West Ham have confirmed the permanent signing of Alphonse Areola from Paris Saint-Germain after the goalkeeper impressed during a loan spell at the London Stadium last season.

Areola kept eight clean sheets in 18 games for West Ham during the 2021-22 campaign, including 11 appearances during the Irons' run to the Europa League semi-finals.

David Moyes' side will play in Europe again next term, having qualified for the Europa Conference League by finishing seventh in the Premier League, and have moved to consolidate their goalkeeping options with the permanent acquisition of the 29-year-old.

Having signed a five-year contract with an option for a further season, Areola told the club's website: "I feel good, I feel great, I'm happy to sign and happy to stay here permanently, and I can't wait to start to train and to do the job.

"The main thing is that I felt the love of the supporters last season. Something for me that is really important is to feel that I'm loved. 

"I know that I have to do my job and to do everything to make them happy, and obviously also the team, my team-mates, the staff and [goalkeeping coach] Xavi Valero as well. The vibe of last season was great, so I just wanted to do everything to stay here.

"When I'm signing with a club, I want to feel that it's like my second family. Obviously, we're here every day and we are sharing lots of time together, so I have to feel comfortable with everyone and feel them comfortable with me as well, so I just feel comfortable here."

Meanwhile, Moyes hopes the experience of Areola, who has three senior caps for France and was part of Les Blues' 2018 World Cup-winning squad, will prove invaluable for the Hammers.

"Alphonse made a huge contribution to the club during his loan spell last season. His performances backed up why we see him as a top goalkeeper," Moyes said.

"He brings proven quality and experience at the highest level, both on the domestic and international scene. We're delighted he's with us permanently and look forward to welcoming him back for pre-season."

West Ham, who also signed Rennes defender Nayef Aguerd last week, kick off their 2022-23 Premier League campaign at home to defending champions Manchester City on August 7.

Mario Gotze expressed his excitement at returning to the Champions League after sealing his transfer to Europa League winners Eintracht Frankfurt. 

The 30-year-old former Borussia Dortmund and Bayern Munich man has returned to the Bundesliga for a reported €4million fee after spending two years with Eredivisie giants PSV.

Frankfurt confirmed the midfielder had signed a three-year deal on Tuesday, as Oliver Glasner looks to strengthen his squad for next season's Champions League campaign.

Speaking to the club's website, Gotze said: "I'm incredibly excited about joining Eintracht Frankfurt. This club have made remarkable progress and have started out on an exciting and ambitious path, on which I can now accompany them. 

"This club have a great foundation. From the stadium to the fans to the city, everything is just to my liking. I'm really looking forward to my return to the Bundesliga, as well as the chance to play in the Champions League."

Gotze, who has won 63 caps for Germany, scored the only goal of his country's 2014 World Cup final win over Argentina, earning Die Mannschaft their fourth world title.

Board member Markus Krosche told the club's media channels: "The fact that a player like Mario Gotze has chosen, with full conviction, Eintracht Frankfurt over numerous other offers, speaks volumes for the outstanding image that the club has built over the past few years.

"I don't need to say much about his footballing qualities. We've been lacking a player of his type. Mario's technical ability will help our game enormously."

As well as being seeded for next season's Champions League group stage, Frankfurt will face Real Madrid in August's UEFA Super Cup in Helsinki after beating Rangers on penalties in Seville last month.

One of the worst-kept secrets in football is out in the open after Manchester United confirmed Paul Pogba's second stint at the club is coming to an end.

The France star departed for Juventus back in 2012 before returning to Old Trafford in an £89million deal four years later.

Few Premier League players have proven as enigmatic as Pogba, with the 29-year-old capable of incredible individual brilliance but frequently subjected to fierce criticism throughout his difficult second spell at United.

From a World Cup success to sparring with Jose Mourinho, Stats Perform looks back on the highs and lows of Pogba's second spell with United.

