Forty-four years since their last appearance in a major final and nearly 60 since they last won a major trophy, Sevilla FC fans finally had cause to celebrate this May when their team defeated Middlesbrough FC 4-0 in the UEFA Cup final in Eindhoven to claim their first European honour. Sevilla's previous major success was their Spanish Cup triumph in 1948.
Sevilla brought the Andalusian sun with them to Eindhoven and as the temperature soared in the Dutch city, fans partied in the main square before kick-off. Once the match had begun Luis Fabiano's header midway through the first half ensured the fiesta continued in the PSV Stadium. A pair of late goals from Enzo Maresca and a last-minute strike from Frédéric Kanouté completed a remarkable campaign for Juande Ramos's side.
It proved rough justice on Middlesbrough, however, who had enjoyed a thrilling ride to Eindhoven. The English side cruised through the first round and group stage without losing a match. VfB Stuttgart and AS Roma provided tougher opposition in the knockout rounds, but the real drama was saved for the quarter- and semi-finals against FC Basel 1893 and FC Steaua Bucuresti. Both times Boro trailed ahead of the second leg at the Riverside Stadium, both times they conceded early on and kicked off the second half needing three goals to go through. Incredibly, both times they succeeded.
Massimo Maccarone was the man of the moment on each occasion as he capped both improbable comebacks with last-minute winners to take Middlesbrough through to their first European final in only their second season of continental football. It was Steve McClaren's last match in charge of Middlesbrough before becoming England manager, but it was his Sevilla counterpart Juande Ramos who would leave Eindhoven on a high.
Sevilla had edged through as winners of a tight Group H, before seeing off FC Lokomotiv Moskva and LOSC Lille Métropole to reach the quarter-finals. There they turned on the style for the first time, Javier Saviola scoring twice to set up a 4-1 first-leg victory against FC Zenit St. Petersburg and a semi-final tie against FC Schalke 04. Sevilla, still celebrating their centenary in the club's 101st year, held on for a goalless draw in Gelsenkirchen before local lad Antonio Puerta struck an extra-time winner at the Ramón Sánchez-Pizjuán stadium to take the Spanish side through. Fittingly, the match coincided with the Feria de Abril, the city's fiesta, and the celebrations continued all the way to Eindhoven.
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