Dnipro Kiev
Fans in Kiev react during last night's match between Sevilla and DniproReuters

The bars were jam-packed. A crowd of excited people thronged the streets. Windows were lit up green with the outlines of men tussling on the pitch seeping through drawn curtains.

Even the most indifferent and dispassionate were swept up in the fervour as Dnipro battled for the hopes of Ukraine on the pitch in Warsaw.

The team may have lost last night's Europa League final to Sevilla, but it won a much more important victory: the hearts and minds of its country.

For a long time, Ukraine had no reason to unite under the banner of a football club and the fans of rivals Shakhtar Donetsk, Dynamo Kiev, Dnipro and others were as divided in their loyalties as fans in every other country. But all that changed last night.

It does not matter from what city you from or what language you speak. If you are Ukrainian, you are now a fan of FC Dnipro.

Even the Poles became fans for the night. Those who went to last night's game and bathed in a sea of blue say a huge chunk of Dnipro's support was provided by local people. Those locals said that Sevilla bored them and they have a fraternal bond with the Ukrainian people.

I spent the night (well, the match) in one of the bars of Kiev, cheering on Dnipro. Kiev has its own passionately supported club, Dynamo, but all I saw were people riding the wave of patriotism and rooting fervently for their compatriots.

Dnipro
Not the result Dnipro fans hoped forReuters

"Victory. All expect only victory," said fan Oleksij Venkov boldly.

"Our team, our Dnipro, in the final of the prestigious European tournament! It is the prestige of the club and the country. "

Oleksij even planned to go to Warsaw to see the match live, but he couldn't do it because his visa recently expired.

But around 9,000 Ukrainians, both from Dnipropetrovsk and other parts of the country, did manage to get the cash together to travel to Warsaw in support of FC Dnipro. Many of them were just general football fans who made the pilgrimage in a spirit of patriotic fervour.

For those not fortunate enough to get to the match, most major cities across Ukraine established huge screens in the open air, where hundreds and thousands of fans gathered to watch the match. Squares were overpacked, and the roar of fans was deafening, sustained for the duration of the match.

"My friends and I are sincerely rooting for the Dnipro," fan Sergiy Koshkin said before the match. "The team has given an amazing account of itself, and we believe that it could beat even such a strong opponent as Sevilla."

Yevhen Konoplyanka

'The economic situation in Ukraine has meant that many fans have not been able to pay to make the journey to Warsaw. In the crowd during the Napoli game, supporters were seen passing around boxes for donations to the club while players have also got involved.'

Read Orlando Crowcroft's preview to last night's game here.

Sergiy's hopes were not fulfilled. After taking an early lead, Ukraine's heroes were pegged back with a goal by Grzegorz Krychowiak – one of the few Poles in the stadium not supporting Dnipro. Sevilla then took the lead and, although Ruslan Rotan levelled, the Spanish side eventually prevailed through a goal from the Colombian Carlos Bacca.

"It is a pity," said Sergiy after the game, "because all the signs indicated that Dnipro had to win. For example, the British referee was a "lucky one" for Ukrainian teams – they had never lost when he was in charge. Also, the stadium bore a close similarity to Kiev's own Olympic Stadium.

"There were obvious signs that Dnipro would be successful tonight, and we thought Sevilla [who have won the Europa League several times] had to lose a final sometime. Well, that's what we were hoping anyway.

"Personally, I believe that Dnipro could have played better. The reason for the defeat was that they relaxed after the first goal. However, considering how far the team has come, we all can, and should, be proud of it. "