High: Cup glory in triumphant first season

Pogba played his part as Mourinho, also in his first season at the club, led United to what remain their most recent major trophies.

The Frenchman made 51 appearances in all competitions as the Red Devils scooped an EFL Cup and Europa League double, ensuring Champions League qualification despite a sixth-placed Premier League finish. 

After starting United's 3-2 Wembley triumph over Southampton in February 2017, Pogba opened the scoring as United beat Ajax 2-0 to lift their second piece of silverware of the season in May, as the Red Devils won their sixth major European honour.

High: Conquering the centurions as City's celebrations put on hold

Manchester City's 2017-18 Premier League campaign was record-breaking in many ways, with Pep Guardiola's men becoming the only side to pick up 100 points in the competition, the first to win 32 of their 38 games, and the first to win 18 consecutive matches as they romped to the title.

They also, however, missed out on wrapping up the sweetest of title triumphs in a Manchester derby – a fact which owed primarily to a rampant performance from Pogba.

With City 2-0 up at half-time and seemingly cruising to the win they required to wrap up the title at a jubilant Etihad Stadium in April 2018, Pogba scored twice in two second-half minutes before Chris Smalling completed a sensational comeback, as United put the City celebrations on ice. 

High: World Cup glory with France

United finished the 2017-18 season as Premier League runners-up, with Pogba registering six goals and 12 assists in 37 appearances throughout the campaign.

And the midfielder carried that form into the 2018 World Cup in Russia, scoring in a 4-2 final win over Croatia as Les Blues were crowned world champions for the second time – his strike was the first goal scored from outside the penalty area in a World Cup final since Italy's Marco Tardelli did so against West Germany in 1982.

Pogba started six of the seven games France played during their triumphant campaign, but any hopes he may have harboured of building on those displays with his club were soon proven to be misplaced…

Low: Sparring with Mourinho as the world watches on

Reports of Pogba and Mourinho possessing a strained relationship were widespread during the Portuguese boss's time at the club, and such tensions were laid bare for the world to see in September 2018.

After an Instagram post appearing to show Pogba laughing with team-mates Luke Shaw and Andreas Pereira while United fell to an EFL Cup loss to Derby County, Sky Sports' cameras captured Mourinho discussing the incident with a visibly irked Pogba on the training ground.

It was not a good look as United struggled desperately in Mourinho's final months at the helm, with the former Chelsea boss relieved of his duties with the Red Devils sat sixth in the Premier League in December 2018.

Low: Penalty woe in 2021

Pogba enjoyed a renaissance of sorts under Mourinho's successor Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, ending the Norwegian's first half-season in charge with 13 league goals and nine assists, making 2018-19 his most productive campaign in a Red Devils shirt.

But Solskjaer's men frequently fell short on the big stage, most notably in their 2021 Europa League final loss to Villarreal, as David de Gea missed the vital kick at the end of a long penalty shoot-out after Pogba had been substituted for Dan James during extra-time.

That was not the only penalty heartache Pogba would experience in 2021, as France crashed out of the delayed Euro 2020 after a round-of-16 shoot-out loss to Switzerland, with Kylian Mbappe failing from the spot as Pogba's stunning 25-yard strike counted for nought. 

 

Low: Seeing red in Liverpool rout

Pogba's final season at Old Trafford was one to forget, as United finished sixth in the Premier League with their lowest-ever points tally in the competition (58), and interim manager Ralf Rangnick ended his six-month tenure with the worst Premier League win rate of any United boss (41.7 per cent – 10 wins from 24 games).

But before Rangnick entered the United dugout, Pogba endured the ignominy of being sent off as Solskjaer's Red Devils fell to a dire 5-0 home loss to Liverpool in October 2021 – their heaviest home loss without scoring since a 5-0 thrashing by Manchester City in February 1955.

Pogba's dismissal came just 15 minutes after he entered the fray at the break, making him the first substitute to be sent off in a Premier League for over three years (since Marcus Rashford in September 2018).

