RC Lens 2-1 Sevilla: Late Fulgini strike confirms Sevilla’s torrid exit from European football

Both sides came into this final UEFA Champions League group game on the back of contrasting fortunes. Lens were held to a goalless draw away at Montpellier in Ligue 1 last time out, while Sevilla have struggled domestically in La Liga; their latest defeat being a 1-0 loss to Real Mallorca. Both teams had a chance to play in the UEFA Europa League in 2024; Lens needed to avoid defeat, while Sevilla needed a win to play in the competition they won last season. 

LEN: Samba; Gradit, Danso, Medina; Aguilar, Mendy, Samed, Frankowski; Sotoca, Costa, Wahi

SEV: Dmitrovic; Sanchez, Gudelj, Ramos, Salas, Pedrosa; Soumare, Sow, Rakitic; Torres, En Nesyri

With a Europa League reprieve at stake, both sides needed a good start to this contest in Pas-de-Calais, and it would be Diego Alonso’s Sevilla who started the brighter. Ivan Rakitic’s early corner in from the right was headed just wide by Sergio Ramos – a chance that the Spaniard wouldn’t usually miss. 

Moments later, an indirect free-kick was given Sevilla’s way after Kevin Danso’s back pass in the Lens box, but Nemanja Gudelj’s effort was straight into the Lens wall. 

The away side continued to dominate, and by the 29th minute, they almost had the lead to show for it, as Ivan Rakitic sent a shot sizzling towards the top corner, but Brice Samba was on hand to pull off a brilliant save. 

The start of the second half saw a much brighter showing from Franck Haise’s side, with Elye Wahi played through on goal and firing towards the far post by Florian Sotoca, only for the Frenchman to be ruled offside. Lens could have had a penalty kick in their favour minutes after, but referee Felix Zwayer waved away the appeals after David Costa went down in the box.

Sevilla also had an excellent chance to take the lead with just ten minutes gone in the second half, but Adria Pedrosa’s flicked effort came agonisingly back off the bar. 

After having one penalty appeal turned down, Lens did have a spot kick awarded to them after Boubakary Soumare was adjudged to have tripped David Costa. After VAR consultation, referee Felix Zwayer stuck with his decision, and Przemyslaw Frankowski stepped up to smash the ball home past Marko Dmitrovic – a golden goal for the French side and one that their start to the second half had warranted.

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Sevilla knew they were in danger of departing European football altogether this season, and they almost found a way back into the game, but Youssef En-Nesyri’s effort from Oliver Torres’ flick-on failed to troubled Brice Samba in the Lens goal. 

However, Diego Alonso’s side were given a route back into the game after Youssef En-Nesyri was challenged in the box by Facundo Medina. Sergio Ramos stepped up to take the spot kick, but it was saved superbly by Brice Samba. 

However, soon after the save, the penalty had to be retaken as Samba came off his line too early. The experienced Ramos stepped up once again and chipped the ball into the back of the net to give Sevilla a very big lifeline. 

With just one minute of stoppage time to go, Lens grabbed the goal that would seal Sevilla’s exit from European football. A long ball played out to the left hand side found Lens substitute Angelo Fulgini, and the Frenchman made his way into the Sevilla box to smash the ball home past Marko Dmitrovic. 

A night of Lens celebrations commenced, as they could start planning for life in the Europa League in February; ironically at the expense of last season’s champions, who waved goodbye to European football for this season.

Both sides return to league action next time out, with Lens hosting Reims in Ligue 1 this Saturday at 8pm UK time, while Sevilla host Granada on the same date at 5:30pm UK time in LaLiga.