Fri, May 23, 2003 - Page 24 News List

FC Porto wins the UEFA Cup

EUROPEAN SOCCER The Portuguese won the trophy for the first time, battling a physically stronger Scottish team during extra time in an intensely contested match

AP , SEVILLE, SPAIN

Porto's players raise up the UEFA Cup trophy after winning the final match against Celtic in Seville on Wednesday. Porto won 3-2 after scoring during extra time.

PHOTO: REUTERS

Brazilian striker Derlei scored twice in a man-of-the-match effort Wednesday as FC Porto downed Celtic 3-2 in extra time to win the UEFA Cup for the first time.

Derlei netted the first goal of the match in the 45th minute and scored the matchwinner in the 115th to help the Portuguese team to its first European trophy since 1987, and end the hopes of the Scottish team which played the last 25 minutes with 10 men.

Porto's technical superiority eventually told against a physically stronger Scottish team, which toiled manfully after the ejection of defender Bobo Balde. Celtic remains without a trophy in Europe since winning the Champions Cup in 1967.

Porto's victory was tainted by accusations by Celtic's Northern Irish coach Martin O'Neill that it had not played fairly.

The estimated 35,000 Celtic fans in the 60,000-seat Olympic Stadium booed and chanted "cheats" at Porto's players as the Portuguese tried to applaud the Scots during victory celebrations.

"I wasn't pleased at all by Porto," O'Neill said. "They have some very talented players but you saw the reaction they got tonight from our fans as they collected their medals. Celtic fans are as fair-minded as any in Europe and you saw their reaction tonight.''

Porto coach Jose Mourinho denounced the accusations, saying that only a timid performance by Slovakia referee Lubos Michel had enabled Celtic to keep 11 men on the pitch until Balde's ejection.

The French defender received two yellow cards -- and automatic ejection -- for wild challenges on Deco in the 79th minute and 95th.

"I prefer to ask if the behavior of Celtic players is normal in your country," Mourinho said. "What Balde did to Deco could have finished the career of a player."

O'Neill said he was proud of his players despite their heartbreaking defeat, and said they could have won.

"The sending-off had an effect," he said. "We gave a fantastic performance in searing heat. We were immense tonight. We have been immense in victory in the past and we were immense in defeat tonight. Sometimes you get what you deserve but we deserved more tonight."

The match will also be remembered for a sparkling contribution by Deco, who tormented the Celtic defense and had a hand in all three of his team's goals.

The Brazilian-born midfielder, who now plays for the Portuguese national side, created the first goal with a pass to left back Nuno Valente, and the defender's shot was parried by goalkeeper Robert Douglas only for Derlei to race in and convert the chance.

The midfielder was again the provider in the 57th as he received a pass from Paulo Ferreira, and sent the ball into the path of scorer Dimitri Alenitchev.

Deco helped in the winning goal by laying on a pass for Marco Ferreira. After Douglas had parried the substitute's shot, Derlei moved inside one challenge and fired the ball home.

For the other double goalscorer on the field, Celtic's Swedish striker Henrik Larsson, the goals were to no avail.

The idol of the Celtic fans headed home the equalizer from Didier Agathe's cross just after halftime for the 200th goal of his Celtic career, and nodded the second equalizer from Alan Thompson's corner in the 57th.

"Everyone's very down. We have to find a way to get back up but our team is very strong mentally and has great character," Larsson said. O'Neill said that Larsson's performance was "a world-class one by a world-class player."

This story has been viewed 3656 times.
TOP top