 

Rangers say only the "mutual respect of both sets of fans" prevented more severe problems from occurring when the Europa League final was staged in Seville this month.

Eintracht Frankfurt were crowned champions when they beat the Glasgow giants 5-4 on penalties at Estadio Ramon Sanchez-Pizjuan on May 18.

Representatives of Rangers, the Bundesliga club and Football Supporters Europe (FSE) met last Friday to debrief and discuss "several significant organisational issues" during the final.

Rangers on Monday stated that fans were not treated with the respect and dignity that they should have been.

"Supporters Europe (FSE) met to debrief and discuss several significant organisational issues during the recent UEFA Europa League final in Sevilla," a club statement said.

"These issues could easily have led to even more severe problems on the night and it was only thanks to the calmness and mutual respect of both sets of fans towards each other that there were not more severe injuries suffered. All three parties applaud the remarkable calmness of the two fan bases, given the situation they faced.

"Apart from the severe lack of food and – even more critically in the soaring temperatures – of water, there were several organisational problems around policing, body searches and beyond. Both clubs, as well as FSE, received a huge amount of complaints and witness statements from fans present in the stadium.

"All three parties will now work jointly to report back to UEFA and the local public authorities in Spain, and will make recommendations to ensure these problems can never occur again at a European final.

"Fans spend a lot of effort, time and money following their teams all over Europe and expect to be treated with respect and dignity while attending football games. This expectation was not met at all at the Europa League final in Sevilla."

UEFA have come in for criticism following chaotic scenes outside the Stade de France ahead of the Champions League final between Real Madrid and Liverpool on Saturday.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang says he was disappointed with Arsenal's failure to qualify for the Champions League, as he had hoped to face his former club with Barcelona.

Despite enjoying an encouraging campaign under Mikel Arteta, Arsenal missed out on a top-four finish to fierce rivals Tottenham after losing two of their final three games of the Premier League season.

Their late-season collapse meant Arsenal have not finished in the Premier League's top four since Arsene Wenger's Gunners finished second to Leicester City in the 2015-16 campaign.

Aubameyang, meanwhile, departed the Emirates Stadium in January after four years at the club, scoring 13 goals in all competitions for Xavi's Barcelona as the Blaugrana secured second in LaLiga.

That return made the Gabon forward Barca's joint-top goalscorer for the campaign along with Memphis Depay, despite him making just 23 appearances since his arrival at Camp Nou.

Speaking to Sky Sports while attending the Monaco Grand Prix, the 32-year-old admitted he was sad to see his former club miss out on a place in European football's premier competition, but hopes they can impress upon their return to the Europa League. 

"Yeah, [they came] really close. I think they did a lot of improvements," Aubameyang said.

"I'm a bit sad because I wanted to play them in the Champions League. I have a lot of friends over there, but I'm wishing them all the best for next season.

"Obviously, I think it's going to be a good thing for them to get back to the Europa League as well, hopefully they can win it."

Teams from Belarus and Ukraine will not be drawn together in future, UEFA has announced.

European football's governing body has already banned Russian sides from appearing in its competitions following the country's invasion of Ukraine.

The role of Belarus in facilitating this invasion also prompted sanctions for Belarusian teams.

UEFA had already decided no matches would be played in Belarus and supporters of Belarusian teams would be banned from attending nominal home games.

And in a further move announced on Friday, UEFA said it would prevent sides from Belarus and Ukraine from meeting in future competitions.

"The UEFA Executive Committee will remain on standby to convene further meetings to reassess the legal and factual situation as it evolves and adopt further decisions as necessary," a statement read.

Meanwhile, UEFA's rules relating to coronavirus for the upcoming Women's Euro 2022 were approved.

Any players who contract COVID-19 or "who have been anyway put in isolation" will be classed as "cases of serious illness", meaning they can be replaced in their nation's squad ahead of the first match of the tournament.

