French football had waited five years to have a team in a European final and now two come along at once. Small wonder L'Equipe is talking today of "un doublé historique".
Marseille face Valencia
After AS Monaco FC's passage to the UEFA Champions League final on Wednesday, Olympique de Marseille beat Newcastle United FC last night to reach the UEFA Cup final where they will face Valencia CF, winners of the all-Spanish semi-final against Villarreal CF.
Marseille were beaten finalists in 1999, while Valencia reached the final of this tournament's predecessor, the Inter-Cities Fairs Cup, three times - winning in 1962 and 1963 before losing the following year. uefa.com brings you the media reaction in France, Spain and England to last night's matches.
Olympique de Marseille 2-0 Newcastle United FC (Agg: 2-0)
José Anigo promised his players would give everything. They did so in a breathless tie, Marseille's toughest in this UEFA Cup campaign. Because if Newcastle lacked the necessary attacking weapons to score, the Englishmen certainly provided a huge physical challenge. And this Marseille - the European one - proved their ability to fight, which took them past their second English opponents. After five years of famine, OM are back at the top European level, thanks to an impressive team effort and a deadly Didier Drogba. (L'Equipe)
Newcastle United's 35-year wait for a trophy goes on and Sir Bobby Robson must fear that one of the sport's longest curses will not be ended while he is manager. A 2-0 defeat away to Marseille last night deprived his team of a place in the UEFA Cup final and, at 71, English football's grand old man must wonder whether another chance such as this will come along. His hopes were ended by Didier Drogba, who scored fine goals in each half and a depleted Newcastle lacked the variety or invention to respond. (The Times)
Valencia CF 1-0 Villarreal CF (Agg: 1-0)
Valencia made their history and experience count to return to a UEFA Cup final 40 years on - this time, it will be against the highly dangerous Marseille, on 19 May in Gothenburg. Rafa Benítez's troops took advantage of the wave of optimism that has swept over the club since they unexpectedly took charge of the title race a month ago. A frenetic quarter of an hour was enough - during which they imposed that infernal rhythm that they display whoever their opponents might be, to swing a tie that had been trudging along at 0-0 since the first leg. (El País)
Villarreal were dignified semi-finalists who resisted defeat with all their might. Until the last minute, they had the Mestalla holding its breath while the result remained uncertain. This generous, modest Castellón-based club have enjoyed an excellent run since their debut in the Intertoto Cup last summer and with 60 matches already under their belts, they will be the Spanish side to have played most games this season. (El País)
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