Puerta sends Sevilla through
Thursday, April 27, 2006
Sevilla FC 1-0 FC Schalke 04 (agg: 1-0)
Antonio Puerta scored in extra time to send the Spanish side through to the UEFA Cup final.
There was nothing between the two sides over the regular 180 minutes and it took the fresh legs of Sevilla substitute Antonio Puerta to break the deadlock, creating the second England versus Spain European showdown of the season after FC Barcelona joined Arsenal FC in the final of the UEFA Champions League.
After a tense first leg in Germany, there were no signs of nerves on either side in an open first 45 minutes. Kevin Kuranyi almost put Schalke ahead from a Rafinha cross, but he was in an offside position when his header was saved at the second attempt by Andrés Palop.
Sevilla's main threat came from the boot of José Luis Martí, whose set-pieces were causing panic in the Schalke penalty area. His first on the half-hour mark needed just a minor touch from Javier Saviola and it would have probably beaten Frank Rost, but the Argentinian could not get his head to the ball and the Schalke goalkeeper collected it with some relief.
Shortly afterwards, and from an identical position, another curling Martí free-kick by-passed everyone and a fumble by Rost was almost punished, but he collected the ball cleanly before the onrushing strikers could get a foot in.
Gerald Asamoah drilled in his first shot of the evening and the long-lasting whistles from the home fans would have been music to the ears of the dominant Schalke players. But there were still holes at the back and Marcelo Bordon had to make a desperate clearance over his own crossbar to prevent Saviola from having an easy nod-in at the far post.
There was nothing easy about Rost's diving one-handed save from Saviola with 15 minutes remaining, even if his acrobatic volley from the edge of the area was heading wide of the post. As the game entered its final ten minutes, Schalke coach Mirko Slomka took a gamble by introducing Danish striker Søren Larsen for full-back Darío Rodríguez.
The 90 minutes expired and it was going to take something special to break the deadlock. It came for the home side as Rafinha drifted out of position, leaving Puerta free to the left of goal and he provided a deadly finish with his left foot, curling his shot back inside the far post.