Sevilla singing in the rain after UEFA Cup victory
May 17, 2007 - 11:00:12 AM

Glasgow, May 17 - Sevilla retained the UEFA Cup with a 3-1 penalty shootout win over Spaniards Espanyol, after finishing 2-2 at an eventful final.

A capacity crowd of 52,000 in Hampden Park Wednesday saw Sevilla goalkeeper Andres Palop become the hero for his side in the pouring rain as he saved three of the four Espanyol spot kicks in the shoot out.

Palop said that the shootout was 'a lottery, and I was very lucky'.

'It's not just me who has won the cup,' he added. 'The effort has been made by all of us, nobody deserves to receive less praise than me.'

Palop's shootout saves from Luis Garcia, Jonatas Domingos and, finally, Marc Torrejon, mean that Sevilla are the first team to retain the UEFA Cup over two seasons since Real Madrid in the 1985-86 period.

This time Espanyol put up much stiffer resistance than did Middlesbrough, who were thrashed by Sevilla 4-0 in Eindhoven a year ago.

'It's wonderful to win this cup again,' said Sevilla captain Javi Navarro, who then expressed the hope that 'we will be in a different tournament next time.'

Navarro was referring to the Champions League, which Sevilla will almost certainly qualify for this season, for the first time.

Indeed, Sevilla are still the only team in Europe able to win three trophies this season. They are third in 'La Liga' - just two points behind joint leaders Real Madrid and Barcelona - and are already in the King's Cup final, in which they will meet Getafe June 23.

Sevilla just about deserved their second UEFA triumph, though they didn't really take charge until the 67th minute, when Espanyol midfielder Moises Hurtado picked up a second yellow card and was sent off.

Sevilla dominated from then on and should really have won in extra-time. Jonatas surprisingly took Espanyol to penalties by making it 2-2, completely against the run of play, just five minutes before the end of extra-time.

It was one of the most exciting UEFA Cup finals since the tournament started in 1972.

Espanyol had made the brighter start in a wet Hampden Park but Sevilla took the lead against the run of play, in the 18th minute.

Palop cut out an Espanyol corner and found Adriano out on the left with a long throw. Adriano - who only recovered from injury on Monday - skipped past Luis Garcia and Francisco Rufete, then scored with a calm right-foot shot.

Espanyol were only behind for 10 minutes. In the 28th minute Albert Riera made it 1-1 after cutting in from the left and letting loose with a right-foot drive, which took a wicked deflection off Daniel Alves and cruelly beat Palop.

Espanyol dominated after half-time and Palop had to pull off sharp saves from Raul Tamudo and Riera.

In the 67th minute, though, Moises clumsily earned himself a second yellow card for a foul on Aleksandr Kherzhakov, and from then on Espanyol had their backs up against the wall.

Just before the end of the first period of extra time Frederic Kanoute put Sevilla 2-1 up by turning in a perfect centre from little livewire Jesus Navas.

Sevilla then had chances to finish Espanyol off, but supersub Jonatas saved the Catalans with his long-shot leveller.

Just ten minutes later, though, Jonatas would turn from hero to villain, since his was one of the three penalty kicks saved by the brilliant Palop.

It was a cruel finale for Espanyol coach Ernesto Valverde, who was part of the Espanyol team that lost the 1988 UEFA Cup final on penalties to Bayer Leverkusen.

'We were controlling the match until the sending-off', said a sad-looking Valverde, who had the good grace to congratulate Sevilla and call them 'a very good team indeed.'

All rights reserved by RxPG Medical Solutions Private Limited ( )