Sevilla made in two titles on the trot, just as they had done in 2006 and 2007 in the old Uefa Cup format, defeating a Dnipro side who confounded all expectations to reach the final. In an entertaining final, the Rojiblancos won 3-2, with Carlos Bacca emerging as the hero with two goals.
As well as teams from Russia and Ukraine being banned from being drawn against each other, sides from Israel were also prohibited from hosting any Uefa competition matches due to the ongoing Gaza conflict. From this season onwards, teams would be required to adhere to Financial Fair Play rules, while the famous vanishing spray was introduced for the first time. In a tournament that was increasingly rewarding smaller sides with a European adventure, Torino, Feyenoord, Guingamp, Saint-Étienne, Rio Ave, Dynamo Moscow, Krasnodar, Lokeren, Asteras Tripoli, Qarabağ, HJK, Astra Giurgiu, Dinamo Minsk, AaB, and Wolfsburg made their debuts in the Europa League group stage that season, although Wolfsburg had featured previously in the knockout stages after being demoted from the Champions League.
Sevilla started the defence of their title in a tricky groups, taking on Feyenoord, Rijeka and Standard Liege and in the end they progressed in second behind the Dutch outfit.
Six sides impressively went through to the knockout stages without losing a match - Borussia Monchengladbach, Club Brugge, Besiktas, Red Bull Salzburg, Dynamo Moscow, and Inter. The biggest win came via Steaua Bucuresti who destroyed Aab 6-0.
The Round of 32 produced some intriguing ties; Celtic were paired with Inter, and it would be the Serie A side who would progress 4-3 on aggregate after a Fredy Guarin thunderbolt in the second leg. Tottenham were eliminated by Fiorentina, Mo Salah on target for La Viola, while a Gervinho goal sent Roma through at the expense of Feyenoord. Liverpool were surprisingly defeated by Besiktas, on penalties, while goals from Salomon Rondon and Hulk were enough for Zenit to see off PSV. Everton, Villarreal and Napoli all eased through, too.
The Round of 16, just as the season prior, produced some mouthwatering country clashes. In-form Villarreal were no match for the tournament masters, Sevilla, while a superb second leg display from Fiorentina, winning 3-0 in Rome, sent them into the last eight. Everton were thrashed by Dynamo Kiev, racking up five goals in the second leg to go through comfortably, while Dnipro needed extra-time to get past Ajax on away goals.
You have to live in the present or else you don’t enjoy the moment. We have done a lot and we should celebrate what we have done here tonight.Unai Emery
The competition begun to heat up at the quarter-final stage. Sevilla and Zenit played out a thrilling, well-match tie that came down to a Kevin Gameiro goal in the closing minutes in Russia to send Sevilla onwards 4-3 on aggregate. Napoli put down a marker by dismantling Wolfsburg, Gonzalo Higuain and Marek Hamsik on target, while Dnipro’s journey continued, knocking out Club Brugge in a low-scoring tie. Fiorentina completed the semi-final line-up.
Napoli, so prolific in front of goal, were expected to brush aside the unfashionable Dnipro but struggled against the defensive-minded Ukrainians, who made it through 2-1 on aggregate. In the other tie Sevilla destroyed Fiorentina 5-0 over the two legs to move within touching distance of retaining their crown.
The final of the 2014-15 Europa League campaign took place on 27 May in the National Stadium in Warsaw. Dnipro were making history, reaching the final of a European competition for the first time, and only the third Ukrainian team ever to feature in a final after Shakhtar Donetsk (2009 Europa League) and Dynamo Kyiv (representing the Soviet Union in the 1975 and 1986 Cup Winners’ Cup finals).
Nikola Kalinic sent Dnipro ahead after just seven minutes but Grzegorz Krychowiak equalised before Carlos Bacca put Sevilla in front before half-time. The determined Ukrainians equalised through a Ruslan Rotan free-kick, but Bacca proved to be the hero, scoring again to secure another Europa League title for Sevilla.
PLAYER OF THE SEASON
The Poland international marshalled the Sevilla midfield with style and even got a vital goal in the final.
MANAGER OF THE SEASON
The Ukrainian made sure his Dnipro players put the unrest at home behind them to rally to a deserved final place.
YOUNG PLAYER OF THE SEASON
Despite Everton going out at the last-16 stage, the Belgian still found himself as joint top-scorer when the competition ended.
ALAN, ROMELU LUKAKU - 8 GOALS
TEAM OF THE SEASON
RICO; DOUGLAS, ALBIOL, KOLODZIEJCZAK, VIDAL; BANEGA, KRYCHOWIAK, ROTAN; ALAN, BACCA, KONOPLYANKA.
GOAL OF THE SEASON
ERIK LAMELA made headlines all around Europe with this strike, a rabona from the edge of the box sweetly nestled into the corner. Glorious and unconventional.
KEY MOMENT OF THE SEASON
With nine minutes left on the clock in Italy, Yevhen Seleznov popped up to score a vital away goal for Dnipro against Napoli, making it 1-1 on the night. It knocked the stuffing out of the Serie A side, who failed to recover in the second leg.