The game had been billed as a tight, tactical affair, but it instead proved a tempestuous, back-and-forth encounter with as many big calls for the referee as big chances on goal.
Romelu Lukaku won, and scored, a penalty in the opening minutes, but a Jesus Navas cross was immediately headed home for the equaliser by Luuk de Jong. The Dutch striker then found another brilliant header to put Sevilla ahead, only for Diego Godin to reply with a powerful header of his own within seconds.
After the break it was a much slower affair, but an attempted overhead kick from Diego Carlos was put into his own net by Lukaku with 15 minutes left to play to hand Sevilla the trophy.
Here are five things we learned from a hugely absorbing final.
Playing his way out of a move?
Diego Carlos has been linked with the likes of Manchester City in recent weeks, but his showing in the latter stages of the Europa League might just be giving his admirers second thoughts.
Not because of his best performance capacity being below that required at this stage, nor in his form being so good that his value has sky-rocketed, but instead in a series of misjudgements which, at the very least, ask questions of his decision-making at the highest level.
The centre-back gave away a penalty in the quarter-final, another in the semis and here, incredibly, a third in the final—which arguably should have seen him red-carded, too.
An inability to judge the bounce or the pace of Romelu Lukaku put him in all kinds of trouble, while he later struggled to play out before being closed down, gave away the free-kick for Inter’s second and, across the three games, has definitely been shown up by his younger defensive partner Jules Kounde.
Nothing wrong with his overhead kicks, mind.
Elite show of heading
Not often we see it, especially in a final when the emphasis can be on defence: Three entirely different headers, but three spectacular goals in 45 minutes of football.
De Jong’s first was a real striker’s effort: good movement out of the six-yard box, then back across the defender and into a key area, allowing him to simply direct his effort past the keeper and in.
Next, his brace was all about his unique selling point throughout his career: an improbable finish off an aerial half-chance, if even that, as he got on the end of a set-piece. It was a truly stunning goal, a long-range, curling, looping effort which gave Samir Handanovic no chance.
And, seconds later, Diego Godin with his career trademark: arriving like an express train, brave and powerful and determined to reach the ball first, to bullet in a big-game goal.
Lukaku’s great season...and galling footnote
Romelu Lukaku has had a tremendous debut campaign in Italy, thoroughly proving his worth and his transfer fee for Inter Milan.
It was his powerful run and well-struck penalty which got the game off and running, a 34th goal of the campaign for the Belgian.
Not only that, but it ensured he scored in every single Europa League game during Inter’s run: six in five en route to the final, then one in the Koln showpiece itself.
And yet the harsh reality is that two moments of his will define this trophyless season: a missed one-on-one chance in the second half at one end to put Inter back ahead, then his foot diverting Carlos’ overhead kick into the net at the other end to give Sevilla the win.
Sevilla’s Lucas Ocampos has been linked with a big-money move this summer, as has Inter’s Lautaro Martinez.
But the one who has already sorted his future and is on his way to pastures new is Ever Banega: Sevilla’s metronomic, argumentative, brilliant, aggressive controller.
He’s off, seemingly unbelievably given his recent form, to Al Shabab, a move on his own terms and at the time of his choosing.
Many clubs around Europe could do with a player of his calibre. Sevilla on the night had it and his delivery from deep, as well as his ability to dictate play even when not at his absolute, untouchable best, will be sorely missed from tomorrow onwards.
Silverware returns at last
Back-to-back winners in ‘06 and 07. Three straight wins from 2014 to ‘16. And now, in 2020, the most memorable of years for all manner of reasons, a sixth victory in the compettion.
LaLiga’s favourite cup sons have enjoyed great success in the Europa League, but these actual players had largely not done so.
It’s a new group, but they have continued the club traditions. It’s a new manager, but he has proven his worth as others have before Julen Lopetegui.
Sevilla and Inter Milan will both be in the Champions League next season, but only the former will be doing so as winners of a European trophy—or of any trophy at all in 2019/20.