FC Porto edge out Deportivo
A Coruna, May 5:
Brazilian striker Derlei converted a 60th-minute penalty on Tuesday as FC Porto edged Deportivo de La Coruna 1-0 to reach the Champions Cup final. Derlei’s goal at Deportivo’s Riazor Stadium in the second leg of the semi-finals was the only one in the teams’ two matches. The win boosted Porto’s hopes of becoming only the fifth European team to win the treble of the Champions Cup, domestic league and Cup. Jose Mourinho’s team has already won the Portuguese league title, and plays Benfica in the Portuguese Cup final on May 16.
Porto, which won the trophy in its only previous final appearance in 1987, will play either Monaco or Chelsea in the final in Gelsenkirchen, Germany, on May 26. Monaco won the first leg 3-1.
Deportivo, which had Moroccan defender Noureddine Naybet ejected in the 70th minute, was well below its best in a tense clash between the sides from the northwestern corner of the Iberian peninsula and failed in its attempt to reach its first European final. Mourinho took a gamble which proved crucial by leaving South African striker Benni McCarthy on the bench and replacing him with Derlei, who has only just recovered after four months out with a cruciate ligament injury.
The Brazilian, who scored twice in Porto’s UEFA Cup final victory over Celtic last season, made his first notable contribution to the game when he was felled by Naybet, earning the Moroccan defender his first caution. The game, which was attended by Spain’s King Juan Carlos, at first resembled the gray 0-0 draw in the first leg at Porto’s Dragon Stadium, with Portugal midfielder Nuno Maniche’s fluffed volley in the 17th minute all the first half hour had to offer.
Both sides appeared nervous and the home team’s attempts at mounting attacks were thwarted by Porto’s disciplined defence and rugged tackling. Deportivo then enjoyed a brief period of control and should have taken the lead in the 36th minute when Deportivo midfielder Juan Carlos Valeron spurned his team’s only clear chance of the game by sidefooting the ball well wide, with only Porto goalkeeper Vitor Baia to beat. The second half began in dramatic fashion when the diving Derlei headed onto goalkeeper Jose Francisco Molina’s right post from a cross by Brazilian-born midfielder Deco. A minute later, central defender Cesar Martin, Andrade’s replacement, denied the Brazilian striker as Porto began to create problems for the Deportivo defence.
Cesar soon went from hero to villain when his clumsy challenge brought Deco down just inside the penalty area and Derlei stroked the spot kick past Molina to break the deadlock, which had lasted 150 minutes in the two matches. Derlei’s goal continued Porto’s record
in the Champions League this season of having scored in every away match, while it was the first Deportivo had conceded at home.