|Copa del Rey|
Zaragoza 3 - Celta 1
Rebosio (Cuartero 77'), Paco, Aguado, Pablo; Gurenko, Toro Acuña,
José Ignacio; Juanele, Jamelli (Yordi 67'), Vellisca (Garitano 88').
Zaragoza won their fifth Spanish cup after defeating Celta in a packed Olympic stadium in Sevilla. It was seven years since they last won the trophy, and by chance their opponents on that day were also the Vigo side who they beat in a penalty shoot out after the game ended scoreless. Zaragoza's manager that day was none other than Víctor Fernández, now in charge at Celta, and he must have felt strange lining up against the team from his home town. With Djorovic and Vagner injured and Jesuli suspended, he picked the best team he could, with Velasco and Cáceres returning from a one match ban to take their places in defence. Zaragoza's appeal against the sending off of Paco in their last match was upheld by the disciplinary committee, and he lined up in a new look 4-3-3 formation, with Luis Costa opting to bring in an extra defensive player Gurenko to sit on Mostovoi and company. As a result, Yordi was left on the bench and Jamelli played up front as the only striker.
Costa's ploy seemed to have failed when Mostovoi picked up a loose clearance by Láinez and held off several challenges before placing the ball past the despairing keeper. Láinez had won a place in the side when Juanmi was injured, and the manager must have been asking himself whether it was a wise move to leave the Spanish international on the bench now that he was fit again. However the keeper made up for his mistake with a series of good saves in the second half. Zaragoza's Aguado cleared a cross from Karpin with Catanha looking menacing, and four minutes later he popped up at the other end to head an equaliser past Cavallero with the Celta defence motionless (the captain's performance earned him a one year extension to his contract after having contemplated a move to another club before the game). Then a quarter of an hour later the side from Aragón took the lead from the penalty spot when Berizzo was judged by referee García-Aranda to have tripped José Ignacio from behind. Jamelli converted the kick for his sixteenth of the season, and he ends the current campaign as their top scorer.
The second half belonged almost entirely to Celta as they came out looking for the equaliser. Láinez saved from Cáceres and Mostovoi, and Gurenko cleared from in front of the goal mouth from Catanha after the keeper misread a cross. García-Aranda, in charge for the last time before retiring, had his work cut out as the Celta players dived shamelessly in the penalty area trying to compensate the earlier penalty, and he booked Juanfran and gave a verbal warning to Mostovoi in separate incidents. The Celta's players' histrionics eventually went against them though, with the referee not awarding a probable penalty for a foul by Aguado on Catanha having seen them cry wolf one time too often. Víctor brought on a not fully fit Edu for Velasco, and then McCarthy came on for the last ten minutes with the team desperately pushing for the equaliser. Láinez saved well from Cáceres, and then Zaragoza were reduced to ten men when Pablo got his marching orders for a second bookable offence in injury time. But with everyone from Celta forward as the clock ticked away, Yordi ran on to a long clearance to get ahead of Berizzo, round Cavallero and roll the ball in to net.
There was not even time for a kick off as the referee blew the final whistle, and the yellow, black and white end of the ground erupted. They had not expected to win, and even returned half of their allocation of tickets after a poor performance in the league, but their season was saved and they can now look forward to another year in European football, the victory giving them the right to play in the UEFA cup. Celta were destroyed, and the elusive trophy escapes them for the third time in their history. Their defeat means that Villarreal miss out on European football, as had the Vigans won, they would have qualified for the UEFA spot as cup winners, leaving another place for the league's seventh placed team (Celta finished sixth). The Gallicians will undoubtedly bounce back, but with players such as Djorovic and Karpin being touted by bigger clubs, they may have to wait a little longer for their first ever trophy. It was a long trek home for the 22,000 or so fans who had followed the club from the opening match in the Intertoto cup way back in mid-July in what must be the longest season in their history. Pity it had to end this way.
|Copa del Rey 2000/2001|