MADRID, June 23 (Reuters) - Sevilla crowned an outstanding season with victory in the King's Cup final when a first-half strike from leading scorer Frederic Kanoute earned them a 1-0 win over Bernd Schuster's Getafe on Saturday.
Kanoute grabbed the winner in a tight, hot-tempered contest
at the Bernabeu stadium when he raced clear from a few metres
inside the Getafe half and stroked the ball past goalkeeper Luis
Garcia into the net after 11 minutes.
But the evening ended on a low note for the Mali striker
when he was sent off for retaliating after being fouled in the
dying minutes of the game.
For his team, however, it was a fitting end to a brilliant
campaign that began with victory over Barcelona in the European
Super Cup and continued with a successful defence of the UEFA
Cup when they beat fellow Spaniards Espanyol last month.
'I can't find the words to explain a season like this,' said
Sevilla captain Javi Navarro. 'It's going to take time for all
of this to sink in. We've made a huge effort and now we've been
rewarded for it.'
Getafe coach Bernd Schuster won six King's Cups as a player
but his luck deserted him this time as the first-time finalists
fought tooth and nail throughout but lacked the firepower to
break down the streetwise Sevilla defence.
There was some consolation for the modest Madrid side,
however, because they will play in the UEFA Cup next season
because Sevilla have qualified for the Champions League.
Although Getafe hail from a modest satellite town to the
south of the Spanish capital, their supporters were heavily
outnumbered at the Bernabeu by the thousands of Sevilla fans who
had travelled up from the south.
The Andalucians responded to the electric atmosphere with a
high-tempo start, but it was the Madrid side who had the first
chance to take the lead.
Swiss midfielder Fabio Celestini put striker Daniel Guiza in
the clear, but just as it looked as though he might skip past
Andres Palop on the edge of the area, the Sevilla keeper managed
to sweep the ball away from his feet.
A minute later opposite number Kanoute gave Guiza a
masterclass in finishing.
Snapping up a loose ball after an error by centre-back Ruben
Pulido on the halfway line, the Mali striker galloped down the
pitch and coolly steered a low shot into the net.
Juande Ramos's side were denied a second when Garcia beat
away a fierce drive from midfielder Renato after good work by
fellow Brazilians Luis Fabiano and Daniel Alves.
Getafe fought back hard in the final 10 minutes of the first
half, but although they gave the Sevilla back four a couple of
scares they were unable to trouble Palop.
The Andalucians remained in control for most of the second
period but were unable to extend their advantage.
The match was soured by a series of flare-ups in the closing
minutes with Kanoute receiving his marching orders for kicking
out after a foul by Francisco Casquero.
It mattered little to the 50,000 Sevilla fans packed into
the Bernabeu. They exploded with delight at the final whistle as
their team won their first King's Cup since 1948.