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RCD Espanyol booked their place in the UEFA Cup quarter-finals thanks to a convincing 4-0 home defeat of Maccabi Haifa FC.
Following last week's first-leg stalemate in Israel, it took another 53 minutes of this Round of 16 encounter for either team to find the net. When they did, through Iván de la Peña, Espanyol went on to score another three times without reply, courtesy of Luis García, Raúl Tamudo and Walter Pandiani.
De la Peña threat
The Barcelona-based club are aiming to reach their second final in this competition, having been runners-up in 1988, and began with purpose here. De la Peña, who caused problems for the Israeli side's defence all night together with Tamudo and Pandiani, had a powerful strike turned behind for a corner on 23 minutes by goalkeeper Nir Davidovich. The former Spain playmaker soon went even closer, crashing an effort against the post from the edge of the area.
For all Espanyol's dominance, though, parity reigned at half-time. Eight minutes after it, however, Ernesto Valverde's team finally got their goal. De la Peña shot from range once more, and this time defied both Davidovich and the woodwork with the brilliance of his delivery. Maccabi were duly forced to come out in search of an equaliser yet it was the hosts who registered again, skipper Tamudo poking the ball past the keeper on 59 minutes.
Within 120 seconds, it was 3-0 as Luis García outwitted Davidovich in a one-on-one situation. With the tie done and dusted, the Espanyol fans could afford to give De la Peña a standing ovation as he was substituted, while saving one last hurrah for Pandiani's 93rd-minute strike. The goal was the Uruguayan's ninth in nine UEFA Cup outings this season. He, like Espanyol, could take some stopping.
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