Sevilla keeper plays down match-winning saves

Goalkeeper Andres Palop played down his match-winning penalty shoot-out saves which sealed a second successive UEFA Cup crown for Sevilla on Wednesday.

Palop kept out three Espanyol spot-kicks as the holders won 3-1 in the shoot-out after a thrilling all-Spanish final had ended 2-2 after 120 minutes at Hampden Park. “Penalties are a lottery, I was lucky to save three,” said Palop who was also in the Sevilla side that won the UEFA Cup last season.

“I’m not a hero. I’m just one more player in this team.
This is a victory for everyone, not just me.”

Palop was also instrumental in setting up Sevilla’s first goal, with his long and accurate throw out to Adriano Correia on the left flank, just after he thwarted an Espanyol attack, enabling the Brazilian to utilise his searing pace and score after 18 minutes.

The 34-year-old, who joined Sevilla at the start of last season after spending six seasons as Santiago Canizares’ stand-in at Valencia, has enjoyed a UEFA Cup season to remember after scoring a crucial goal in Sevilla’s last 16 victory over Shakhtar Donetsk.

Trailing 2-1 in the second leg and 3-2 on aggregate with seconds remaining, Palop ran the length of the pitch four minutes into stoppage time and headed home a Daniel Alves corner. Sevilla went on to win in extra time.

“It’s a cup to remember forever,” added the keeper.

“I’ve scored, I’ve laid on a goal and now saved some penalties.”

With Sevilla firmly in contention for the Primera Liga title, the Andalucians will probably be in the Champions League next season. “The sky is the limit for this team. We have got a lot of ambition and we want to earn our place among the big teams,” he added. - Reuters

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