes.
Sevilla had plenty of top players amongst their ranks too, however, and it was their Dutch striker Luuk de Jong who proved his worth in the final when he equalised after 12 minutes and then guided his side into the lead just after the half-hour mark. In a surprisingly open game, Inter hit back swiftly through Diego Godín before a goal from Lukaku ultimately settled it… but unfortunately for Inter, it was an own goal and Sevilla were once again victorious, running out 3-2 winners.
7. 2022/23 – Bad-tempered Affair Ends in Sevilla’s Favour
Finally we come to the 2022/23 final in which Sevilla faced Jose Mourinho’s Roma in Budapest. It was an ill-tempered match, both on and off the pitch, and the Spaniards, now managed by José Luis Mendilibar, were unable to create too many chances despite enjoying the majority of the possession.
The game was 1-1 after normal time and no further goals were scored in extra time. The sides only managed three shots on target each so it was no great surprise it ended up going to penalties. With their 100% record on penalties in Europa League finals (and indeed having never lost a final in the competition), it was also no surprise to see Sevilla win the day: they scored all four of their spot-kicks while Roma missed two, meaning Sevilla won 4-1 on penalties.
Once again the Rojiblancos proved they could grind out a result in the final of Europe’s second-tier tournament and their haul of seven wins in the competition leaves every other side trailing in their wake.