Ralf Rangnick lamented another abject away showing from Manchester United at Crystal Palace, while he thanked Brighton and Hove Albion for helping the Red Devils to Europa League qualification.

United lost six consecutive away league matches for the first time since March 1981 after Wilfried Zaha's strike proved decisive in the 1-0 win for Crystal Palace on Sunday.

Erik ten Hag was in attendance at Selhurst Park and has much to ponder after United finished the Premier League season with a record-low points tally (58).

It was also the first time United did not end a league campaign with a positive goal difference (zero in 2021-22) for the first time since the 1989-90 season (minus-one).

However, Brighton came from behind to defeat top-six hopefuls West Ham, which meant United will be playing Europa League football next term under Ten Hag after finishing sixth in the league.

Rangnick, who will move into a consultancy role alongside his managerial job at Austria, expressed his gratitude to Graham Potter's side for overcoming David Moyes' West Ham.

"Yes, I think Brighton did us the favour to turn the game around because they were losing at half-time," he told reporters. 

"They scored three times in the second half and that was the good thing about the weekend and about this fixture.

"We would have loved to take care of ourselves but in a way the game was indicative of last couple of weeks, especially when we played away from home.

"It was a new experience for me, not necessarily coming in the middle of the season, but knowing that it would be an interim role. Unfortunately, we didn't have any pre-season and unfortunately, we couldn't strengthen the squad.

"These things happen and in hindsight, it was a little bit bittersweet or sweet bitter rather because in the first couple of weeks and months we did well.

"We collected enough points with an average of 2.1 until the game against Atletico [Madrid] but I think that defeat in the Champions League was in a way like somebody popped the balloon."

Rangnick also bemoaned United's away performance as they failed to capitalise on chances and allowed Palace to impose themselves on the contest.

"I think we had three good opportunities to score ourselves in the first half but we didn't and, especially in the first half, we had too many unforced errors and bad giveaways, that is the way we conceded the goal," he continued.

"In fact, it was our assist, the goalscorer, in the end, was Zaha but the ones who gave the assist were ourselves.

"There was a throw-in – just keep the ball into our own half – and the way we defended that shot was also not the way that you have to defend in this league and that's why we were trailing again 1-0.

"At half-time, we were trying to bring on all the young strikers we had on the bench. We had some opportunities in the second half but it was not clinical enough and that's why we lost again away from home."

Declan Rice and Christopher Nkunku have joined victorious Eintracht Frankfurt stars in headlining the Europa League's team of the season.

The selections for the competition's end-of-season awards were announced by UEFA on Friday, two days after Eintracht's final shootout triumph against Rangers.

Wing-backs Filip Kostic and Ansgar Knauff earned individual recognition, the former the player of the season and the latter the young player of the season.

But there was no room for Knauff in the best XI, with Rangers captain James Tavernier, the competition's leading scorer, preferred.

Tavernier had two Rangers colleagues in the team in Calvin Bassey and Ryan Kent, yet Kostic was one of four Eintracht players.

Penalty heroes Kevin Trapp and Rafael Borre made the cut, alongside defender Martin Hinteregger.

Perhaps the two biggest names included were beaten semi-finalists, however, with Rice and Nkunku – both set to be the subject of close-season transfer speculation – recognised.

Departing Napoli great Lorenzo Insigne did not make the side but was awarded the goal of the season his stunning strike against Legia Warsaw.

Europa League team of the season:

Kevin Trapp (Eintracht Frankfurt); Craig Dawson (West Ham), Martin Hinteregger (Eintracht Frankfurt), Calvin Bassey (Rangers); James Tavernier (Rangers), Konrad Laimer (RB Leipzig), Declan Rice (West Ham), Filip Kostic (Eintracht Frankfurt); Christopher Nkunku (RB Leipzig), Rafael Borre (Eintracht Frankfurt), Ryan Kent (Rangers).

