Thursday, May 22, 2003


About 10 million tuned in the other night to see Celtic Football Club (recently adopted by the BBC as a "British" team) battle FC Porto, classy Portugeuse side (home of the Golden Generation that won, well, bugger all), in the final of the UEFA Cup. If you missed the game, it was a pulsating, whole-hearteded affair with Porto edging it. Twice they went ahead, but both times Celtic's irrepressible Swede, Henrik Larsson, headed them level. The turning point was the dismissal of Bobo Balde in the first extra period - or supplementary period as UEFA seem to call it.. That put Celtic, the better side for much of the second half and the more likely to score, on the back foot. The pressure finally told and Derlei notched his second goal after the Hoops failed to clear up Deco's incisive through ball.

UEFA fat person, Lennart Johansson thought the hosts, Seville, staged an excellent final. "There has been a party here which has sent an important signal to football fans everywhere," Mr Johansson continued. "I pay tribute to the magnificent supporters of Celtic and Porto and thank them for what they have contributed to this great occasion." Certainly, every seat was filled apart from those on the touchline forming a "moat" around the ground. That failed after half-time when a streaker red carded the ref. Hats off to the great Celtic support.

Too bad fat boy didn't see a weak refereeing performance. Celtic manager, Martin O'Neill, was none too pleased about the rolling in agony by Porto players. On the other hand, Porto fans and their coach had something to say about Celtic tackles. I think this might add something to that, but my Portuguese is rusty.

Speaking as a neutral, I have to go along with this: "The match was disfigured by the sight of their players feigning injury and being stretchered off, only to run back seconds later. Either their trainer has Jesus-like healing qualities or they were cheating." from the News and Star. The referee was also rather lenient on one or two Celtic challenges. But, I'm not sure what Alex Ferguson would say about his timekeeping. At the 45 minute mark in the first half, the fourth official indicated four minutes extra minutes. Porto scored seconds later and spent at least three minutes celebrating. Did the ref add back those three minutes? Did he bugger.

Anyway, well done Celtic. You did a power of good for Scottish (not British) football. Martin O'Neill is a genius, better off in Glasgow than Leeds. Despite the undoubted brilliance of Larsson, this is a collection of mediocre players fashioned into something greater than its parts.

Went looking for a Celtic blog, but only found this Polish site devoted to pictures of windswept parts of Ireland.
Henrik's Tongue deserves a mention. But, pooh, to the official Fenian site which requires registration. I couldn't be bothered so I can't report if you have to declare your religion.

:: Posted by pete @ 16:23