Player Ratings | Lens 2-1 Sevilla: Les Sang et Or secure Europa League qualification thanks to late Angelo Fulgini winner

UEFA Champions League, 12/12/2023

Both teams were eliminated from progressing to the next round as they lined up for one last night soundtracked by the Champions League anthem, but there was still the matter to settle of who would clinch third place and qualify for the Europa League. 

RC Lens needed only a draw to play European football in the new year, whilst Sevilla FC, the current holders of the Europa League, would leapfrog their opponents into third with a win.  This outcome was one option for those sports betting online.

Sevilla looked to dominate the ball against their nervous hosts who started the game with a litany of uncharacteristic errors – personified by Kevin Danso and Brice Samba combining to commit a backpass. These mistakes added an edginess to an otherwise cauldron-like atmosphere at the Stade Bollaert-Delelis. 

Lens struggled to create attacks and were pushed back into a deep shape as they conceded seven corners in the first half. Each set piece allowed Sergio Ramos to put his stamp on the game as he engaged in an on-running duel with his marker Facundo Medina, and managed to rile up both the Lens side and the crowd like the perfect pantomime villain. 

Despite their control of the ball, recording at the halfway point 69% possession, Sevilla had only produced one excellent chance that forced an equally brilliant save from Samba meaning Lens still controlled the fate of the tie with the scores level. 

After the break, there was a shift in the feeling of the game, as the Spanish side lost some of their early momentum, while the hosts looked like a more composed outfit. This did not translate to Lens creating more chances, but their defensive shape was far better at restricting Sevilla. 

This improvement without the ball rewarded the French side with an opportunity to go ahead. Lens turned a dispossession into a fast counter, with Elye Wahi released into space to run at the Sevilla backline. The striker entered the box and then laid the ball off to the onrushing Medina. The centreback was brought down with minimal contact but it was enough to convince the referee of a penalty. 

Frankowski stepped up for the opportunity to put his side ahead and duly obliged, opening the scoring for Lens on a night where they had failed to threaten. The lead did not last particularly long as Medina brought down Youssef En-Nesyri in another penalty decision that seemed somewhat soft. 

Ramos took the penalty and his effort was saved as well his follow-up by the quick reactions of Samba. It was an incredible moment for the goalkeeper that was ultimately in vain as VAR stepped in to rule that the keeper had been off his line when the penalty was taken. Ramos found the net with his next attempt to level the scores and give his side hope. 

The final moments of the game were to be split between Lens defending the result and Sevilla desperately searching for a second that would secure them a place back into their familiar tournament. 

The visitors pushed higher and higher and were ultimately caught out by a mistake on the ball from Adrià Pedrosa when his heavy touch was leapt on by Florian Sotoca who capitalised on the lack of numbers left to defend. Sotoca passed to Angelo Fulgini to score the winner and provide Lens with European football in the new year. 

Lens player ratings
Brice Samba – 6
Facundo Medina – 3 – looked as if the occasion got the better of him at times. He was far too involved in his long-running battle with Ramos which felt like a risk that would reward the opponents. His movement was crucial in creating Lens’ opening goal, but his attitude also led to Sevilla getting back into the game. 
Kevin Danso – 5 – a nervous start to the match was eventually rescued by a more composed showing. He was vital in preventing Sevilla from turning their dominance in possession into goal-scoring opportunities. 
Jonathan Gradit – 7
Przemysław Frankowski – 6 – a solid performance. Rarely put a foot wrong, and scored in a high-pressure moment. 
Salis Abdul Samed – 5
Neil El Aynaoui – 5 – replaced Nampalys Mendy early in the game due to injury. 
Ruben Aguilar – 5
David Pereira da Costa – 4 – had very little impact both in and out of possession.
Florian Sotoca – 5
Elye Wahi – 5 – had a lack of service throughout the match, but showed his importance when Lens were out of possession. 
Sevilla selected player ratings
Sergio Ramos – 6 – worked well to disrupt Lens in the first half and was a continuous threat at set pieces. His performance faded somewhat in the second half but that was more because Sevilla had less dead ball opportunities. 
Ivan Rakitić – 5 – the biggest threat for Sevilla, and looked to have the best chances for the team from open play. 
Youssef En-Nesyri – 4 – anonymous despite the early dominance from his team. His biggest involvement was that he was brought down by Medina for the penalty. 

GFFN | Nick Hartland


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