Aaron Ramsey has the character to put his penalty miss in Rangers' Europa League final shoot-out defeat to Eintracht Frankfurt behind him, according to Wales boss Rob Page.

The on-loan Juventus midfielder, brought on in the second half of extra time, missed the only spot-kick as Frankfurt prevailed 5-4 in a game that finished level at 1-1 in Seville on Wednesday.

It marked the first time Rangers had tasted defeat on penalties in European competition since the 1999-2000 UEFA Cup when losing to Borussia Dortmund in the last 32.

Ramsey was visibly upset after Rafael Borre converted the decisive penalty for Frankfurt, who are the first German team to win the UEFA Cup or Europa League since Schalke in 1996-97.

But Page insists he has no worries about selecting the 31-year-old to take a penalty should Wales' upcoming World Cup qualifying play-off against either Scotland or Ukraine go the distance.

"I have no doubt whatsoever that if it comes to penalties that he will take one," Page said at a news conference on Thursday after naming his 27-man squad for that June 5 showdown in Cardiff.

Asked if he still has faith in Ramsey, Page said: "Absolutely, 100 per cent. It happens to the best in the world. Top players, they put themselves up.

"I am so proud of him for putting himself up [to take a penalty]. He is a world-class footballer. He had the courage and conviction to take a penalty. Top players recover from that, no problem."

Ramsey is part of Wales' latest squad, as is Gareth Bale, who will become a free agent when his Real Madrid contract expires in the coming weeks.

Bale's agent this week suggested a return to English football is the most likely option, with the forward aiming to keep fit ahead of November's World Cup should Wales qualify for the tournament for the first time in 64 years.

"I think everybody is probably thinking the same thing about his future," Page said. "It will depend on how results go with regards to what he does next season with a club.

"The only person who can answer that is Gareth. All I know is whenever he turns up for us he is first class. The full focus on himself is winning this game against Ukraine or Scotland, so he can worry about that after."

Bale has started just four games for Madrid in all competitions this season and has not been part of their matchday squad for any of their past five games because of a back problem.

The Wales skipper is back in training, however, and Page expects him to be part of Los Blancos' squad for next week's Champions League final against Liverpool in Paris.

"I think Gareth puts himself when he is fit to be available for Real Madrid like he does with us," Page said. "It is down to the manager then whether he wants to select him or not in the squad. 

"I think he is confident he will be involved and we will wait and see whether he is involved. We will then get him in camp as soon as we can."

An elated Kevin Trapp declared Wednesday the best day of his career, after Eintracht Frankfurt defeated Rangers in the Europa League final.

The Eagles had to come from a goal down after Joe Aribo's 57th minute opener, equalising through Rafael Borre to force extra-time before winning 5-4 in the penalty shootout.

After winning everything domestically in France over three seasons with Paris Saint-Germain, this is Trapp's first silverware with Eintracht Frankfurt over two stints at the club, only returning after their DFB Pokal win in 2018.

The 31-year-old was named player of the match and could not hide his joy, helping the German club win their first European trophy since 1980.

"I don’t have any words for that," Trapp said post-match. "I've tried to find them but it's impossible. We can present the trophy tomorrow in Frankfurt after 42 years. This is the best day of my career, truly. I'm so proud of our team.

"We were down and a lot of players had cramps. As I said, I have no words to describe this. We won a big international title – I thought I would cry. That didn’t happen, probably because it seems so unrealistic we're going home with a trophy. But for German football, I think we made everyone proud."

Trapp was a critical figure for Eintracht at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan, spectacularly denying Ryan Kent from close range in the 118th minute, before then denying Aaron Ramsey to set up Borre's deciding penalty in the shootout.

The Kent save was palpably important with penalties looming, denying Rangers from scoring in what was their best chance of the match despite Aribo's opening goal.

Trapp believes he was fortunate to make that save, but it gave him the necessary psychological boost coming into the penalty shootout.

After Eintracht lost to Chelsea on penalties in the 2018-19 semi-final, he was confident they would not suffer from the spot again.

