Liverpool loses 3-1 to Sevilla in Europa League final

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Football Soccer - Liverpool v Sevilla - UEFA Europa League Final - St. Jakob-Park, Basel, Switzerland - 18/5/16 Sevilla celebrate with the trophy after winning the UEFA Europa League Final Reuters / Michael Dalder Livepic EDITORIAL USE ONLY.
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In the end, the clock on Liverpool's Cinderella story struck midnight before the Europa League final was over. The Reds' first-half dominance and lead and ignored penalty claims turned into a 3-1 loss to Sevilla before the final whistle rang out.

[ Europa League final: Follow the action as it happened | Match statistics ]

Never mind Daniel Sturridge's wonder goal. Sevilla would win this tournament for a third time in a row, courtesy of Kevin Gameiro's equalizer and a pair of Coke goals. That made Sevilla the first club since the 1970s to win a European tournament three times consecutively, even if it is the second-tier Europa League.

And since either Real Madrid or Atletico Madrid will win the Champions League on May 28, this will mark the third season in a row that both European tournaments were won by a Spanish club.

Before the action even kicked off, scuffles broke out in the neutral section of the stands. Things apparently got heated when Sevilla fans booed Liverpool's "You'll Never Walk Alone" anthem.

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And then a game of soccer broke out that was every bit as energetic. In the 11th minute, Daniel Carrico overhead-kicked a ball off his own line on Sturridge's header to save a goal. But on the next play, he handled the ball in his own box on a Roberto Firmino play. There was no call.

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Liverpool, incredibly, would be denied three more plausible penalties before halftime.

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And fortune appeared to be toying with the Reds when Kevin Gameiro attempted a difficult bicycle kick with his back to their goal just after the half hour. But his acrobatic attempt zipped just wide.

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And then Liverpool got the goal it deserved for a fairly dominant first half. Philippe Coutinho teed up Sturridge in the box, after preparatory work by Firmino. Sturridge unloosed a soft but well-placed shot with the outside of his left boot, curling the ball inside the far post. The glass-legged striker's finish was splendid.

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The Reds, however, failed to put the game away before the intermission. Dejan Lovren's header beat goalkeeper Soria but was disallowed. Sturridge was offside and tried to redirect the ball, and even though he didn't touch it, he was active in the play. It probably would have gone in and stood if he'd left it alone.

Yet in spite of several more Liverpool chances, the margin was a lone goal going into the half. The Reds would be punished severely for their negligence with their scoring chances.

It took Sevilla just 15 seconds to equalize after the break. Mariano scampered away on the right after a weak clearance on the first play of the half. He nutmegged Alberto Moreno, beat Coutinho and supplied Gameiro with a simple goal.

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Liverpool was rattled, and Gameiro had another chance that was diffused by the suddenly ageless Kolo Toure.

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After Sevilla was once again spared a penalty on a handball in its own box, Gameiro had a point-blank volley. But his scuffed shot was parried by goalkeeper Simon Mignolet.

And then, in the 64th minute, Coke scored the winner. Vitolo combined his way through the middle of the park before Coke swooped in to curl the ball behind Mignolet from outside the box.

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In the 70th, he got another. A ball deflected to him in an apparent offside position. But it came off a Liverpool player, rendering him onside. Mignolet couldn't get enough on his hard shot to stop it.

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And so Liverpool's resurgence under Jurgen Klopp – who took over from the dismissed Brendan Rodgers in October – came up 45 minutes short. It was a cruel fate, an unlucky lot, but no less deserved by a savvy Sevilla and its brilliant manager Unai Emery for a spirited second half.

The Reds will feel aggrieved by all of those non-calls, but their profligacy in front of goal and their implosion after halftime hardly helped their case. There would be no second-half miracle, like in the 2005 Champions League final in Istanbul. This time, Liverpool would be the side to give away the commanding outlook.

For the eighth time since 2004, a Spanish club won the Europa League. And for the fifth time in 11 years, it was Sevilla, soccer's unnoticed dynasty.

Leander Schaerlaeckens is a soccer columnist for Yahoo Sports. Follow him on Twitter @LeanderAlphabet.