Sevilla FC's spot-kick victory against RCD Espanyol in the UEFA Cup final gave Spanish clubs a fifth triumph in the competition and a third in the last four years.
Sevilla FC's spot-kick victory against RCD Espanyol in the UEFA Cup final at Hampden Park gave Spain a fifth triumph in the competition and a third in the last four years.
The opening five UEFA Cup finals passed without Spanish representation, before in 1977 Athletic Club Bilbao became the first club from that country to contest the event only to lose to Juventus on away goals after a 2-2 aggregate draw in what was a two-legged final. It took another eight years for the trophy finally to land in Spain as Real Madrid CF ended a 19-year wait for a European title as a 3-0 success in Hungary in the first leg of their meeting with Videoton FCF set up a 3-1 aggregate victory. Madrid were back a year later and ensured the trophy remained at the Santiago Bernabéu for another term thanks to another dominant first-leg display, a 5-1 home win against 1. FC Köln rendering a 2-0 defeat in Germany irrelevant.
Two years later it was the turn of Espanyol, and it looked like the silverware would be heading to Spain for the fourth time when they established a 3-0 advantage after the first match in Barcelona. Bayer 04 Leverkusen cancelled out that deficit in Germany, however, through three second-half goals and Espanyol's misery was compounded when they succumbed in the resulting penalty shoot-out, 3-2. That marked the start of a fallow period in the UEFA Cup for Primera División teams and it was 13 years later, in 2001, that another side reached the final as Deportivo Alavés advanced to face Liverpool FC. But, despite a battling performance in which they twice came from behind, a 116th-minute golden goal - put into his own net by full-back Delfi Gelí - resulted in a 5-4 reverse.
In 2004 it was a different story as Valencia CF became the second Spanish club to get their hands on the prize, giving the nation a third overall triumph, with a 2-0 victory against Olympique de Marseille. An 18-year exile from the podium over, the country's fourth tournament win followed the third within two seasons as Sevilla defeated Middlesbrough FC 4-0 in Eindhoven. Now Sevilla have repeated the feat, they become the fourth Primera División outfit to lift the UEFA Cup and, with three semi-finalists this term, Spain seem set to enjoy similar supremacy in the future. Italy remain the competition's dominant force with nine victories, three more than Germany and England, while Spain are up to fourth place outright and will be confident of more triumphs to come.