"It would have been awful to concede in that situation but that’s why I'm there, to help team when they need," Trapp said. "I try that, to make myself as big as possible, but I was lucky. He could’ve shot higher, but that's all I can do.

"If you survive such a situation you do have the feeling you can win, and I had that feeling because the players felt we had to win this one. We lost dramatically to Chelsea on penalties, and this year we said we deserved it. We put so much work in – we had to win it, and this is why we did win it in the end."

Eintracht Frankfurt boss Oliver Glasner believes his side cannot reach a higher level, despite their Europa League final win over Rangers on Wednesday ensuring Champions League football next season.

Glasner was full of praise for his side, who battled from a goal down following Joe Aribo's 57th minute opener for Rangers to equalise via Rafael Borre and force extra-time at 1-1, before claiming a 5-4 penalty shootout win.

With the Europa League triumph, Eintracht will play in Europe's premier cup competition for the first time since 1960 - where they eventually lost 7-3 in the final to Real Madrid – despite finishing 11th in the Bundesliga this season.

According to Glasner however, his side's mentality is already that of a top team and as a result, he did not have to provide much instruction during intervals as the match progressed.

"No, there is next level, it's impossible," Glasner said post-match. "I have to say a bit more about that. This year started difficult, but the players kept believing in themselves, what we told them, what we trained.

"That shows the character, mentality they have. The spirit developed, today we had players who weren’t eligible for Europe but they were never negative, they were not selfish, they did everything for success. That's why I wasn’t surprised that even when it was difficult, our fans were louder than Rangers' and they pushed us forward."

"I told the players the most important thing is that the referee doesn’t stress us, we have to control rhythm and I said just go do your thing like we've done so far, and that's it."

After an intense first half, Eintracht started to see more of the ball as the game slowed down but it did not translate into substantial opportunities and Aribo's opener could have further deflated their play.

The Eagles maintained in approach and eventually restored parity through Borre, beating Calvin Bassey to the ball and direct Filip Kostic's cross home in the 69th minute.

Glasner also singled out the 26-year-old Colombian, who scored the equaliser and winning penalty after Aaron Ramsey's attempt in the shootout was saved by Kevin Trapp, claiming the performance and outcome is reflective of the work he puts in.

"Rafa is incredibly important, not only the goals but he works hard even defensively and at half-time we showed the players some situations from the first half," Glasner said. "We didn’t have the intensity in attack and Rangers defended that well.

"We had to invest everything, attack the front post and he did that very well. He ran and then had a really good chance. He fought really hard – he deserved it. He was great. He really helps us and is also a leader."

Rangers boss Giovanni van Bronckhorst stood by his decision to bring Kemar Roofe and Aaron Ramsey on as late substitutes following their penalties loss to Eintracht Frankfurt in Wednesday's Europa League final.

With scores locked at 1-1 after 90 minutes, Van Bronckhorst brought the two on in the 117th minute with penalties in mind. Ramsey was the only player to not convert his penalty, Kevin Trapp saving with his feet at 3-3, before Rafael Borre followed Roofe's spot-kick to secure a 5-4 shootout win for Eintracht.

It was the Gers' second Europa League final loss in as many appearances, following 2008's 2-0 loss to Zenit in Manchester.

According to Van Bronckhorst, despite evident disappointment in the changing rooms afterwards, his final list of penalty takers was impacted by a combination of factors including Borna Barisic's inability to take one of the penalties, and pre-match preparation.

"It was tough, physically, but the players gave everything and gave all their effort on the pitch," Van Bronckhorst said post-match. "I subbed some players because they were struggling physically, but I cannot complain. They gave everything and that's all you can ask as a coach.

"Borna had to go out and he's one of the first penalty kickers in the game. We trained in penalty kicks, because some players are comfortable taking them. We had a good feel of players who wanted to take a penalty and players who didn't. In the end we had our list and we had to adjust it because of the subs.

