Fri, May 12, 2006 - Page 24 News List

Sevilla were too good: McClaren

SOCCER There was no fairytale ending to Steve McClaren's reign as Middlesbrough coach as his side were thrashed 4-0 by Sevilla in the UEFA Cup final

AGENCIES , EINDHOVEN, NETHERLANDS

Sevilla supporters celebrate at the La Cartuja auditorium in Seville, Spain, on Wednesday after Sevilla won the UEFA Cup final soccer match against Middlesbrough.

PHOTO: AFP

Middlesbrough manager Steve McClaren skipped over the disappointment of the 4-0 UEFA Cup final thrashing against Sevilla on Wednesday and praised his team for a great season.

After the heroic comebacks in the quarter and semi-final the Spanish side proved too strong for Boro and chalked up the biggest win in the UEFA Cup final since it became a single match in 1998.

"Sevilla were stronger tonight, but the difference was not four goals," McClaren said at a news conference.

"Tonight we didn't start right and Sevilla got on top of us and scored the first goal. They were far and away the best team we played against this tournament," he said.

"We opened the game in the second half and had three big chances to equalize. And we really should have had a penalty that would have turned the game and should have been a reward for our second half effort," McClaren said.

Sevilla, who like their English opponents were competing in their first European final, opened the scoring after 26 minutes when Brazilian Luis Fabiano nodded in a pass from Daniel Alves.

Early in the second half Mark Viduka had the chance to level but goalkeeper Palop saved the Australian's volley, while the striker was also denied a penalty by referee Herbert Fandel after Javi Navarro pushed him a minute before the decisive second goal.

"Tonight was an incredible night. That's the disappointing thing, that we didn't perform as we know we can," McClaren said.

Boro only came alive after half-time, by which time they trailed to Luis Fabiano's 26th-minute header.

"I don't know if the occasion got to the players," McClaren said.

"We didn't play with the same freedom, we looked a little nervous. We didn't play as we know we can, but we had three glorious opportunities to get an equalizer. Our luck finally ran out this season."

The defeat ends McClaren's five-year spell with Middlesbrough, as he will succeed Sven-Goran Eriksson as England boss after the World Cup finals.

Reflecting on his time at Middlesbrough McClaren said that it had been five years with good and bad times and that reaching the final was the reward for all the hard work.

"But this is just the beginning for the club," he said.

"They have a great chairman and there is a lot of talent coming through. This shouldn't be the end, but just the step to a next level," McClaren said.

Olympiakos won its 22nd Greek Cup on Wednesday, beating AEK Athens 3-0 to complete the double.

Michalis Konstantinou and Nery Castillo scored for Olympiakos, which also got an own-goal from AEK midfielder Vladan Ivic.

At the final whistle, more than 10,000 Olympiakos supporters celebrated at the Pancrition Stadium on the island of Crete. Fans in Athens' main port of Piraeus lit fires and celebrated as Olympiakos captain Predrag Djordjevic lifted the cup.

Olympiakos was missing Brazilian playmaker Rivaldo, who was sidelined with a leg injury.

On the field, Olympiakos almost scored in the 11th minute when a low drive by Konstantinou went narrowly wide.

In a counterattack by AEK six minutes later, Olympiakos goalkeeper Antonis Nikopolidis saved a shot from inside the area by Costas Katsouranis.

After the interval, Olympiakos took the lead in the 60th when Konstantinou scored with a close-range strike.

Olympiakos doubled its lead in the 71st with an own-goal by Ivic. His diving header to clear a free kick from Djordjevic backfired and ended in his own net.

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