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May 5, 2016 at 8.05pm UK at ​Estadio Ramón Sánchez Pizjuán
ShakhtarShakhtar Donetsk
Gameiro (9', 47'), Ferreira (59')
FT(HT: 1-1)
Eduardo (44')

Preview: Sevilla vs. Shakhtar Donetsk

Sports Mole previews Thursday's Europa League semi-final second leg between Sevilla and Shakhtar Donetsk, with the tie locked at 2-2 at the halfway stage.

Sevilla will continue their quest for a third straight Europa League crown when they host Shakhtar Donetsk in the second leg of their semi-final on Thursday.

The La Liga outfit hold the advantage at the halfway stage having registered two away goals in a 2-2 first-leg draw, with Kevin Gameiro's late penalty putting them in a strong position.


Vitolo celebrates the opener during the Europa League semi-final between Shakhtar Donetsk and Sevilla on April 28, 2016© AFP

In an ideal scenario, Sevilla may not have wanted to be in their current position after beginning the season in the Champions League.

However, having missed out to Manchester City and Juventus in the group stages, their focus quickly switched back to continuing their remarkable recent record in this competition.

Unai Emery's side have lifted the trophy in each of the last two seasons and this year are bidding to become the first club to ever win it three times in a row.

Indeed, it would be the first time that any club has won a hat-trick of any major European trophy since Bayern Munich won the European Cup three times on the bounce in the mid-1970s, and would also hand Sevilla an unprecedented fifth UEFA Cup/Europa League title.

History beckons for the club, then, but it isn't just the silverware that is up for grabs, with Sevilla's league position leaving them needing to win the trophy this term if they are to qualify for the Champions League again next season.

Even Europa League qualification looks unlikely via their league position now, with five points separating them from sixth-placed Celta Vigo and only two matches remaining in the La Liga season.

That follows a 1-0 defeat at the hands of Espanyol on Sunday, which means that Sevilla have now won just one of their last seven games in all competitions and have picked up just four points from the last 21 available to them domestically.

Things are different at home, however, where they have lost just two of their last 19 matches in all competitions, with one of those defeats coming in the last round of the Europa League when they still squeezed past Athletic Bilbao on penalties.

That result ended an 11-match home winning streak in the Europa League, but the most important thing was, of course, to qualify for a record third straight semi-final in Europe's second-tier competition.

They could now be just 90 minutes away from turning that into three straight finals should Emery avoid defeat or a high-scoring draw in his 100th European match as a manager.

Recent form: LDWWLD
Recent form (all competitions): LDLWDL

Shakhtar Donetsk

Shakhtar players celebrate scoring with a cheeky spot of coitus during the Europa League semi-final between Shakhtar Donetsk and Sevilla on April 28, 2016© AFP

Having conceded an away goal after just six minutes of the first leg, Shakhtar may have been forgiven for fearing the worst against a Sevilla side so experienced at this stage of this competition.

However, it took the hosts less than half an hour to turn the game on its head and regain an element of control over the tie through goals from Marlos and Taras Stepanenko.

A 2-1 scoreline would have been a fairly decent one for both sides, but Gameiro's penalty eight minutes from time swung things right back into Sevilla's favour and Shakhtar will know that they have a lot of work to do in this second leg.

Their recent form suggests that they are capable of pulling it off, with the visitors going into Thursday's match on a nine-match unbeaten streak that has seen them score 27 goals.

Perhaps the most impressive of the lot came on Sunday as they ended a run of three consecutive draws by beating title rivals Dynamo Kiev - who had conceded just seven goals all season before the weekend - 3-0 in an ill-tempered match that saw three players sent off.

That was enough to keep the title race alive going into the final two games of the season, although with Kiev still four points clear of Shakhtar it would take a collapse from the leaders for Mircea Lucescu's side to overhaul them.

A Champions League place is at least secured for next season, but Shakhtar will want to add a first European trophy since they won the final edition of the UEFA Cup in 2009 having won five and drawn two of their matches since dropping into this year's competition.

They boast a 100% record on the road in the Europa League this season, beating Schalke, Anderlecht and Sporting Braga, while in all competitions they have only lost one of their nine away matches since the turn of the year.

Sevilla represent a step up in quality from many of those opponents, though, and Shakhtar may need one of the best performances of Lucescu's 12-year reign if they are to reach the final and keep their faint hopes of a treble alive.

Recent form: WWWWWD
Recent form (all competitions): WWDDDW

Team News

Yevhen Konoplyanka of Sevilla celebrates scoring the opening goal during the UEFA Champions League Group D match between Manchester City and Sevilla at Etihad Stadium on October 21, 2015 in Manchester, United Kingdom© Getty Images

Sevilla boss Emery made 11 changes to his side for their La Liga clash with Espanyol at the weekend, and the vast majority of those rested are expected to return on Thursday.

Yevhen Konoplyanka knows Shakhtar better than most at Sevilla from his time with Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk, and he is likely to be among those restored to the starting XI.

First-leg goalscorers Vitolo and Gameiro will also come back in, while Daniel Carrico, who has played more matches in this competition than any other player in history, should return at the heart of the defence.

Michael Krohn-Dehli lasted only 13 minutes as a sub in the first leg and is unavailable for this match, joining Jose Antonio Reyes on the sidelines.

Shakhtar made eight changes of their own at the weekend, although their performance against Kiev may have been enough to convince Lucescu that some of those brought in should keep their place.

Eduardo da Silva will be particularly hopeful having scored twice, while Wellington Nem will also be pushing for a starting berth having got his side's second goal on Sunday.

Stepanenko was sent off in that match but is available on Thursday, although Shakhtar will be without the suspended Fred and the injured trio of Marcio Azevedo, Dentinho and Olexandr Gladkiy.

Sevilla possible starting lineup:
Soria; Mariano, Rami, Carrico, Escudero; Krychowiak, N'Zonzi, Vitolo, Banega, Konoplyanka; Gameiro

Shakhtar possible starting lineup:
Pyatov; Srna, Kucher, Rakitskiy, Ismaily; Malyshev, Stepanenko, Marlos, Kovalenko, Taison; Eduardo

Head To Head

These two sides had met in one previous tie before they were drawn together this year, and it was a memorable encounter in the last 16 of the 2006-07 UEFA Cup.

They played out a 2-2 draw in the first leg in Spain before Sevilla keeper Andres Palop scored a stoppage-time equaliser in Ukraine to force extra time, with Ernesto Chevanton winning it for the Spanish outfit in the additional 30 minutes.

That is one of six matches unbeaten against Ukrainian opposition for Sevilla, which also includes victory over Dnipro in last season's final. Shakhtar, meanwhile, have won just four of their 22 previous meetings with Spanish opposition and have two wins, four draws and five defeats at home.

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We say: Sevilla 1-1 Shakhtar Donetsk

Sevilla have not been in the best form of late, but they know how to get the job done at this stage of the competition and the advantage lies in their favour after the first leg. Shakhtar are still very much in the tie, but we feel that Sevilla will do just enough to get through.

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Who will reach the Europa League final, Sevilla or Shakhtar?

Jose Antonio Reyes of Sevilla is tackled by Jaba Kankava of Dnipro during the UEFA Europa League Final match between FC Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk and FC Sevilla on May 27, 2015
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