SEVILLE: Brazilian striker Derlei Silva shattered Celtic's UEFA Cup dream with a 125th minute winner – Europe's first “silver goal” – as FC Porto announced their return to the upper reaches of European football with a thrilling 3-2 victory here on Wednesday.
Outclassed for long periods, Celtic had twice come from behind through Henrik Larsson headers to force the match into extra-time.
But after being reduced to 10 men by the sending off of Bobo Balde, Martin O'Neill's side were finally killed off after getting to within six minutes of a penalty shoot-out.
Celtic goalkeeper Rab Douglas failed to hold a shot from Porto's impish playmaker Deco and, for the second time in the evening, Derlei pounced on a rebound to give Porto their first European trophy since they won the European Champions Cup in 1987.
“Despite the many difficulties which we had to face we managed to score goals and emerge victorious,” said Derlei.
“This was not a victory for me, it was a victory for this fabulous team.”
“It was the most exhausting game in my career, with a fantastic intensity, with a limitless competitiveness, incomparable commitment and full of emotion,” Porto coach Jose Mourinho said.
O'Neill criticised the behaviour of some Porto players, who appeared to be diving and exaggerating the extent of their injuries, after his side were denied their first European trophy since 1967.
“I know I will get into a lot of trouble but it was poor sportsmanship really at the end of the day,” he told BBC Scotland.
Larsson, meanwhile, reflected on the bitterness of equalising twice yet still collecting a runner's up medal.
“To come back twice and still lose was unbelievable. But the luck wasn't on our side,” said the Swede.
“We have just lost one of the biggest games you can play as a professional footballer and I'm not very happy at the moment.”
Celtic, European champions in 1967, were appearing in their first continental final since 1970 and both sides started nervously.
Portuguese champions Porto gradually took control in the first half through the guile of Deco and they were rewarded when Douglas managed to push away Dmitri Alenitchev's volley only for Derlei to tuck in on the rebound.
Celtic needed a response early in the second half to unsettle Porto and it arrived within two minutes of the restart.
Didier Agathe arrowed in a cross to the far post where Larsson headed back across Vitor Baia and in off a post.
The equaliser brought roars from a Celtic crowd outnumbering Porto supporters by around three to one but the Portuguese contingent were singing again in the 54th minute when Alenitchev restored their lead.
The Russian was played into space by Deco's neat ball and he beat Douglas with a cool finish from around the edge of the area.
Once again, Porto had little time to celebrate as Larsson powered a header past Baia direct from a corner.
There were few chances for either side before a dramatic finale when Alenitchev intercepted a dreadful pass from Jackie McNamara and with the last kick of normal time flashed a shot just over.
Celtic chances of victory took a blow early in extra-time when Baldo was sent off for his second yellow card. Baldo left Slovakian referee Lubos Michel with no option but to send him off after unceremoniously upending Derlei four minutes into the first period of extra time.
The big French defender had been booked midway through the second half for a wild lunge at Deco.
By that stage, though, Porto had run out of steam and despite their numerical advantage they too seemed resigned to the lottery of a penalty shoot-out before Derlei delivered his killer blow. – Agencies
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