• the keeper
  • Uncategorized

Sevilla retained the Uefa Cup with a 3-1 shoot-out victory against Espanyol.

Adriano scored the first in a thrilling match with a lovely finish following a swift Sevilla break, but Alberto Riera levelled with a deflected shot.

Andres Palop denied Riera with a fine save and the game looked to turn when Espanyol’s Moises Hurtado was sent off for a second booking on 68 minutes.

Sevilla’s pressure told when Frederic Kanoute turned in a cross, before a goal from Jonatas sent it to penalties.

But having done the hard work of taking the game to a shoot-out, Espanyol’s efforts from 12 yards were abject.

Palop saved from Luis Garcia, Jonatas and Marc Torrejon to keep Sevilla on course for a Treble.

And Palop’s heroics meant the Andalucians, who are third in La Liga and in the final of the Copa del Rey, also became the second team to retain the Uefa Cup after Real Madrid in 1986.

As well as emerging as the hero, Palop set up the opening goal in this all-Spanish affair at Glasgow’s Hampden Park.

Sevilla struck when the keeper gathered a corner and released a monumental throw, which the galloping Adriano gathered ahead of a lunging covering challenge from David Garcia before finishing crisply.

Espanyol, the tournament’s leading scorers, found a way back into the game when Ivan de la Pena picked out Rieri in space on the left.

The former Manchester City man cut inside the retreating Daniel Alves and his shot from the edge of the area beat Palop, with the help of a deflection off the Brazilian.

Espanyol maintained the momentum after the break and Raul Tamudo saw a rising shot palmed over, before Riera unleashed a ferocious dipping volley that Palop tipped on to the bar.

But with the Catalans in the ascendancy the game changed when holding midfielder Moises received a second booking with a tackle from behind on substitute Aleksandr Kerzhakov.

The extent of the setback was highlighted by the fact that talismanic skipper Tamudo was the man sacrificed as Espanyol, 12th in La Liga, shored up their defence.

And midfield orchestrator De la Pena soon followed as Sevilla stoked up the intense pressure on a stout defensive line.

A fizzing passing move ended with Kerzhakov firing over, Javi Navarro saw a header saved, Kanoute had an effort clawed away at the back post, Ivica Dragutinovic blasted the rebound wildly wide and twinkle-toed substitute Jesus Navas had a penalty shout turned down.

On it went as the corners racked up, Gorka Iraizoz saving Renato’s shot while in extra time Luis Garcia’s last-ditch tackle denied Antonio Puerta a shooting opportunity.

But the Blanquiazules backline was finally breached when former West Ham and Tottenham striker Kanoute stole in to poke in a low Navas cross at the near post.

The Rojiblancos had chances to kill off the game, but Iraizoz denied Puerta and Alves in one-on-one situations.

And out of nothing substitute Jonatas took the final to penalties with a fiercely struck, long-range shot which took the slightest of deflections off Christian Poulsen five minutes from the end of the extra period.

But that only meant Palop returned to centre stage, while Kanoute, Ivica Dragutinovic and Puerta scored to break Espanyol hearts.

- -