Valencia seize the glory as Mista sparkles

Uefa Cup Final:Valencia 2 Marseille 0
Click to follow

Fabien Barthez was sent off as Valencia claimed the Uefa Cup with victory over Marseille in Gothenburg.

The former Manchester United keeper saw red for a cynical 45th–minute challenge on Mista which enabled Vicente to set the Spaniards on their way to victory from the spot.

It was another continental nightmare for Barthez who was axed by Sir Alex Ferguson last year after United's Champions League semi–final defeat to Real Madrid.

Barthez's two–footed lunge after Mista had knocked the ball past him gave referee Pierluigi Collina no alternative but to show the keeper the red card. And it set the newly–crowned Spanish champions on course to wipe out the bitter memory of successive Champions League final defeats in 2000 and 2001.

Mista put Valencia further ahead with a crashing 58th–minute second after a superb right–wing cross from Vicente. The striker chested the ball down before hitting an unstoppable right–foot shot past substitute keeper Jeremy Gavanon from 12 yards. Mista's strike effectively ended any hopes Marseille had of adding to their 1993 European Cup success.

Striker Didier Drogba was allowed few opportunities to add to his 11 goals in the competition this season. His best chance came in the 65th minute as the French at least refused to give in without a fight.

Drogba's free–kick from wide on the left was parried by Valencia keeper Santiago Canizares but former Fulham man Steve Marlet fluffed the rebound from close–range.

Then Sylvain N'diaye brought a fine save out of Canizares in the 81st minute as the French battled on. But it was too late for Marseille and the end of the fairytale for coach Jose Anigo, who only took on the job in January. Instead, Valencia captain David Albelda came close to hitting a third as the favourites finished convincingly.

The Spanish celebrations started well before the final whistle as they celebrated their team's first European trophy since the 1980 Fairs Cup triumph over Arsenal.

And it capped a stunning season for Valencia coach Rafael Benitez – who is sure to attract attention from abroad after adding the UEFA Cup to his side's recent triumph in the Primera Liga.

While Barthez was ultimately responsible for his side's demise, he had prevented his side falling behind early in a tepid first half.

He parried Albelda's bouncing eighth–minute shot out for a corner as the Spaniards took early control. Then he caught Francisco Rufete's cross under pressure from Miguel Angulo.

Marseille's first opening came in the 17th minute when poor Valencia defending gave Camel Meriem a shooting chance but he fired low and wide from the edge of the box. Meriem set up another good chance for the French in the 22nd minute when his free–kick was headed just wide by Habib Beye in the box.

Rufete was being given plenty of space to make progress down the Valencia right but he failed to find the telling final ball into the box.

After Barthez's sending–off Vicente started the second half by drilling a low shot wide but it was the start of the dominance which would finally seal the Spaniards' UEFA Cup crown.

Valencia (4-4-2): Cañizares; Torres, Ayala, Marchena (Pellegrino, 86), Carboni; Rufete (Aimar, 64), Albelda, Baraja, Vicente; Angulo (Sissoko, 82), Mista. Substitutes not used: Rangel (gk), Sanchez, Garrido, Xisco Muñoz.

Marseille (5-4-1) Barthez; Ferreira, Beye, Hemdani, Meite, Dos Santos; Marlet, Flamini (Batlles, 71), N'Diaye (Celestini, 84), Meriem (Gavanon, 45); Drogba. Substitutes not used: Christanval, Vachonsek, Ecker, Cicut.

Referee: P Collina (Italy).