Andrés Palop can expect to return to a hero's welcome as Sevilla FC head home with the UEFA Cup but the Spanish press had plenty of sympathy for RCD Espanyol today.
Goalkeeper Palop saved three spot-kicks in the shoot-out which handed Sevilla their second successive UEFA Cup following a 2-2 draw against Espanyol at Hampden Park in Glasgow. The front page of sports daily Marca featured a close-up of the 33-year-old with the headline: "You can see it in his eyes - they've won a second one!" Palop said modestly: "I was just lucky."
The same could hardly be said of Espanyol, who twice came from a goal behind either side of being reduced to ten men only to lose the shoot-out 3-1. The club had already experienced the pain of defeat on penalties in their only previous UEFA Cup final appearance, trading 3-0 wins with Bayer 04 Leverkusen before a spot-kick defeat in 1988.
Sympathy for Valverde
The Spanish media were only too aware that Espanyol coach Ernesto Valverde was involved in that final as a player, and that he is now the only man to have lost a UEFA Cup final as both a player and a coach. El Mundo Deportivo wrote: "Having reached extra time exhausted and after a great recovery, Valverde didn't deserve to cry again."
The Glasgow Herald was delighted with the final, saying: "Hampden rose to the occasion once more and its glittering history has been further polished after a sixth major European final." However, the paper noted that incessant rain had not been ideal for Spanish fans, especially those who had worn Scottish-style kilts for the occasion, with one Sevilla supporter asking: "How could such a wet country decide on this as a national costume?"
Meanwhile, Diario de Sevilla is awaiting the return of Juande Ramos's side, having summarised the final with the headline: "Drama, survival, glory ...Champions!" With fans having celebrated after watching the match on giant screens in the Cartuja Stadium in the Andalusian capital, many more are sure to be waiting as the team bring home the cup.
Sevilla will touch down in Seville at 17.00CET today and will then take the UEFA Cup trophy on an open-topped double-decker bus to the River Guadalquivir. From there, the team will board a boat which will take them into the Torre del Oro in the middle of Seville, before the drive to the cathedral to give their thanks to the city's patron saints.
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