Late Mbia strike lands Sevilla in Europa final

Saturday, 3 May 2014 00:00 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

REUTERS: Sevilla snatched a last-gasp place in the Europa League final when a 94th-minute Stephane Mbia header put them through on away goals after their semi-final against Valencia ended 3-3 on aggregate on Thursday. Despite going down 3-1 in their second leg at Valencia’s Mestalla stadium, Mbia’s dramatic late strike set up a final showdown with Benfica on 14 May after the Portuguese club eliminated Italian side Juventus 2-1 on aggregate following a 0-0 draw in Turin. Sevilla were favourites to advance against their La Liga rivals after winning last week’s first leg 2-0 at home but a 14th-minute Sofiane Feghouli effort, an own goal from goalkeeper Beto in the 26th and a Jeremy Mathieu blast 21 minutes from time put Valencia 3-0 ahead on the night and 3-2 ahead overall. They were just over a minute away from going through to the final when Federico Fazio flicked on a long throw and Cameroon midfielder Mbia rose to crash a header into the net and silence the Valencia fans packed into the Mestalla. It was a triumph for Sevilla coach Unai Emery, who never completely won over the Valencia fans when he was in charge there from 2008 to 2012, and he celebrated Mbia’s goal wildly on the side of the pitch. “This is a unique experience,” Emery said in an interview with Spanish television. “We don’t care who we are playing in the final, we just have to enjoy this,” added the 42-year-old former Real Sociedad midfielder. “Now we have to beat a great team (Benfica) because they have beaten Juve, who are also a great club.”

 Energised Man City ready to grab title chance

REUTERS: Given unexpected assistance last weekend Manchester City are ready to take matters into their own hands and secure a second Premier League title in three seasons, according to Brazilian midfielder Fernandinho. Chelsea’s victory at Liverpool put City back in control of their own destiny and three wins from their last three matches should see Manuel Pellegrini’s team prevail in what has been an unpredictable title race. City face a tough assignment at fifth-placed Everton on Saturday before enticing home games against Aston Villa and West Ham United, and Fernandinho said they have been re-energised for the final push for the line. “We are back with a big chance of being champions again, we are not depending on other teams – it only depends on us, and that has changed a lot,” Fernandinho told the City website ( on Thursday. “It gives you energy because mentality is 70 percent of your body, and a result like that changes everything – your mind, your motivation. When your head is good, your body is good as well.” Three victories, even if Liverpool win their final two matches, would almost certainly clinch the title for City on goal difference as it did in 2012 when Sergio Aguero’s last-gasp winner against Queens Park Rangers proved decisive. A slip-up at Everton, though, would allow Liverpool or Chelsea to seize the initiative back. “We want to win the game, and the last two are at home, and hopefully we can win all three, and take nine points,” said Fernandinho, who is hopeful of making Brazil’s World Cup squad, said. “We have to play with passion to win every game, and this next one is no different. It’s a massive game for both teams. We are trying to keep fighting for the title and need to play to win the game, which hopefully we can do. “Everton are at home in front of their fans, and they are always good at home. The atmosphere is also good there, and they will play with a lot of intensity – we have to be ready for that. It will be a very tough game.” “It would be amazing, fantastic for me to win the title in my first season in Premier League, and that is why I want to win these three games,” added the 28-year-old who joined City from Shakhtar Donetsk last year. Next week could be the best week in my professional life.” City are three points behind leaders Liverpool and one adrift of Chelsea but have a game in hand on both rivals and a superior goal difference.