"You could see it after the game straight away, it's never a nice feeling. Everyone is very disappointed and you can sense that in the locker room. I think it's normal, so soon after the game, but Aaron took responsibility to take the penalty. Unfortunately he didn't make it, but you want players who are comfortable and who are ready to take them."

Rangers created sporadic opportunities, with Joe Aribo's 57th minute opener at the top of the penalty area one of their only four shots in the box.

The game petered after Borre's equaliser in the 69th, but Ryan Kent had the best chance to win the match in extra-time, only to be denied by Trapp from close range under pressure from Kristijan Jakic.

Ultimately, Van Bronckhorst asserted he could not fault the effort of his players, and understands their post-match predicament more than most.

"Especially in those minutes near the end of the game, it's decisive," he said. "It's a big chance for us, but Ryan did everything he can to score the goal. In the end, you know when you have chances you have to take them."

"If you play a final in Europe and you lose, it's going to hurt, because if you play a final you will do everything you can to win it. In the end, with penalties, it's a lottery and tonight we weren't on the good side.

"But I can't complain with everything my players gave and in the games before tonight. In the end, I think it was a really tight game. Went all the way to penalties and, you know, we lost. A big disappointment because we were so close to winning a trophy. I lost a World Cup final, the biggest game there is, also a huge disappointment but you have to move on."

It may not have been the electrifying classic some might have anticipated given the pre-match hysteria, but Eintracht Frankfurt won't care even a little.

Forty-two years after their last success on the European stage, Die Adler are Europa League champions; defeating Rangers on penalties in Seville after a 1-1 draw that saw both teams show a degree of desperation not to lose, rather than to win.

It's easy to understand that mentality as well. Eintracht's decades of underachievement may not have crippled them, but there was a sense it was playing on their minds.

Yet, ultimately it was they who held their nerve in the crucial penalty shootout – Aaron Ramsey's missed spot-kick prolonging Rangers' own European trophy dry spell.

In that regard, it didn't really matter which way the contest went – either way, one club was going to enjoy one of the all-time great nights in their history.

Neither had won a European trophy since Eintracht were victorious in the old UEFA Cup in 1980. Eight years before that, Rangers won the Cup Winners' Cup.

The Europa League may be looked down upon by some, but such barren runs and the generally surprising fact either team made it so far was what helped this contest resonate with so many.

And the Europa League's ability to inspire dreams of European success in fans who without it would likely never enjoy such a continental triumph is the true ethos of the competition.

Local police estimated 150,000 supporters were in Seville for the game, which was seemingly dubbed the 'fans' final'.

It was undoubtedly an apt moniker given the unequivocal impact the two sets of supporters have had on the teams' respective routes to Seville. Rangers had the 'Ibrox factor'; Eintracht turned the Camp Nou into a sea of white.

At times during the early stages on Wednesday, it felt as if Rangers were trying to stay afloat in a similar expanse of whiteness, such was the greater composure of Eintracht almost all over the pitch.

Eintracht were more effective with clever steals of possession and appeared to have considerably greater confidence receiving the ball under pressure, allowing quick transitions through the lines.

Chances flowed at first. Daichi Kamada danced through the Rangers defence and forced a point-blank save from Allan McGregor; Djibril Sow brought a stop from 20 yards on the rebound; and Ansgar Knauff looked destined to score after driving into the box.

But as Rafael Borre struggled to impose himself physically up top against what coach Oliver Glasner on Tuesday described as a "robust" Rangers, Eintracht's bizarre persistence to smash the ball long to him started to work against them.

This perhaps went some way to explaining how Frankfurt completed just seven passes to their opponents' 54 in the attacking half between the 22nd and 43rd minutes.

The Scots' confidence visibly grew as their grip on the contest improved.

Joe Aribo curled just wide. Ryan Jack drilled just over. Clear-cut chances they may not have been, but they were notable evidence of having settled after a shaky start.

