Penalty misery again for luckless Espanyol
May 17, 2007 - 12:20:04 PM

Glasgow, May 17 - They say that lightning doesn't strike twice in the same place. But UEFA Cup finalists Espanyol have just been hit for a second time in the same place: the penalty spot.

On Wednesday history repeated itself for poor Espanyol in the cruel shape of another penalty shootout defeat.

They were beaten 3-1 in Glasgow on penalties by fellow Spaniards Sevilla, after a heart-stopping 2-2 draw in the UEFA final.

Espanyol then had three out of their four penalties saved by Sevilla hero Andres Palop.

It was a clear case of 'deja vu' for the long-suffering fans of Espanyol, a repeat of the 1988 UEFA Cup final defeat against Bayer Leverkusen.

In 1998 Javier Clemente surprisingly took a workman-like Espanyol team to the UEFA final, pushing past highly-rated teams such as AC Milan and Inter.

In the first leg of the final played in Barcelona - in the now-demolished Estadio Sarria - Espanyol thrashed Leverkusen 3-0.

Some 15,000 'Espanyolistas' made the trip to the Rhineland, convinced that the second leg would be a formality.

But Clemente's team were thrashed 3-0, then lost the penalty shootout 3-2, with Leverkusen keeper Rudiger Vollborn emerging as the arm-swinging hero.

The achievement of taking Espanyol to the final earned Clemente the job of Spanish national manager.

The Espanyol fans, however, were left with a bitter memory - one they had hoped to erase in Glasgow Wednesday.

'The UEFA Cup has a debt towards this club', said Espanyol coach Ernesto Valverde in Glasgow on Wednesday morning.

Valverde was the right-winger in that 1988 Espanyol side. Just after the Glasgow defeat he admitted that 'it has been really horrible to lose again in the same way.'

Valverde said that 'I feel really sorry for the fans who came all this way...Many of them went to Leverkusen 19 years ago, and tonight they've had to make an even longer journey.'

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