Celtic FC were frustrated by a well-organised Boavista FC side in the first leg of their UEFA Cup semi-final at Celtic Park.
Celtic scored both goals with a Joos Valgaeren own goal giving the visitors the lead on 48 minutes before Henrik Larsson restored parity a minute later. Boavista will be the happier of the two sides, though, especially as Ricardo pulled off a great save to keep out a Larsson penalty. However, Celtic will remember they were held 1-1 at home by Liverpool FC in the quarter-finals but still progressed.
Celtic were expected to start the game in their trademark high-tempo fashion but with Boavista defending from the front the home side were unable to get forward in numbers. Larsson did, however, find space on seven minutes on the right side of the penalty area but John Hartson's pass had too much pace and the Swede's effort spun wide of goal.
A minute later the Scottish champions had a penalty appeal turned down when Filipe Anunciação seemed to handle the ball as he slipped. Celtic continued to probe down the right, hoping to unsettle the Portuguese defence with the pace of Didier Agathe. However, they were almost caught on the break on 17 minutes after another attack floundered, with Duda's shot being deflected for a corner.
As the half wore on the home side's delivery became more wayward much to the frustration of the crowd. The second half started in brighter fashion, though, and Boavista went ahead on 48 minutes. Anunciação broke into the Celtic area and his hopeful low cross was deflected into his own net by the unfortunate Valgaeren. However, Celtic responded immediately. Neil Lennon played a curling ball into the area and Stilian Petrov's adroit touch found Larsson who scored with a low shot from eight metres.
The game continued at a blistering pace and two Boavista players, Duda and Ávalos, received yellow cards. But as Celtic went in search of a second goal, Lennon almost let in the visitors when he gave the ball away and was then booked for a foul on Duda as the striker raced forward.
Yet the momentum was increasingly with Celtic. The ever-willing Hartson saw a close-range shot blocked by Ricardo and the goalkeeper did well to keep out Larsson's free-kick. Martin O'Neill's men then sensed the breakthrough on 75 minutes when the ball ricocheted on to Éder's hand and the referee awarded a penalty.
The usual reliable Larsson, however, saw his penalty kick superbly saved by Ricardo at his right-hand post. Hartson then had a chance in the 85th minute after the goalkeeper dropped the ball but Paulo Turra cleared off the line.
Celtic manager O'Neill was still confident afterwards, saying: "The players are disappointed and frustrated but we are capable of going to Portugal and winning. Sometimes you need a bit of luck but it deserted us tonight." Boavista coach Jaime Pacheco believed the tie was still very much in the balance. "It is 50-50 and even though we drew 1-1 away from home there is still no favourite," he said. "Because of Celtic's result at Liverpool it is too early to say we are through."
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