Sevilla beats Juventus 1-0 to earn Europa League berth
ABS-CBN Sports on Dec 09, 2015 10:53 AM
Sevilla's Fernando Llorente celebrates his goal during the Champions League Group D soccer match between Sevilla and Juventus, Ramon Sanchez-Pizjuan stadium in Seville, Spain, Tuesday, Dec. 8, 2015. (AP Photo/Miguel Angel Morenatti)
SEVILLE, Spain (AP) — Sevilla secured a berth in the Europa League after beating Juventus 1-0 in the Champions League on Tuesday, when Fernando Llorente scored against his former team.
Juventus failed to convert several scoring chances before Llorente struck with a headed goal in the 65th minute at Sanchez Pizjuan Stadium.
Sevilla will move on to join the Europa League, a competition it has won the past two seasons, after overtaking Borussia Moenchengladbach and finishing third in Group D.
"We knew that this was going to be a special night. It was a final for us, our only hope of staying in Europe," said Llorente, who had yet to score in the competition since joining Sevilla this summer. "We played magnificently and showed our character. We show up for the important matches."
Juventus was already qualified for the round of 16, but last year's finalist missed out finishing as group winner after Manchester City rallied for a 4-2 win at home over Moenchengladbach to finish top of the group.
"Considering how many chances we created I don't think we deserved to lose this game," Juventus defender Giorgio Chiellini said. "A draw would have been even too little for us. Let's hope for a good draw now. I hope we will not regret this game in March."
Juventus was the more dangerous side at the start of a first half that offered opportunities for both teams but ended in a stalemate at halftime.
Juventus striker Alvaro Morata headed the ball high and angled a shot by the far post before Stefano Sturaro forced goalkeeper Sergio Rico into making a good save in the 18th.
A minute later, Llorente had Sevilla's first shot on goal when he received the ball and held off a defender before testing goalie Gianluigi Buffon.
Morata wasted an excellent set-up from Paulo Dybala, who headed down a pass in Morata's path inside the six-yard box, only for Morata to stab the ball past the upright.
It was then Buffon's turn to get low and trap Llorente's header on the half-hour mark.
Juventus' Paul Pobga unleashed a powerful blast from outside the area that Rico did well to push wide just after the second half started.
But after Ever Banega again forced Buffon to get low, Llorente beat the 'keeper by lifting a glancing header from Yevhen Konoplyank's corner kick just inside the far post.
Dybala almost leveled with a blast that rattled the crossbar near the end, while Sevilla's fans celebrated City's goals that assured it remained in European competition.
Morata had a last try from inside the area that a defender blocked in injury time.