Derlei denies Celtic place among legends

Celtic 2 Porto 3
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The Independent Football

The first so-called Silver Goal ended Celtic's hopes of a golden finale to a thrilling Uefa Cup campaign in the Olympic Stadium last night. Porto, facing 10 men for all but five minutes of extra time after Bobo Balde was sent off for a second bookable offence, settled a dramatic final through the Brazilian Derlei with five minutes of the additional half-hour left.

Rab Douglas could only beat out a shot by Marco Ferreira and Derlei drove it back in, the ball entering the net off Ulrik Laursen. Unlike the final of two years ago, when a "golden" own goal by Alaves gave the trophy to Liverpool, Porto had to play out the remaining time. They had Nuno Valente dismissed for a second yellow card as the tie entered injury time, but held on with few alarms.

In normal time - not that there was anything normal about this cacophonous occasion - the teams had traded four goals during a dizzying 12-minute spell either side of half-time. Porto, a more polished outfit who had the outstanding individual in the artful Deco, led twice through Derlei and Dmitri Alenichev.

Yet Celtic's collective heart is as big as a cathedral. Each time they produced instant equalisers, both from Henrik Larsson's head. Once they were depleted by Balde's folly, however, they had little chance of conjuring the third riposte that would have earned a penalty shoot-out.

At the bitter end Celtic and their vast following, who had been hoping to emulate Jock Stein's 1967 Lions of Lisbon, had to endure the hated sight of a blue-and-white celebration, knowing only too well that it will merely be a preview of Sunday's final instalment in the struggle for the Scottish title should Rangers prevail.

Martin O'Neill, the Celtic manager, certainly faces one of the toughest tests of his managerial career to lift his troops for their 60th game of the season. Winning at Kilmarnock would have been hard enough without a prolonged battle in sapping heat.

Many of Celtic's green army, who had made pilgrimages from the United States ("Texas Fenian Bhoys" read one banner), the Far East, Europe, Tyneside, Ireland and even Glasgow, booed Porto as they stepped up to claim their prize. Some of the Portuguese theatrics, notably a dying-swan act by keeper Vitor Baia when he had not been touched, left a sour taste, but overall they were the superior side.

Celtic's support outnumbered Porto's by three to one, but sadly an ear-bleeding barrage of noise is no guarantee of victory. Porto, as their coach Jose Mourinho noted, are accustomed to performing at venues where all the crowd are against them.

In a contest strewn with players crashing to the turf - there were nearly 60 fouls - they had the better of the exchanges despite making an early substitution. Costinha, the midfield anchor, seemed to pull a muscle while executing a pass and gave way to Ricardo Costa. It was already evident that Celtic had earmarked Deco, the Brazilian-born Portuguese international, as the principal source of danger. One illegal challenge on him, by Joos Valgaeren, resulted in Douglas making the first save of note from Maniche's 25-yard volley following a free-kick routine.

Playing a longer, less intricate game than Porto, Celtic gradually settled, and Baia's hands needed to be at their most adhesive to prevent their taking the lead midway through the first half. Larsson, fouled by Maniche, bludgeoned the free-kick which the keeper did well to hold as Valgaeren darted in looking for scraps.

Celtic lived dangerously when a corner kick landed in their six-yard box, and again as Deco swept past one defender before Neil Lennon lunged to deflect his shot behind, but they were caught out in first-half stoppage tine. Deco's exquisite chipped pass across the penalty area found Alenichev unmarked, and when Douglas could only parry the Russian's shot, Derlei nipped in to convert the rebound.

The second half was about to start when a male spectator ran on, dropped his shorts in the centre circle and ran away, ball at his feet, towards Baia's goal. The keeper stuck out a leg to prevent his net being ruffled as the interloper disappeared under a scrum of police officers.

Within 100 seconds of the restart a streak of altogether greater significance for Celtic was maintained. Didier Agathe's deep cross found Larsson rising beyond the far post to send a looping header back across goal. The ball struck the other upright before rolling into the net for the Swede's 200th goal for Celtic.

In the 54th minute, Porto edged in front again, and once more Deco was the creator, beating Valgaeren before his pass split the Celtic defence, allowingAlenichev to despatch a crisp drive past Douglas.

A third goal in 11 minutes brought Celtic level before the hour. A short corner resulted in the left-footed Alan Thompson swinging the ball in from the right, whereupon Larsson materialised unchallenged in the heart of Porto's area, like the instinctive finisher he is, to make it 2-2 and 201.

