Liverpool 1-3 Sevilla: Kevin Gameiro and Coke complete second-half comeback to claim record third consecutive Europa League as Jurgen Klopp's cup final jinx continues
- Sevilla won a record third consecutive Europa League with a 3-1 victory over Liverpool in Basle
- Daniel Sturridge opened the scoring with a stunning finish with the outside of his left boot
- Kevin Gameiro equalised within minutes of the break after meeting a superb Mariano cross
- Sevilla captain Coke scored twice in the space of six minutes to seal a historic victory at St Jakob-Park
- Reds manager Jurgen Klopp has now lost five consecutive cup finals - in Germany, England and Europe
To be fair, Liverpool have been punching above their weight in Europe all season. According to the Premier League table, they are England’s eighth best team, behind Southampton, behind West Ham. Yet, somehow, they have defeated England’s fifth, Spain’s fourth and the runners-up in Germany.
This was a belt too far, however, Liverpool in the second half walking on to the football equivalent of the punch that felled Amir Khan. Sevilla now join an elite group of clubs who have won a European title in three consecutive editions. Real Madrid, Bayern Munich and Ajax are the others and Sevilla are the first triple winners since Munich’s European Cup victory in 1976 — and the only club to have achieved it outside UEFA’s marquee competition.
Sevilla players pose with the trophy after completing a stunning second-half comeback to win a record third consecutive Europa League
Liverpool coach Jurgen Klopp (centre) tries to console his players after losing a fifth consecutive cup final as a manager
The Spanish side, who have not won an away game in La Liga all season, celebrate victory in front of their fans in Basle
The Liverpool manager gives goalscorer Daniel Sturridge a hug (left) while Martin Skrtel puts an arm around Philippe Coutinho (right)
Sevilla captain Coke wheels away after scoring the first of his two goals in the 3-1 victory over Liverpool
Coke netted his second six minutes after his first despite calls for offside from enraged Liverpool players
France striker Kevin Gameiro grabs the badge on his shirt after bringing Sevilla level 17 seconds into the second half
Sturridge (centre) opened the scoring for Liverpool with a stunning long-distance shot struck with the outside of his boot
PLAYER RATINGS by Pete Jenson
Victors in the UEFA Cup or the Europa League tended to graduate to bigger and better things in the past, but rule changes and fluidity between competitions keep returning Sevilla to this happy hunting ground. Even so it is an immense feat. They have won this competition in five of the last 11 seasons. Increasingly, they are to it what Real Madrid are to the Champions League.
Not that this will be any consolation to Liverpool, of course, or to the many thousands who made the journey, with or without tickets, expecting to win. There was huge confidence in England around Liverpool’s challenge, a belief that was exposed by 45 humbling second-half minutes in which Sevilla took them apart. Fair to say, observers from Spain were fairly certain of Sevilla’s superiority, too. By the end, it was their optimism that appeared better forged in reality.
There was controversy around Sevilla’s third goal, perhaps, but not their third trophy. Disappointing in the first half, they were comfortably superior by the end, sweeping Liverpool aside with three second-half goals.
Jurgen Klopp was left to contemplate another final defeat in a fog of impotent fury. There has been much to laud about his first season at Anfield, but ultimately it concludes with two final defeats, a mid-table league position, and no European football next season.
That certainly makes the summer transfer market tougher to negotiate, with a Champions League berth the bonus prize for victory here. He will have to sell Liverpool hard, and while he has the personality to do that, his options will unquestionably be limited now.
Klopp has now lost five finals in a row — in Germany, England and UEFA competition — yet when Liverpool took the lead here it looked as if that depressing run might be broken. It was a quite magnificent goal, too — a reminder of the player Liverpool, and England, have if Daniel Sturridge can stay fit. And if Klopp doesn’t want him, then after scoring such a goal on this stage, plenty will.
Both sides line up at the St Jakob-Park stadium in Basle ahead of the 2016 Europa League final on Wednesday night
Brazilian forward Roberto Firmino brings the ball down acrobatically as Liverpool dominate the early exchanges
Sturridge (right) meets a cross from Liverpool and England team-mate Nathanial Clyne and head across goal but sees it cleared off the line
With Sevilla's goalkeeper stranded, Sturridge's first-half header was cleared away by defender Daniel Carrico as it headed in
Liverpool's influential midfielder Emre Can (left) and Coke of Sevilla engage in a synchronised battle for the ball
Sturridge comes close to breaking the deadlock again only for his shot to be crowded out by the Sevilla goalkeeper David Soria
Sevilla's Caricco (right) appears to handle the ball as Liverpool forward Firmino bursts into the box during the first half
The Brazilian appeals for a penalty after what appeared to be a certain handball by the Sevilla defender
Gameiro (fourth left) missed a chance to give Sevilla the lead after his dramatic overhead kick went narrowly wide
KLOPP'S CUP FINAL JINX
There were 35 minutes gone when Roberto Firmino found Philippe Coutinho, strangely quiet until this point, and he moved it on to Sturridge. The striker took a couple of touches and then curled it, beautifully, perfectly, with the outside of his left boot into the far corner. It was a quite magnificent strike, and not just for Liverpool, but as a reminder to all that he is by no means the fourth, or fifth, name on Roy Hodgson’s roll call of strikers this summer.
