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Galatasaray makes history

COPENHAGEN, MAY 18. Galatasaray became the first Turkish Club to win a European soccer trophy when it beat Arsenal 4-1 on penalties after the UEFA Cup final finished goalless after extra- time.

Yesterday Galatasaray overcame the loss of its influential playmaker Gheorghe Hagi, who was sent off for hitting Arsenal skipper Tony Adams in the 93rd minute, to win the final which saw both teams miss golden opportunities.

In the end Galatasaray won in the shoot-out when Gheorghe Popescu, Hagi's brother-in-law, lashed in the decisive penalty after Croatian substitute Davor Suker and French midfielder Patrick Vieira had both hit the woodwork with their kicks.

It was the second time in five years that Arsenal's fate had been sealed in a European final by a player who was formerly with its arch-rival Tottenham Hotspur. Nayim, once of Spurs, scored Real Zaragoza's winning goal in the 1995 European Cup Winners' Cup final, Arsenal's last appearance in a European final before this one. The shoot-out tipped Galatasaray's way when Ergun Penbe scored the opening penalty and Suker hit Claudio Taffarel's left- hand post. Hakan Sukur, Umit Davala and then Popescu all scored for Galatasaray while Ray Parlour was the only Arsenal player to score from the spot.

Arsenal, who won the 1994 European Cup Winners' Cup at the same Parken Stadium, started the match the better side but Galatasaray, with Hagi a huge influence, gradually fought its way back and had two great chances to score on either side of half- time.

The first came when Arif Erdem sprung the off-side trap but shot wide with only David Seaman to beat. The second came three minutes when Sukur, under pressure from Martin Keown, hit a post after 48 minutes. Keown could have scored at the other end a minute later but sidefooted over the bar.

Arsenal's best chances came in extra-time after Hagi's dismissal. Thierry Henry, in the 107th minute, seemed set to score what would have been the golden goal winner - only for his close-range header to be turned away brilliantly by Taffarel.

The Brazilian World Cup keeper also did well to deny Nwankwo Kanu soon after and was named `Man of the Match' afterwards.

It is the second time Arsenal has lost a European final on penalties following its defeat by Valencia in the 1980 European Cup Winners' Cup final, which also finished goalless.

But its manager, Arsene Wenger, was unhappy that the referee chose to stage the shoot-out at the end of the ground occupied by Galatasaray fans. ``I believe it was a huge advantage to play at the Turkish end, I think it be a toss, not a choice of the referee,'' he said.

``The penalties we missed both hit the woodwork - it shows that the biggest players in the world miss penalties,'' added the Frenchman.

There were no major disturbances in the ground after a day of violence between opposing fans in the centre of Copenhagen. - Reuters

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