22/05/2003

Celtic gear up for home league showdown

Bhoys manager Martin O'Neill was in pensive mood today following last night's gallant effort by Celtic despite their 3-2 Uefa Cup Final defeat in Seville.

Despite criticising eventual winners Porto for their "poor sportsmanship" O'Neill maintained that his side had "put everything into it" and that their European adventure had been a "wonderful, wonderful experience".

Celtic went behind twice during the game only to pull goals back from Swedish master Henrik Larsson who scored two fabulous headers within fifteen minutes of the second half restart.

However it was the sending off of Bobo Balde in extra time which turned the tide of the game as Porto upped the ante of the game.

With just five minutes left Derlei collected a loose ball to fire past a stranded Robert Douglas in goal. Game over, and Porto were on their way to their first ever Uefa Cup victory.

While defeat will leave a bitter taste in the mouths of most Celtic players over the coming weeks they have a chance to put a smile back on the face of their manager this weekend.

With just one game remaining in their domestic League, Celtic have a chance to retain the championship. However this all depends on how they and Glasgow rivals Rangers fare on Sunday.

Only one goal separates the two sides at the top of the division, but it is Rangers who are in the driving seat. They face Dunfermline at home while Celtic must shake off those tired limbs and beat Kilmarknock away from.

While connotations are endless, one thing is certain, Celtic have had a remarkable season and Northern Ireland man, Martin O'Neill should be proud of his achievements.

(MB)

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