Derlei joy as penalty puts Porto in final

Deportivo La Coru&Atilde;&plusmn;a 0 Porto 1 <i>Porto win 1-0 on agg</i>
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Brazilian striker Derlei converted a 60th–minute penalty last night as FC Porto edged Deportivo de La Coruna 1–0 to reach the Champions Cup final.

Brazilian striker Derlei converted a 60th–minute penalty last night as FC Porto edged Deportivo de La Coruna 1–0 to reach the Champions Cup final.

Derlei's goal at Deportivo's Riazor Stadium in the second leg of the semifinals was the only one in the teams' two matches. The win boosted Porto's hopes of becoming only the fifth European team to win the treble of the Champions Cup, domestic league and Cup.

Jose Mourinho's team has already won the Portuguese league title, and plays Benfica in the Portuguese Cup final on May 16.

Porto, which won the trophy in its only previous final appearance in 1987, will play either Monaco or Chelsea in the final in Gelsenkirchen, Germany, on May 26. Monaco won the first leg 3–1.

"We played a fantastic match. We played really well from the first minute and were very strong mentally," Mourinho told Canal Plus TV. "We were much the better team and we deserved our victory."

Deportivo, which had Moroccan defender Noureddine Naybet ejected in the 70th minute, was well below its best in a tense clash between the sides from the northwestern corner of the Iberian peninsula and failed in its attempt to reach its first European final.

"It wasn't possible. It's a shame," Deportivo coach Javier Irureta told Canal Plus. "It was a balanced match but perhaps we suffered the absences of two players (suspended Brazilian veteran anchorman Mauro Silva and defender Jorge Andrade).

"The key moments were the penalty and the sending off. We made a titanic effort but we have to congratulate Porto."

Mourinho took a gamble which proved crucial by leaving South African striker Benni McCarthy on the bench and replacing him with Derlei, who has only just recovered after four months out with a cruciate ligament injury.

"Derlei is a very special player. He gave us back what we'd been missing in his absence. His ability to perform in high–pressure games was one of our secrets," Mourinho said.

The Brazilian, who scored twice in Porto's UEFA Cup final victory over Celtic last season, made his first notable contribution to the game when he was felled by Naybet, earning the Moroccan defender his first caution.

The game, which was attended by Spain's King Juan Carlos, at first resembled the gray 0–0 draw in the first leg at Porto's Dragon Stadium, with Portugal midfielder Nuno Maniche's fluffed volley in the 17th minute all the first half hour had to offer.

Both sides appeared nervous and the home team's attempts at mounting attacks were thwarted by Porto's disciplined defense and rugged tackling.

Deportivo then enjoyed a brief period of control and should have taken the lead in the 36th minute when Deportivo midfielder Juan Carlos Valeron spurned his team's only clear chance of the game by sidefooting the ball well wide, with only Porto goalkeeper Vitor Baia to beat.

The second half began in dramatic fashion when the diving Derlei headed onto goalkeeper Jose Francisco Molina's right post from a cross by Brazilian–born midfielder Deco. A minute later, central defender Cesar Martin, Andrade's replacement, denied the Brazilian striker as Porto began to create problems for the Deportivo defense.

Cesar soon went from hero to villain when his clumsy challenge brought Deco down just inside the penalty area and Derlei stroked the spot kick past Molina to break the deadlock, which had lasted 150 minutes in the two matches.

Derlei's goal continued Porto's record in the Champions League this season of having scored in every away match, while it was the first Deportivo had conceded at home. "I think we could have won if it hadn't been for the penalty," Irureta said.

Porto's goal meant Deportivo needed two goals in the last half hour to advance, and Irureta responded by bringing on Spain striker Diego Tristan to bolster his team's underachieving attack.

Five minutes later, Uruguay striker Walter Pandiani glanced a header just wide but Naybet compounded his teams' woes by receiving a second yellow card for a wild tackle on Derlei.

Tristan sent a free kick just wide in the 77th minute but, despite its urgency, Deportivo largely failed to trouble Porto's efficient rearguard and succumbed tamely.

Mourinho, who has been widely tipped to be the replacement for Chelsea coach Claudio Ranieri, said after the game he would be attending the other semifinal and his presence at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday will fuel speculation that he is to leave Porto in the summer.

Deportivo La Coruña: Molina; Manuel Pablo, Romero, Naybet, Cesar; Sergio (Tristan, 67), Duscher, Victor (Scaloni, 55), Valeron; Luque (Fran, 73), Pandiani. Subs not used: Munua, Capdevila, Djalminha, Amo.

Porto: Vitor Baia; Valente, Paulo Ferreira, Jorge Costa, Ricardo Carvalho; Costinha, Maniche, Pedro Mendes (Bosingwa, 87), Deco; Derlei (McCarthy, 90), Carlos Alberto (Pedro Emanuel 68). Subs not used: Nuno, Ricardo Costa, Alenitchev, Jankauskas.

Referee: P Collina (Italy).

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