Suddenly, the game was living up to expectations. Celtic, far from wilting in the humid conditions, were full of running after their two swift levellers until Balde left them facing a thankless task. Derlei, by drilling in his 12th goal in the competition, not only edged in front of Larsson as top scorer but left O'Neill facing the prospect of Celtic's most exciting season since the Stein era ending bereft of silverware.

Celtic 2
Larsson 47, 57

Porto 3
Derlei 45, 115, Alenichev 54

Aet; 2-2 at 90 min Att: 52,972

Celtic (3-5-2): Douglas; Mjallby, Balde, Valgaeren (Laursen, 64); Agathe, Lambert, (McNamara, 76), Lennon, Petrov (Maloney, 104), Thompson; Larsson, Sutton. Substitutes not used: Sylla, Fernandez, Smith, Hedman (gk).

Porto (4-4-2): Vitor Baia; Paulo Ferreira, Jorge Costa (Pedro Emanuel, 71), Carvalho, Valente; Deco, Costinha (Ricardo Costa, 9), Capucho (Marco Ferreira, 98), Maniche; Derlei, Alenichev. Substitutes not used: Peixoto, Clayton, Taigo, Nuno (gk).

Referee: L Michel (Slovakia).



Rab Douglas 7/10
Solid and unflustered. Made fines saves from Deco and Alenitchev. Not at fault for first two goals, unlucky with third.

Johan Mjallby 6
Mostly composed and tidy, making powerful challenges. Wandered slightly at times.

Bobo Balde 7
Seemed nervy in opening exchanges, but gained composure to get typically tough tackles in. Too tough in the end - he was sent off in extra-time.

Joos Valgaeren 5
Earned an early yellow card by taking out Deco, which tempered his tackling thereafter.

Didier Agathe 6
Made his trademark wide runs and quick, accurate crosses infrequently, but superb delivery for Larsson's second.

Paul Lambert 7
The biggest problem in the first half was a lack of possession. When it came, he ran with it and used the ball cleverly.

Neil Lennon 6
Given responsibility for picking up Deco, no easy task. But tackled and pressed with increasing urgency.

Stilian Petrov 6
A strong start in the middle, alternately harrying for the ball and patient for chance to pass.

Alan Thompson 6
Gave options for width on the left that were under-exploited. Most effective when he slowed the pace to find a telling pass.

Henrik Larsson 8
Used his brain for dainty first-half runs and touches then his head for two equalisers, one excellent, one simply powerful.

Chris Sutton 7
Worked tirelessly against run of play to win the ball and act as a decoy for Larsson. Brave late assistance in midfield.


Ulrik Laursen 5 (on for Valgaeren, 64) Added touch of composure.

Jackie McNamara 4 (on for Lambert, 76) Gave away the ball twice in dangerous positions.

Shaun Maloney 6 (on for Petrov, 104) Fresh legs provided promise, but wasted opportunities.


Vitor Baia 4/10
Mixed. No brilliance required or given despite one good save. Pathetic, cynical time-wasting at death.

Paulo Ferreira 6
Eager to attack down the right, he risked leaving space by pressing forward, but tracked back well.

Jorge Costa 6
Ex-Charlton defender showed early aggression but calmed down and passed well.

Ricardo Carvalho 5
Used power and height to good effect. But, like some team-mates, suffered lapses of concentration.

Nuno Valente 6
Can take some credit for Larsson having quiet first half. Passing was fluid. Marred his night with deserved red card.

Deco 9
As far as Celtic were concerned, a constant menace with his pace, deft footwork, quick brain, neat passing and ease on the ball. A gem.

Costinha 4
Lasted less than nine minutes before succumbing to injury.

Capucho 7
Upping tempo then slowed it seemingly at will. Combined superbly with Derlei. Ran all night.

Maniche 6
Mostly played a midfield holding role in front on the defence. Erred when going forward.

Derlei 8
Persistent threat on the edge of the box. Livewire when dropping deep. Thumped the opener and extra-time winner.

Dmitri Alenichev 8
Anonymous for 30 minutes then exploded into game and scored a composed goal.


Ricardo Costa 5 (on for Costinha, 9) Steady throughout.

Pedro Emanuel 5 (on for Jorge Costa, 71) Solid performance.

Marco Ferreira 5 (on for Capucho, 98) Became frustrated, but assisted in winner.

Marks by Nick Harris