'I know I will get into trouble, but it was poor sportsmanship'

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The Independent Football

The Celtic manager, Martin O'Neill, criticised the behaviour of Porto's players after last night's Uefa Cup final defeat. When asked if the game was played in the right spirit by the Portuguese side, there was a significant pause before O'Neill said: "What's the next question?

"If you're asking me, you must be concerned yourself. I know I will get into a lot of trouble, but it was poor sportsmanship. But they have won and good luck to them.

"We will learn from this. It has been a wonderful experience and the crowd were absolutely fantastic.

"The players put everything into the game and we couldn't ask for any more. We came roaring back each time they scored, but I fancied us."

O'Neill pinpointed the dismissal of Bobo Balde five minutes into extra-time as the main reason for Celtic's defeat.

"Bobo got sent off and we were very tired," he said. "It was probably the turning point, because we were looking forward to extra-time. We were mentally strong and the dismissal was a massive blow."

Henrik Larsson scored his 200th and 201st goals for Celtic, but was in no mood to celebrate. "To come back twice and still lose was unbelievable," he said. "We have just lost one of the biggest games you can play as a professional footballer and I'm not very happy. We lost and there is no joy whatsoever."

The Celtic captain, Paul Lambert, praised the Porto players, despite the play-acting throughout the game. "That is the way they play it. I thought they were great and deserved everything they got," he said.

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