Here was the archetypal Jose Mourinho performance on the biggest stage. The blueprint that had won him Champions Leagues, a Europa League, a UEFA Cup and a Conference Leagues was what Roma entrusted to carry themselves to glory in Budapest. It was ultimately what cost them. This competition remains Sevilla's. The mystique of Mourinho ebbed away after a match that will rank among the most dispiriting trudges through three hours masquerading as entertainment anyone could imagine.
This was a final that Roma were determined to sweat every little detail they could find: riling the officials, milking the clock, dallying in possession. In all of their obsession with the marginal gains they seemed to miss the most blindingly obvious way in which they could emerge victorious, their superior football players playing better football than their opponent. The team that cut their way to the lead through Paulo Dybala's 34th-minute strike were far more authoritative and inventive, more than capable of killing off this contest swiftly. Instead, they attacked time. It cost them, Sevilla dragging this contest to a penalty shootout where they were exemplary, Roma woeful.
Mourinho against an opponent who only briefly sparked into life this season to save themselves from relegation never promised to be a barn burner but even with the bar set at pitch level, this match frequently managed to squeak under it. The six-time winners from Spain lacked any real guile to break down a Roma side who sprung back into shape whenever the ball was lost, challenging Jesus Navas and company to sling crosses toward their three-man defense.
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Roma were hardly overflowing with creativity themselves but for 67 minutes they had this contest's sole quicksilver talent. Had he been fully fit, Dybala might well have been able to propel this final beyond the mundanity, carrying the Giallorossi across the line by the weight of his individual brilliance alone. A more proactive performance from his opener onwards would certainly have made Roma's task easier.
Mourinho's men had been dictating the territory and chances, their hemming of Sevilla into their own third forcing their opponents into blind alleys. One of those saw Ivan Rakitic crash into Bryan Cristante, Gianluca Mancini emerging with possession and delivering an incisive through ball for Dybala. If he had more minutes in his legs the Argentine might not have scuffed his left-footed strike as he did but that rather worked to his advantage, taking the ball out of the reach of Yassine Bounou.
There was an hour or more to go and yet Roma's response to claiming the final's higher ground was to immediately bunker in and attempt to ride out a storm of their own making. Not since 2003 had a Mourinho side conceded a goal in a European final, the last to do so Henrik Larsson against Porto back when this was the UEFA Cup. The Special One himself had noted that history would not be on the pitch in Budapest on Wednesday so why did his team play like one convinced that they were destined not to concede?
So anemic were they in attack that Sevilla were going to need a hatful of chances to create something that would really threaten Rui Patricio's goal. Roma insisted on handing them out by the dozen. From the moment they scored, they became everything Mourinho's greatest critics view his football as being: cautious, mean-spirited, and frequently unwatchable.
Rather than play the game they insisted on playing the officials, Lorenzo Pellegrini hurling himself in the direction of Ivan Rakitic's leg after Dybala had found him in a dangerous position in the penalty area. Under remorseless pressure from both sides, Anthony Taylor did well to keep his head. He might not have got every decision right on first viewing, his swift correction of what he initially viewed as a penalty for a foul by Roger Ibanez on Lucas Ocampos might serve as an advertisement for the VAR protocol done right. Anyway, he could be forgiven the initial error in light of the continual sniping in his ears from Roma players and coaching staff, though Sevilla were no angels in that regard either.
The halftime introduction of Suso brought a degree more spark to the Sevilla attack but in reality, their equalizer didn't come about due to any great invention, but rather the sheer fact that if you smash a wall time after time you will eventually poke a hole in it. Jesus Navas' cross flew into the corridor of uncertainty, Mancini feeling compelled to put a boot on the ball, only to guide it past Rui Patricio.
Roma perked back into life as they slipped back to parity. Tammy Abraham, largely bypassed in this contest, could not find enough room to beat Bounou at close range. His replacement, Andrea Bellotti, delivered a rusty volley off a shrewdly taken free kick as this game trudged through 41 insipid minutes -- and it felt like so, so many more -- towards penalties.
Those will doubtless fuel more resentment from Mourinho, who will not have taken well to Gonzalo Montiel being given a second chance to win from 12 yards out as Rui Patricio was adjudged to have encroached. By that time Mancini, whose superb assist must have felt a lifetime ago, had slapped a low effort into Bounou's legs and Ibanez struck the post. The tears of youngster Edoardo Bove said it all as Sevilla bounced across the Puskas Arena in shocked exuberance. Both sides knew how close Roma had been to winning this all, how playing in the Mourinho way had seen them fritter it away.