Celtic sets up title clash with Porto

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src='http://www.ndtv.com/convergence/images/thumbnail/ver1/U/Uefa1.jpg' class='caption'> Celtic reached the final of the UEFA Cup with a 1-0 win on Thursday over Boavista on a goal 10 minutes from the end by Henrik Larsson. Portugal's Porto also sai

Updated: February 25, 2007 09:48 IST
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Celtic reached the final of the UEFA Cup with a 1-0 win on Thursday over Boavista on a goal 10 minutes from the end by Henrik Larsson. The Scottish side produced a dull performance but scraped a 2-1 aggregate victory after drawing the first-leg semifinal at home 1-1 two weeks ago. Larsson ran into the Portuguese area and picked up a loose ball that, off-balance, the Swede tapped with his left foot past stranded goalie Ricardo Pereira. With the clock ticking, the goal was Celtic's latest last-gasp comeback after turnaround victories away from home against English sides Blackburn and Liverpool in previous rounds. The May 21 final in Seville, Spain, will be Celtic's third European cup final, after winning the European Champions Cup in 1967 and losing in the final three years later. Without a domestic cup this season and trailing city rival Rangers in the Scottish Premier League, the UEFA Cup is the Glasgow club's best chance for a trophy. "It's fantastic - a really great feeling," said Celtic coach Martin O'Neill. "I'm delighted for everyone at the club, the players and the supporters - to be perfectly honest the only people we could hear (in the crowd) were our supporters". But Celtic will have to show more flair than it did at the Bessa Stadium if it is to lift the trophy. The showdown produced a forgettable first half and it was only after the break that the game gathered pace, but there were few clear goal scoring chances. The outcome marked the end of the tiny Portuguese club's season. The Porto-based outfit, which has never advanced so far in a European competition, is languishing in 12th place in the 18-team Portuguese league. The scrappy first half was mostly uneventful for the capacity 11,000 crowd. Celtic was the more composed outfit, but apart from a half-chance for Larsson who tapped the ball wide after eight minutes the Scottish side made little headway. O'Neill brought on Chris Sutton, a star striker who had not played since breaking his wrist five weeks ago, in the 33rd minute. The jittery home team wanted to make its pace tell in attack but hit too many stray passes. Only after the half-hour mark did Boavista find its rhythm, and just before the interval, Martelinho broke down the right and crossed for Brazilian Silva whose glancing header was palmed away by goalie Robert Douglas. Boavista's Brazilian striking duo came close to scoring soon after the restart. Duda sprinted down the right flank and crossed to offer unmarked Silva a short-range diving header but he missed the target. Brazilian substitute Luiz Claudio almost beat Douglas to the ball after 70 minutes. A final spurt by Celtic during the tense final period brought fruit with Larsson's strike. Easy for Porto Portugal's Porto sailed into the UEFA Cup final by drawing 0-0 on Thursday with Lazio of Rome and advancing on a 4-1 aggregate score. Porto capitalized on its huge first-leg win at home in the second leg at Rome's Olympic Stadium. Lazio started three strikers - Claudio Lopez, Enrico Chiesa and Simone Inzaghi - in the attempt to recover the three-goal gap but still was unable to cause serious threats. The Roman side also failed to convert a second-half penalty kick. Both teams played the entire second period one player down after Porto star forward Helder Postiga and Lazio's Brazilian midfielder Cesar were ejected by French referee Gilles Veissiere for trading fouls in the 45th minute. Before getting the red card, Postiga led a dangerous attack and beat Lazio's goalkeeper Luca Marchegiani, but his shot was deflected by Serbian defender Sinisa Mihajlovic. The home team, fourth in the Serie A campaign, had the best first-half scoring chance after a few minutes when it was awarded an indirect free kick inside Porto's penalty area. Chiesa kicked over the crossbar. In the 55th, Porto's goalkeeper Victor Baia stopped Lopez's shot from the penalty spot, after Inzaghi was fouled close to the Portuguese net. Minutes later it was up to Marchegiani to save on a quick action by Brazilian Derlei. Qualification for the UEFA Cup final kept Porto on course for an unprecedented treble. It has a huge lead in the Portuguese League and a spot in the Portuguese Cup final. About 70,000 fans initially supported Lazio. Many left the stadium before the end of the match as Lazio's elimination looked certain. (AP)

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