Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 20 October 2020

Sevilla stars celebrate Europa League triumph in stadium while fans go wild on the streets - in pictures

A record sixth trophy for the Spaniards

Luuk de Jong was full of praise for "incredible" Sevilla after a thrilling Europa League final saw them lift the trophy for a record sixth time.

The former Newcastle striker repeated his heroics when, after his winner dumped Manchester United out in the semi-final, he scored twice in the Spaniards' 3-2 final victory over Antonio Conte's Inter Milan in Cologne.

"It's incredible. We've had such tough games all tournament, but we have played so well as a team," said De Jong.

"You could see it during the tournament, we were really a team, like a family.

"We worked together and it didn't matter who played, who came on the pitch, everybody was working for each other and you could see it also in this last game.

"It was tough. We started well, but out of nothing they scored a goal because of the penalty. But then I could score two headers. It's an amazing feeling for me and luckily at the end, we could win the game."

De Jong, who had scored only eight goals all season before the La Liga outfit arrived in Germany, came off the bench against United but was included from the start against Inter and manager Julen Lopetegui's faith was richly rewarded.

He cancelled out Romelu Lukaku's fifth-minute penalty with a diving header and then powered home an Ever Banega free-kick to make it 2-1, although it was Lukaku's own goal which eventually won it for Sevilla after Diego Godin had levelled.

Asked when he was told he would be playing, De Jong said: "This morning, he [Lopetegui] told me. But I told him - like I told him for the other games - that I'm always ready when he needs me, and today it worked really well for me."

Lopetegui, who was sacked by both Spain and Real Madrid before taking over at the Ramon Sanchez-Pizjuan Stadium, was delighted to have secured the first trophy of his reign.

"It's very special to win a cup and this moment, for me, for all the club, for our fans, is very special. We are very happy because we have worked very hard and then we have a happy ending," he said.

Commenting on De Jong's contribution, he added: "Luuk is a very good player. He was waiting for his moment and he arrived at the right moment."

Inter keeper Samir Handanovic vowed he and his teammates would bounce back from their disappointment on a night when Carlos might have been sent off for the challenge which led to the early penalty.

Handanovic told www.uefa.com: "We are very disappointed but we have to move on. We just hope to play many other important games like this in the future. The foundation is there.

"Next season we will restart from a good foundation. Tonight we did not do exactly what we planned. It's a pity but I congratulate Sevilla, they are a very good team and they proved it once again.

"We have to move on. You can learn a lot from defeats."

Conte said he has no intention of quitting after the disappointing end to the season.

The coach's occasional angry outbursts have seen him clash with Inter's senior executives since taking over the reins in 2019 but the 51-year-old maintained that he would be staying with the club.

"There is no rancour, from me nor the club. There are people I already worked with, so that's not the issue," Conte said in a post-match interview.

"It's about points of view, some situations that I faced this year and didn't like, with all due respect for everyone.

"We'll clarify the situation, without rancour, because I will always be grateful for having the chance to spend a great year at Inter, but on the other it was also very tough ... if you think I will step back, I won't."

Conte was left rueing the bad luck of Romelu Lukaku, who scored 34 goals this season after arriving from Manchester United but who ended up deflecting Diego Carlos's overhead kick into his own net in the second half.

"It was a tough, well-balanced game where in the second half one incident could change it. We had the opportunity, but instead there was that unlucky deflection off Romelu, so inevitably it became very difficult after that," Conte said.

"We have regrets to a degree, as the team gave everything it had against a team with a great deal of experience that was accustomed to these occasions and that had won the final many times. In the end, that made the difference."

Updated: August 22, 2020 09:47 AM

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