Palop the savior for Sevilla yet again

Andres Palop was Sevilla's savior when the club was on the verge of elimination from the UEFA Cup in the fourth round.

updated: May 19, 2007 14:53 IST
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Glasgow, England:

Andres Palop was Sevilla's savior when the club was on the verge of elimination from the UEFA Cup in the fourth round.

On Wednesday, Palop was again the key - saving three penalty kicks to help Sevilla defeat Espanyol for its second consecutive UEFA Cup title. The goalkeeper also helped Adriano Correira score Sevilla's opening goal in the 18th minute of the final.

Espanyol leveled 10 minutes later through Albert Reira, which pushed the game to extra time. That finished 2-2 and it was down to Palop and his Espanyol counterpart Gorka Iraizoz in the penalty shootout.

Palop saved penalties from Luis Garcia, Jonatas and Marc Torrejon. Iraizoz saved none. Sevilla won the shootout 3-1.

"Penalties are as much about intuition and luck," said Palop, who was named man of the match. "I will certainly be going on and working on with the same spirit of achievement. We have a young team that is still looking for more titles and cups."

Without Palop, Sevilla might not have even got this far.

Sevilla was trailing 2-1 in its round-of-16 match against Ukraine's Shakhtar Donetsk and moments away from elimination. Deep in injury time, Palop left his net unguarded and moved up for a last-ditch corner.

Daniel Alves swung the ball in and the goalkeeper headed home. Sevilla then completed the turnaround when Ernesto Chevanton scored the decider on a low shot in the 105th minute for a 3-2 win.

Sevilla then eliminated Tottenham in the quarterfinals and Osasuna in the semifinals to reach the final at Hampden Park.

"It's a very complete tournament," Palop said. "This competition will go with me during all my life. This is indeed important.

"I have scored a goal, I have stopped penalties. I made passes and, well, I had this weight on my shoulders because of some things in the past and perhaps people will now remember ... the name Palop stands for something good for goalkeepers."

Palop joined Sevilla in 2005 after six years at Valencia, where he was largely the second choice to Santiago Canizares, who was Spain's No. 1 goalkeeper until 2002. With Real Madrid's Iker Casillas taking over that mantle, Palop has never played for his country.

Still, Palop's won more titles than Casillas since he moved to Seville - he was also in goal when Sevilla won its first UEFA Cup last season, in a 4-0 win over English club Middlesbrough.

There's still the possibility of two more medals for the 33-year-old Spaniard. Sevilla is in contention for the Spanish league title and plays Getafe in the Copa del Rey final on June 23.