Federico Gatti headed the equaliser seven minutes into added time to preserve Juventus’ unbeaten home record in the UEFA Europa League after Youssef En-Nesyri had put Sevilla ahead in the first leg of their semi-final.
The hosts made a menacing start and had the best early opportunity, Dušan Vlahović lifting a close-range shot over the crossbar after Filip Kostić’s cross had found the striker in space.
Six-time champions Sevilla’s success in the competition has been built on burying chances of that quality, and soon Lucas Ocampos – already a threat, but forced off with injury later in the first half – collected a crossfield pass from Bryan Gil, raced forward and set up the lurking Youssef En-Nesyri to roll in the opener.
Sevilla threatened to score more after going ahead, prompting Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri to make two changes at the break. It was a pair of later substitutes, though, who finally rescued his side from a first ever UEFA Europa League home defeat.
After a second half short on cutting edge, Paul Pogba’s expert header allowed Federico Gatti to nod the equaliser seven minutes into added time, to Juve’s immense relief and leaving the teams level ahead of next Thursday’s second leg in Spain.
Massimiliano Allegri, Juventus coach: “Up until the goal, my team had moved the ball well – but when we got into advanced areas, it all seemed too easy and we made far too many mistakes. On the counterattack we were caught out because we didn’t track back and left gaps, and we risked conceding a second in similar circumstances. The lads did well to fight back and get a deserved draw that leaves everything to play for in the second leg.”
Federico Gatti, Juventus defender: “The goal means a lot but it will mean even more if we bring home the result in the return leg – otherwise it is worth nothing. They are a very strong team. They try to break up the game, but sooner or later an opportunity will come our way and we will have to take advantage of it.”
Leonardo Bonucci, Juventus defender: “The 500 appearances represent a historic and important milestone; being in Juve’s history is a source of pride and honour. I dreamt of it as a child and only a few make it. I enjoy the achievement, but the credit and thanks go to all my team-mates. In Seville, we will have to play a tough, intense game against a difficult opponent. We will fight to go to Budapest.”
José Luis Mendilibar, Sevilla coach: “I have to take away with me the effort we’ve put in over the 90 minutes and the great first half, when we won a lot of balls and created danger. We struggled to cause them any scares in the second half, so they were more comfortable. Our idea was to keep pressing higher up and keep trying to win balls in their half, to be close to their goal and cause more danger, but it was harder for us to win those balls and in the end we had to defend further back.”
Óliver Torres, Sevilla midfielder: “It’s true that, when we went into the dressing room at the end, the lads were sad because of the goal in the last minute. But I think you have to credit the effort the team produced, the great game we played against an opponent like this away from home. At the start, they dominated and had Di María dropping into spaces where he could hurt us. But we improved and started winning second balls which allowed us to attack and create some very good counters. In the second half they dominated, but they were hardly creating a lot of danger.”
Nemanja Gudelj, Sevilla defender: “I’m especially proud of the first half, when we had chances to score even more goals than we did. In the second half we let them take control when perhaps we should have continued as we did in the first half, but even then they didn’t cause too much danger. It’s not a very nice feeling when they score in the 97th minute but we can be proud of ourselves and we’re taking a good result to the Sánchez-Pizjuán.”
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