Sevilla have scraped into the Champions League by the skin of their teeth as a stoppage time winner from youngster Rodri gave the club a 3-2 victory over Almeria to cement them the coveted fourth place.
Eyebrows were raised as the youngster was brought on a substitute by manager Antonio Álvarez ahead of Brazilian international Luis Fabiano.
With Real Mallorca coasting to a 2-0 victory over Espanyol, it seemed as if the Islanders were destined for the big dance of the Champions League, especially with Almeria levelling against The Rojiblancos with just over ten minutes to play.
Sevilla opened the scoring after former Tottenham Hotspur striker Freddie Kanoute gave The Sevillistas the lead after heading home a fantastic cross from Jesus Navas into the bottom right hand corner of Esteban’s goal.
Juan Manuel Lillo’s side equalised a minute before the interval thanks to Fernando Soriano’s sweetly struck volley before Sevilla regained the lead thanks to an own goal from defender Chico.
Former Real Madrid striker Alvaro Negrado was sent off for Sevilla with 25 minutes to go for dissent after insulting the linesman who flagged him offside.
The 10 men were stunned after once again pegged back with twelve minutes of normal time to go thanks to a fabulous strike from Juanma Ortiz which gave Andres Palop in goal no chance.
The visitors hoisted a host of their players into Almeria’s half to try and save their dyeing dream of competing in Europe’s premier competition. Almeria Ortiz squandered a number of chances for the hosts as they tried to finish off The Nervionenses on the counter attack.
As Real Mallorca’s players embraced one another at the ONO Estadi following their victory, they witnessed their dream vanish before their eyes as they watched the events unfold from the Estadio del Mediterraneo via the big screen along with their supporters.
The unlikeliest of heroes for Sevilla as Rodri smashed the ball into the net with seconds of stoppage reaming. The 19 year old who has been brought up through the clubs academy took off his shirt in an eruption of emotion as his piers embraced him with pure jubilation. It was a contrast to the scenes back in Mallorca as The Barralets players sunk to their knees as their dream of being with Europes elite evaporated.
Nevertheless a remarkable season for RCD Mallorca who were applauded off the field by their supporters. They will still have European football to look forward to next season via the Europa League.
Antonio Alvarez has done a remarkable job for Sevilla since taking over, winning six of his ten games in charge. The caretaker boss has steered the club into the holy grail of the Champions League with no assurance at all over his future.
He will no prepare his side for their Copa Del Ray final on Wednesday night at the Camp Nou against newly crowned Europa League champions Atletico Madrid. Whatever the result mid-week, it has been an enthralling campaign for both clubs.