Sevilla defended doggedly in a 0-0 draw before beating Benfica 4-2 on penalties to win the Europa League for the third time on Wednesday as the final curse of Bela Guttmann appeared to continue to haunt the Portuguese side.
Beaten 2-1 at the death by Chelsea in the same game 12 months ago, Benfica slumped to their eighth successive European final loss, putting a dampener on what had been a triumphant season.
Benfica's losing run is often referred to as the "curse of Bela Guttmann", the Hungarian coach who led them to successive European Cups in 1961 and 1962.
On leaving the club in acrimonious circumstances, Guttmann said they would never win another European title without him. Benfica went on to lose finals to AC Milan (1963), Inter Milan (1965) and Manchester United (1968).
Guttmann died in 1981, yet the run of defeats continued as they lost further European Cup finals to PSV Eindhoven (1988) and AC Milan (1990), and UEFA/Europa league finals to Anderlecht (1983) and Chelsea last year before last night's loss.
While the run is extraordinary, last night’s loss had much more to do with absolutely atrocious penalty taking and some liberal interpretation of the laws of the game by the officials. While the stuttered run ups and penalties of Oscar Cardozo and Rodrigo were poor, Sevilla keeper Beto was approaching his six-yard box when he made the saves – so the penalties should have been re-taken. The result has nothing to do with a curse but with each loss the pressure to claim a European trophy grows.
WHAT HAPPENS NEXT
Benfica - who have already secured the Portuguese league crown and league cup - need to dust themselves down in anticipation of Sunday’s Portuguese cup final against Rio Ave. Curse or no curse, Benfica’s need to secure a European trophy to get over what is now becoming a major psychological stumbling block.
WHAT THE MEDIA SAID
James Riach (Guardian): Benfica, though, may not have a better chance to end the barren run for some time. [Coach Jorge] Jesus, has been strongly linked with a move away from the club this summer, had already seen his team wrap up the Portuguese title by a seven-point margin, [and] add the League Cup to their trophy cabinet, with the Portuguese Cup final to come against Rio Ave.
Steve Crossman (BBC World Service): Defeat by penalty shootout is always hard to take, England fans need no lesson on that. Eight European final defeats in a row make it that little bit worse though, as does the fact that Sevilla keeper Beto was born in Lisbon, came through the Sporting academy and once played for Porto.
WHAT THE FANS SAY
- Sports & Recreation
- Europa League