An Eintracht flurry just after the interval promised greater entertainment, but the Bundesliga side showed no desire to heed the warnings of their only major area of concern, and it proved their undoing.

Borre was once again comfortably beaten in the air as Kevin Trapp hoofed the ball aimlessly up the pitch. Calvin Bassey's header was flicked on by Sow and Aribo took full advantage of Tuta pulling up injured to slide beyond the goalkeeper.

It's unclear if Eintracht reverted to type – by focusing on wing play – as a result of the shock of conceding, but it worked, with Borre finally allowed to showcase his best attribute: movement.

Filip Kostic played 140 more corners/crosses (519) than any other player from the top five European leagues this season before Wednesday, but this was arguably the sweetest.

Played low into the 'corridor of uncertainty', the Rangers defence didn't know what to do and Borre nipped in front of his marker to prod home.

As early as that point in the 69th minute, penalties appeared the most-likely outcome in the sweltering – even at 23:00 local time – conditions, though Rangers certainly did their best to ensure that wasn't the case, with Ryan Kent and James Tavernier almost nicking the win right near the end of extra-time.

From there, it came down to composure. Perhaps, given the way they eased into the game itself a little better, we shouldn't be surprised Eintracht prevailed even in the face of thousands of Rangers fans, with each one of their five penalties brilliantly precise.

Ramsey looked to the floor as Eintracht players, staff and officials swarmed onto the pitch in the wake of Borre's decisive kick.

Rangers' tale of rebirth has already been an extraordinary one. Ten years after finding themselves back at the bottom of the pile in Scottish football, they were in a second European final of the century.

But for a club deemed the third-biggest in Germany by virtue of support, it was high time a European trophy made its way back to Frankfurt.

Eintracht Frankfurt claimed their first European trophy in 42 years after a 5-4 penalty shoot-out win over Rangers at the end of 1-1 draw in the Europa League final in Seville on Wednesday.

Oliver Glasner's side were playing in their first European final since they beat Borussia Monchengladbach in the same competition in 1980 and they fell behind in the 57th minute when Joe Aribo took full advantage of some slapstick defending.

The Bundesliga outfit forced extra time at the Ramon Sanchez-Pizjuan 12 minutes later, however, courtesy of Rafael Borre's close-range finish.

Borre was the hero in the shoot-out as well, the Colombian slamming home the decisive spot-kick after Aaron Ramsey had seen his penalty saved by Kevin Trapp, who had brilliantly denied Ryan Kent late in extra time.

Giovanni van Bronckhorst can continue to take Rangers to new heights after their Europa League final against Eintracht Frankfurt, believes former Ibrox favourite Shota Arveladze.

The Scottish Premiership outfit are bidding for a second major European honour in their history, half a century on from their Cup Winners' Cup triumph, in Seville on Wednesday.

It marks an outstanding achievement for Van Bronckhorst, having only taken the reins from Steven Gerrard halfway through the season after the title-winning manager left for Aston Villa.

But the Dutchman, who enjoyed a three-year spell at Rangers as a player, could lift the team up another level with time, according to Arveladze.

"Gio shows every single game and every single day how [much] further he could bring the team, bring the club," the Hull City manager told Stats Perform.

"Credit to Gerrard, who did a good job before him, and which Gio continues, of course. That is Rangers, that is what we want. He is really [the] boss that knows what to do."

Rangers have turned over two Bundesliga sides already, in the shape of Borussia Dortmund and RB Leipzig, to reach this week's showpiece encounter.

Arveladze feels they should have no fear in taking on one more, pointing to a superior record in such encounters as suggestion they can get under Eintracht's skin.

"I would say it has been fantastic," he added on their run and results. "I am always curious [about them] having a hard time against the German teams.

"But to be honest, except for Bayern Munich, I think Rangers [could] beat every German club this year. [They are] playing a fantastic game, an offensive game which is always great to see."

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