Sevilla FC players were united in praising their supporters after holding their nerve to become only the second club in UEFA Cup history to successfully defend their title by beating RCD Espanyol on penalties.
Hampden Park was a battleground of the red and white of Sevilla and blue of Espanyol and as the game progressed and tension grew, so too did the decibel levels. "It was like having our home crowd with us," enthused Christian Poulsen, a sentiment endorsed by team-mate Antonio Puerta. He added: "The supporters must be going mad. We'd gone so long without a European trophy and now it's two in as many years - incredible."
Poulsen and Puerta both ended the match playing in different positions to the ones they lined up in as Sevilla coach Juande Ramos looked to counter a resurgent Espanyol. Poulsen switched to centre-back following Moisés Hurtado's second-half dismissal while Puerta shifted from the right wing to the centre and for the 22-year-old, the toil made victory all the sweeter. "You enjoy every trophy you win because you realise the hard work you have put in," he said. "You look back at all that has gone on, all the travelling you have done, and it makes it all worthwhile. Lifting that trophy is just the tip of the iceberg."
Right-back Daniel Alves paid tribute to Espanyol's never-say-die attitude as they twice came from behind to force extra time and then penalties, with Jônatas making it 2-2 with five minutes to go despite his side being down to ten men. "They never threw in the towel," he said. "It is a final, though, and both sides will keep going until the end. It was hard but because we were forced to work so hard. It makes the win all the more satisfying."
Alves was an integral part of the team that claimed the title last year, and the squad has altered little in the last 12 months. Poulsen is one new arrival, however, having joined the club from FC Schalke 04 and he was delighted to be on the winning side this time around. "I lost against Sevilla [in the semi-finals] with Schalke last season, but I have won the cup with them now and it is a very nice feeling," said the Danish international.
Now focus returns to domestic competition where the Andalusian outfit remain in contention in the league and have a Copa del Rey final to come, and Alves believes their UEFA Cup triumph provides a timely confidence lift. "This victory is a boost and we are going to fight until the end to win another trophy," he said, before returning to thoughts of their latest triumph: "I want to congratulate all the players and all those connected with Sevilla for the way they have supported us. The fans are the winners here too."
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