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banner Thursday, 15 March, 2001, 22:30 GMT
Alaves through as Rayo fall
Jordi Cruyff
Former Manchester United winger Cruyff
Rayo Vallecano 2-1 CD Alaves (Agg. 2-4)

A first-half strike by Jordi Cruyff for CD Alaves against Rayo Vallecano helped the Basque side into the Uefa Cup semi-finals in their debut season in Europe.

Alaves lost to Rayo Vallecano in their second leg but won their quarter-final tie 4-2 on aggregate.

Former Manchester United winger Cruyff's angled shot in the 19th minute followed some good work by Romanian international Cosmin Contra.

The goal effectively extinguished Rayo's faint hopes of staging a comeback after their comprehensive 3-0 first leg loss.

Rayo equalised four minutes before the break with a well-taken strike by Jose Maria Quevedo and went ahead with a Luis Cembranos penalty after 79 minutes.

'Incredibly happy'

But their fightback came too late and the win was scant consolation for the Madrid-based side, also playing in Europe for the first time this season.

Alaves coach Jose Manuel Esnal was delighted by his side's performance.

The best form of defence was to score and it was a severe setback for them when we took the lead
  Alaves coach Jose Manuel Esnal

"I am incredibly happy," he said. "For a team that is playing in Europe for the first time this certainly wasn't what we expected at the beginning of the competition."

"We just want to keep enjoying ourselves and to continue to make history and bring happiness to our loyal fans."

"We knew that Rayo would come at us and they attacked constantly. But the best form of defence was to score and it was a severe setback for them when we took the lead."

'Deserved winners'

Rayo coach Juande Ramos praised his players despite defeat.

"The players gave everything on the pitch and they never let their heads drop," he said.

"We were let down a little by our lack of accuracy in front of goal but our effort was enormous.

"Over the two games Alaves were the deserved winners. All I want to do is to congratulate them and wish them the best of luck in the semis.

"For us the whole competition has been an unforgettable experience and it was great to see two modest sides have a chance of reaching the Uefa Cup semi-finals.

"It was just a shame someone had to lose."

Rayo Vallecano: Lopetegui, Mingo, Urbano, Michel, Quevedo, Bolic, Cembranos, Glaucio, Ballesteros, Poschner, Bolo. Subs: Keller, De Quintana, Alcazar, Ivan Iglesias, Bartelt, Ferreira, Setvalls.

CD Alaves: Herrera, Contra, Ibon Begona, Eggen, Karmona, Magno, Cruff, Tomic, Desio, Ivan Alonso, Sarriegui. Subs: Kike, Javi Moreno, Pablo, Raul Ganan, Azkoitia, Mario, Vucko.

Referee: C Colombo (France)

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