ELCHE (Spain): Cameroon striker Samuel Eto'o played a starring role in Real Mallorca's first King's Cup success as he grabbed two superbly struck goals that helped his side to a 3-0 win over Recreativo Huelva in Saturday's final.
The win means that the islanders, who beat Real Madrid and last season's winners Deportivo Coruna on their way to the final, now join Valencia and Barcelona to complete Spain's trio of representatives in next season's UEFA Cup.
Uruguayan striker Walter Pandiani put the islanders ahead on 21 minutes when he smashed home a penalty after Eto'o was hauled down on the goal line by Recre defender Loren.
Man of the match Eto'o, who will flew to Paris yesterday morning to play for Cameroon in the Confederations Cup final against hosts France, then struck twice late in the second half to wrap up the victory.
The young striker dedicated the victory to fellow Cameroon international Marc Vivien-Foe, who collapsed during Thursday's Confederations Cup semi-final win over Colombia and died shortly afterwards.
“It was a very special win because of what happened this week,” he told Spanish television. “I have got a team mate who is now sitting up there beside God and this victory is for him.”
Coach Gregorio Manzano said he was delighted with his team's performance. “It has been an excellent season and putting a first King's Cup in our trophy room was the perfect way to complete it.”
It was third time lucky for the islanders who finished as runners-up in their previous two Cup final appearances, losing out 1-0 to Atletico Madrid in 1991 and then in a penalty shootout to Barcelona in 1998.
For Recreativo it was a disappointing end to a season in which they were also relegated to division two after just one campaign in the top flight, but it did not stop their supporters from joining the Mallorca fans in their celebrations at the end.
Recre started the match in promising fashion but struggled to cope with the islanders' pacy attack and Mallorca's opener followed a slick passing move just after the 20-minute mark.
Argentine midfielder Ariel Ibagaza carved open the Recre defence with a sharp ball down the left wing to Pandiani, who clipped a teasing cross towards strike partner Eto'o.
But before the Cameroon international could make contact he was hauled down by Recre defender Loren on the goal line.
Pandiani stepped up to take the penalty and sent goalkeeper Luque the wrong way to the delight of the 15,000 Mallorca fans packed into one end of the Martinez Valero stadium.
Recre had the ball in the net in the final minute of the half when substitute Xisco headed home at the far post, but the effort was ruled out for a foul by the pocket-sized striker.
The Andalucians continued to push hard for an equaliser after the restart but were unable to cope as Mallorca made the most of the gaps they left at the back.
Eto'o made certain of victory by grabbing a late double.
His first came on 74 minutes when he raced on to a fine through ball from Albert Riera and drilled under Luque and inside the post.
Ten minutes later he struck again, this time completing a swift counter attack by swerving past two defenders and firing home with a powerful angled shot.
Eto'o left the pitch to a standing ovation when he substituted just before the final whistle. – Reuters