Friday, May 21, 2010

21 May 2003 - Mourinho's Stepping Stone

On 21 May 2003, Porto won the UEFA Cup, beating Celtic 3-2 in extra time at Seville's Estadio Olímpico. It was the first European honor for Porto manager José Mourinho, who built on the success by winning the Champions League the next season.

Under normal circumstances, Celtic would have been heavy favorites. But, at the time of the match, Porto had already secured the Portuguese Liga title with two matches to spare and were completely focused on the Final. Celtic, meanwhile, were tied on points with SPL leader Rangers, but behind on goal differential with one match left. In addition, the day's hot weather forced the teams to play at a slower pace, which also favored Porto.

Porto's midfield general Deco orchestrated a first-half attack that put his side ahead in the 45th minute as midfielder Dmitri Alenichev's shot was parried by Celtic keep Robert Douglas into the path of Porto's Brazilin forward, Derlei, who drove it home. The lead did not last long, however, as Henrik Larsson - that year's top SPL scorer - equalized with a 47th-minute header. It was his tenth goal of the tournament and his 200th goal for Celtic.

Two more quick goals followed, with Alenichev putting Porto ahead once more in the 54th minute, then Larsson finding another equalizer in the 57th minute. The teams were stalemated at 2-2 through the end of regulation, forcing the match into extra time and triggering the silver goal rule. The Final was the first match played under the silver goal rule, which meant that a lead for either side after the first half of extra time would end the match. As it turned out, though, neither team scored in the first period, so they played the full allotment of time. In the 115th minute, Derlei again pounced on a Douglas block to score the goal and seal the win.

It was Porto's first European trophy in 16 years, but they would not have to wait as long for the next one, as they beat AS Monaco in the next season's Champions League Final. Celtic, meanwhile, went on to lose the SPL title race to Rangers despite winning their last match 4-0, as Rangers won theirs 6-1.

No comments:

Post a Comment