That is not to say his contemporaries could not have scored it — but, let’s face it, they didn’t and he did. And at a grand arena, too. He ran away in triumph and did his little dance, unfortunately to the wrong corner of the ground — although in his defence it was hard to tell, so overwhelming was Liverpool’s support.
And at that time, Klopp’s men looked good for their lead. Emre Can and Sturridge had forced saves from goalkeeper David Soria — unconvincing, but he survived — while Daniel Carrico had made a desperate hooked clearance from deep inside his six-yard box and toughed out a decent penalty shout for handball.
Sturridge's eyes are fixed firmly on the ball as he unleashes a stunning strike with the outside of his left foot
Sevilla keeper Soria dives in vain as Sturridge's shot screams past him and into the corner to hand Liverpool a first-half lead
Liverpool players race to celebrate the opening goal as Sturridge performs his now customary dance moves
Liverpool manager Klopp celebrates the opening goal with his typical touchline histrionics
France international Gameiro (second right) meets a superb cross from Mariano to draw Sevilla level just after the break
The Sevilla striker wheels away leaving a crowd of dejected Liverpool defenders in his wake
Sevilla coach Unai Emery (centre) celebrates the equaliser with his substitutes on the sidelines
Gameiro almost scored a second moments after the equaliser before being denied by a last-ditch Kolo Toure tackle
Sevilla’s one chance of the first half was an ambitious overhead kick by Kevin Gameiro, so Klopp had every reason to feel good about the state of the game, even if he seemed at times to be demanding a higher tempo. After half-time, however, it all changed. Indeed, in just 17 seconds, the game did a screeching handbrake turn, and was soon over the horizon and out of sight. If Liverpool’s plan was to keep Sevilla similarly shackled in the second half, it was ruined from the kick-off.
They immediately went on the attack and after an Alberto Moreno header had fallen to Mariano Ferreira on the right, Liverpool fell apart defensively. Mariano cut inside, beat Moreno easily, got to the byline, struck a low cross and Gameiro was on hand to tap in from close range.
It is not the first time Moreno’s defensive frailty has cost Liverpool in Europe this season and it seemed to leave them in shock. Their fans fell quiet and minutes later, Gameiro broke free, a magnificent recovery by Kolo Toure on ageing legs all that thwarted Gameiro as he bore down on goal.
It was goalkeeper Simon Mignolet to the rescue next, an excellent save from Gamiero keeping Liverpool in the game. Klopp implored the fans to make Basle feel like Anfield on a Thursday night again, but it was no use. Like his players, they never recovered.
Ultimately, Sevilla’s momentum rode over Liverpool, the way Liverpool have ridden over opponents in Europe this season. The second goal was quite magnificent, brilliant work from Vitolo in midfield playing a matching pair of one-twos — the second with the ever-dangerous Ever Banega — before captain Coke swept in to finish, running off Nathaniel Clyne.
Coke finished a brilliant run from Vitolo with a well-struck effort into the bottom corner to send Sevilla 2-1 up
Former Crystal palace defender Clyne fails to prevent Coke from lashing home a beautiful effort to put Sevilla in the lead
The Sevilla captain is mobbed by team-mates as the La Liga side take the lead for the first time in the game
Coke watches as the ball finds the back of the net for his second goal of the evening to hand Sevilla a 3-1 lead
Coke, who had never scored a single goal in European competition, pumps his fist en route to victory
Liverpool substitute Skrtel (right) is shown a yellow card after protesting that Sevilla's third goal was offside
Coke drops to his knees at the final whistle as Sevilla make history with a third consecutive Europa League victory
Can (centre) hides his face as he is consoled by Liverpool team-mate Lucas Leiva (left) and Sevilla's Carrico
Klopp speaks to referee Jonas Eriksson (third right) at the end of the game after complaining about Sevilla's third goal
Sturridge struggles to hide his disappointment as he sits in the rain while Sevilla players celebrate victory around him
Former Arsenal forward Jose Antonio Reyes joins in the celebrations despite not featuring in Sevilla's matchday squad
Coke scored the clincher, too — they were his first goals in European competition, proving from Liverpool’s point of view that things don’t always go better with Coke (and yes, I know it’s not pronounced like that).
He got lucky, though, it must be said, collecting a rebound off a Liverpool boot in what looked to be an offside position. Coke converted, a flag went up, but was overruled by referee Jonas Eriksson. Substitute Martin Skrtel led the touchline protests, soon joined by Klopp, but after another round of consultation the decision stood.
And as the rain fell on Basle, so Liverpool’s Europa League firework show simply fizzled out.
This time there was no drama, no comeback, no miracle to behold. Liverpool are still a work in progress under Klopp and Sevilla, quite simply, are not. They arrived in Switzerland not on a journey or a mission, or a wave of emotion, but because they are one of the most consistently effective teams in Europe right now. Then they did what consistently effective teams do; they won.
Many are convinced Klopp will get there with Liverpool, eventually, but this season it was probably an achievement to still be involved at this late stage. That so many feel disappointed Liverpool did not win means we still believe in magic, if nothing else.
And Klopp will be charged with performing more of it next season.