By Simon Hart
The UEFA Cup final was an occasion to remember and one of its major subplots - the face-off between the tournament's two leading scorers - certainly did not disappoint. FC Porto striker Derlei and Celtic FC's Swedish international Henrik Larsson entered the final with ten and nine goals respectively and both lived up to their billing, scoring two goals apiece. Derlei's double won Porto the game and himself the Carlsberg Man of the Match award.
In the absence of the suspended Hélder Postiga, Derlei started the match alongside Capucho in the 4-4-2 system coach José Mourinho favours for European nights and which, in the Brazilian's words, "gives me a bit more freedom to move in attack". In domestic matches, he usually operates on the left of an attacking three and has scored just six goals. "I have other duties, defensive ones and I play a little bit further from the goal," he said.
There when it counts
Europe is a different matter, however. While the 27-year-old was quiet for long stretches, he was there when it counted - the sign of a true predator. A couple of half-chances came his way with the game goalless: a tame header from a Deco cross and a snapshot at Rab Douglas. However, in the final minute of the first half, he struck. After Douglas had blocked Dmitri Alenichev's low volley, Derlei swept home the rebound at the far post.
Larsson, meanwhile, was also missing his regular partner, the injured John Hartson, playing instead with Chris Sutton. Despite a limited supply from midfield, he contributed more outside the box than Derlei, drifting wide, holding the ball up and running at defenders. On 20 minutes, he won a free-kick from Jorge Costa and took the kick himself, forcing a low save from Vítor Baía. At another point the 31-year-old collected a long punt with a Velcro first touch, cut infield, played a one-two with Sutton and then drove out right, releasing Didier Agathe whose cross Sutton just failed to meet.
At 175 centimetres, Larsson is not the tallest player yet he also showed his prowess in the air moments after the restart, outjumping Ricardo Costa at the far post to loop a superb header over Baía and in off the post. It was his 200th goal in Celtic colours. No201 followed on 57 minutes and cancelled out Alenichev's strike, another header, this time from an Alan Thompson corner.
"An absolutely world-class performance from a world-class player," was Martin O'Neill's assessment of the Swede afterwards. No team had come back twice against Porto this season - a sign of Celtic's incredible spirit - yet it would still not be enough. "
To come back twice and still lose is unbelievable," said Larsson.
Derlei, meanwhile, continued to drift in and out, yet his pace and movement meant he was always a threat. On 90 minutes he nearly won the match, turning Johan Mjällby and testing Douglas with a low shot. He was then involved in arguably the final turning point on 96 minutes. Running at the Celtic defence, he was felled by Bobo Balde and the Frenchman was shown his second yellow card of the night.
Extra man counts
Even a man down, Larsson still threatened, very nearly reaching two Shaun Maloney crosses. "I lost Jorge Costa and Costinha who are good in the air and in extra time when they put long balls into the box it was difficult for us," admitted Mourinho. However, Derlei finally made the extra man count when he latched on to a block from Douglas and fired the ball past the stranded goalkeeper and Ulrich Laursen on the line.
KEY PLAYER: Derlei
While Deco made the play for Porto, it was Derlei's goals that won the game. Mourinho, who brought him from his former club UD Leiria last summer, said: "It's his first season in European competition and I had faith in him and brought him with me to Porto.
We paid peanuts not millions and he is the best scorer of the UEFA Cup. I am very proud of him."
©UEFA.com 1998-2016. All rights reserved.