Ferrán Corominas and Jesús María Lacruz were on target as RCD Espanyol secured a place in an all-Spanish UEFA Cup final against Sevilla FC. Their 5-1 aggregate triumph against Werder Bremen does not tell the story, however, of a tie that hung in the balance for a long time despite Miroslav Klose's early dismissal.
Having lost the first leg 3-0, Bremen enjoyed a dream start at the Weserstadion as Hugo Almeida gave them an early lead, but when Klose was shown his second yellow on 19 minutes for simulation on the edge of the area, their hopes appeared to have been extinguished. Yet they pressed on and looked a real threat until Corominas struck five minutes after the restart. Lacruz soon added to the home team's misery as the Barcelona-based outfit reached their second UEFA Cup final having lost to Bayer 04 Leverkusen in the 1988 showpiece.
The stadium announcer had warmed up for the game with a deafening rendition of AC/DC's Highway to Hell, and it appeared a pertinent selection as Espanyol endured a torrid start. Less than five minutes had gone when Hugo Almeida reduced their aggregate advantage, dextrously chipping over the advancing Gorka Iraizoz and into the empty net from well outside the box after Diego's block had spun fortuitously into his path. The partisan crowd rose in unison; their pre-match talk had been of the "Wunder auf der Weser", Bremen's penchant for turning around the seemingly impossible, and here it was happening.
Coach Thomas Schaaf's attacking triumvirate of Klose, Hugo Almeida and Diego, supported by Aaron Hunt and Daniel Jensen on the flanks, were causing all manner of problems as they interchanged with bustling pace. Klose, in particular, looked dangerous, perhaps attempting to prove himself following speculation linking with a move away from the club. He was cautioned within 90 seconds after an aerial challenge on Daniel Jarque, but was soon in more familiar territory, terrorising the visiting defence.
Twice in two minutes Klose was denied by last-ditch interventions from centre-backs Marc Torrejón and Jarque, yet just as the tie seemed to be tipping in Bremen's favour, the Germany striker was needlessly sent off for his second bookable offence. It was an obvious blow though it did little to stem the tide as Bremen continued to press, Hunt and Jensen both testing Iraizoz as they revelled in the freedom Espanyol's ragged defence were affording them. The fact hopeful half-time whistles began emanating from the away section five minutes before the interval spoke volumes.
Still, Bremen had to score twice more so Schaaf brought on winger Kevin Schindler at the break, replacing Patrick Owomoyela as the hosts switched to three at the back. It was a gamble, and it soon proved one risk too far as an attack broke down and the ball was quickly swept to the left flank and Albert Reira. The midfielder's low cross looked fairly innocuous but Andreas Reinke, playing in place of the suspended Tim Wiese, fumbled and Corominas was on hand to sweep in the equaliser. Within ten minutes the Spanish side were home and dry as Lacruz nodded in Luis García's corner at the far post to make it 2-1 on the night and ensure Espanyol will be at Hampden Park, Glasgow on 16 May.