Alaves beats Kaiserslautern


There’s almost sure to be a Spanish side in the finals of the UEFA Cup — but it may not be Barcelona. The modest Basque side Alaves dismantled Germany’s Kaiserslautern 5-1 in its first-leg semifinal Thursday on two goals from Romanian Cosmin Contra, all but guaranteeing its first appearance in a European cup final. But Barcelona, which looked afraid to attack — and when it tried was shut down by a tenacious Liverpool defense — played a 0-0 draw at Camp Nou before unhappy, whistling fans. The draw should give Liverpool the advantage on April 19 at Anfield when both clubs will be forced to attack in the second leg.

Barcelona 0, Liverpool 0 At Barcelona, Spain, the lackluster match was nearly devoid of any serious scoring chances and drew frequent whistles of disapproval from the less than capacity crowd at 100,000 seat Camp Nou stadium. Barcelona, which controlled possession in the first half but never pushed forward into the 18-yard (meter) box, was a bit more adventurous in the second half — but not much. Luis Enrique had a good scoring shot from 15-meters (yards) blocked by Jamie Carragher in the 52nd, and seconds later Patrick Kluivert fired wide from close in. Substitute Xavi Hernandez also came close to scoring through a maze of players in the 85th with Sander Westerveld making a comfortable save. Liverpool, with strikers Emile Heskey and Michael Owen seldom touching the ball and playing defense, never threatened to score, contend to defend and close down on Rivaldo, Luis Enrique, Marc Overmars and Kluivert. The Barcelona vs. Liverpool showdown in the UEFA Cup semifinal recreated the matchup in 1976 when Liverpool ousted Barca over two legs and went on to win the cup in the finals. Alaves 5, Kaiserslautern 1 At Vitoria, Spain, the Basque side looks set for its first European final after enjoying an emphatic home triumph over a predictable Kaiserlautern. Three penalty goals, two by Romanian international Cosmin Contra and one by Ivan Alonso, as well as strikes by Jordi Cruyff and Magno Mocelin gave the modest Basque outfit a historic victory in its debut season in European competition. Extraordinarily, Kaiserslautern also scored from a penalty kick, converted in the 67th minute by defender Harry Koch. Unless the German side pulls off a major turn-around in the return encounter on April 19th at the Fritz Walter Stadium, the Vitoria-based club will meet Liverpool or compatriots in the final.