FC Porto and Celtic await UEFA Cup final

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src=' ' class='caption'> FC Porto and Glasgow Celtic, both former Champions Cup winners, to clash in the UEFA Cup final at the Olympic Stadium on Wednesday at Seville.

Updated: February 25, 2007 09:48 IST
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FC Porto and Glasgow Celtic, both former Champions Cup winners, will be hoping to lift a new European trophy Wednesday when they meet in the UEFA Cup final at the Olympic Stadium. Porto won the Champions Cup in 1987 by beating Bayern Munich 2-1 in Vienna. It won the European Super Cup the same year. Celtic celebrated its only European triumph 36 years ago when it defeated Inter Milan 2-1 in Lisbon to become the first British club to win the Champions Cup. The Scottish side's only other final came in 1970 when it lost 2-1 to Feyenoord in the same competition. On Wednesday, Porto is a slight favorite thanks to a memorable season which could bring it three trophies. The Dragons have already clinched the Portuguese league title and play Leiria in the Portuguese Cup final on June 15. Much of the credit for the success is owed to coach Jose Mourinho, who took charge in January 2002. "I'm not claiming that we're unbeatable, but on a given day we have the quality to win anywhere," said Mourinho, who prior to his arrival at Porto lasted just three months at Benfica. On the field, Porto's inspiration comes from midfielder Deco, a Brazilian who has taken Portuguese nationality and now plays for his adopted country's national team. "Deco is a truly world class player. Not only does he produce great individual brilliance; he offers so much to the team. He is a superb passer and has a competitive personality," Mourinho said. Celtic has also been revitalized by its coach, Belfast-born Martin O'Neill, who took charge in 2000 when the club languished in the shadows of crosstown rival Rangers. O'Neill guided Celtic to a treble of Scotland's league, cup and league cup in his first season and followed up with another league title last year. Celtic could make it three titles in a row if it emerges triumphant from a tense title run-in with Rangers this season. The Northern Irishman, whose success has made him a contender to succeed Manchester United's Alex Ferguson, said Porto was now better than when it eliminated Celtic from the Champions League last season. "They are a very fine side and have improved since then so we will be up against it, but that's probably the way we favor it and we will do everything in our power to win it," O'Neill said. "They will be hard opposition. But we are also a better side and have more experience and one or two more options than we had then." Porto reached the final by overcoming Polonia Warsaw, Austria Vienna, Lens, Denizlispor, Panathinaikos and Lazio. Celtic, which entered the UEFA Cup after being eliminated by FC Basel in the Champions League qualifying round, has knocked out Suduva, Blackburn, Celta de Vigo, VfB Stuttgart, Liverpool and Boavista. The finalists boast the top scorers in this season's competition. Porto's Brazilian forward Derlei has scored 10, while Celtic's Swedish striker Henrik Larsson has one less, level with Wisla Krakow's Maciej Zurawski. Neither team will field a full-strength side on Wednesday. Celtic's Welsh striker John Hartson is ruled out with a slipped disc and will probably be replaced by English forward Chris Sutton. However, goalkeeper Robert Douglas looks to have recovered from a long-running thigh problem, while Bulgarian midfielder Stilian Petrov is set to play despite a broken right hand. Porto striker Helder Postiga is suspended after being ejected in the second leg of the semifinals with Lazio. Lithuanian striker Edgaras Jankauskas is set to deputize. Defender Nuno Valente and midfielder Costinha both trained with no adverse reaction on Sunday and were included in Porto's squad, which arrived in Seville the following day. Celtic, which as a representative of Glasgow's Catholic population has strong Irish connections, is expected to receive the majority of the support at the 56,000 stadium on Wednesday. It is estimated that some 50,000 supporters will be making the journey - with some coming from the United States, Australia and the Far East - although less than half have match tickets. If the scores are level after 90 minutes, the "silver goal" system will be used for the first time. If one team is in the lead after 15 minutes of extra time it will be declared the winner. If not, a second 15 minutes will be played. The game will be decided by penalties if the teams are still tied. (AP)

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