Sevilla finally breaks through in Europe, 60 years later

MADRID — Sevilla needed a resounding victory over a European powerhouse to put itself back among the best in Europe.


About 60 years ago, Sevilla eliminated Danish club AGF to make it to the last eight in the European Cup for the last time. Now it needed a victory over a star-filled Manchester United to reach the Champions League quarterfinals.

"We needed a brave act, and we pulled it off," Sevilla president Jose Castro said after the team's 2-1 win at Old Trafford on Tuesday, which allowed the Spanish club to advance after a 0-0 draw in Seville.

"We had to change history. It had been 60 years without being able to make it this far," he said. "We defeated a team with many stars and high-profile signings. It was a magical night."

Sevilla has been trying for years to establish itself as a major player in the Champions League following continued success in the lower tier of European soccer. In the Europa League, the team has three titles in the last four seasons, but until now it had not been able to go very far in the top European club competition.

This is the third straight season Sevilla has played in the Champions League. Last year it made its first appearance in the round of 16 since the 2009-10 season, when it was eliminated by CSKA Moscow. It couldn't get past Leicester a year ago, and it was eliminated in the group stage the previous season.

"We'll keep going," said Italian coach Vincenzo Montella, who revamped Sevilla since arriving at the start of the year. "Now we will go for victory in the quarterfinals and then again in the semifinals."

Sevilla has been a perennial challenger to Barcelona and Real Madrid in Spain, but its last Spanish league trophy was won in 1946. It hasn't finished second since 1957, and it was third for the last time in 2009.

Sevilla is only fifth in the Spanish league this season, 11 points behind fourth-place Valencia. But it made it to the Copa del Rey final, when it will face three-time defending champion Barcelona on April 21.

Sevilla played well against United in both matches. It couldn't get past a great performance of goalkeeper David de Gea in the first leg in Seville, but Wissam Ben Yedder scored twice at Old Trafford on Tuesday. United, the Europa League winner last year, pulled one back with a late goal by Romelu Lukaku, but the team needed two more to be able to advance to the quarterfinals for the first time since 2014.

While De Gea thrived in the first leg, Sergio Rico was key in goal for Sevilla on Wednesday, making two difficult saves.

After eliminating AGF in the 1958 European Cup, Sevilla lost to eventual champion Real Madrid 8-0 in the first leg of the quarterfinals at Santiago Bernabeu Stadium, when Alfredo Di Stefano scored four goals. It could not manage more than a 2-2 draw in the return match in Seville.

The draw for the quarterfinals is Friday, so Sevilla will just savour the moment until then.

"We've made history," Sevilla defender Clement Lenglet said. "When kids look at Sevilla's history book in the future, they will see our names."


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