Boavista FC's Ricardo was happy to draw Celtic FC in the UEFA Cup semi-final as he hopes for an all-Portuguese final.
Neighbours kept apart
No Portuguese side has ever won the UEFA Cup but neighbours Boavista and FC Porto could yet contest the final after today's draw in Nyon, Switzerland kept them apart. While Boavista face Celtic, Porto will meet S.S. Lazio.
Prestige for Porto
"I am glad we avoided Porto," said Ricardo, the Portugal goalkeeper who scored a penalty in last night's shoot-out defeat of Málaga CF. "It would be great for many reasons if the final was between two Portuguese teams." Boavista director Paulo Gonçalves echoed Ricardo when he said it "would be very prestigious for both the country and especially for the city of Porto".
'Very difficult tie'
The semi-final ties will be played on 10 and 24 April with Celtic and Porto at home in the first legs. According to Ricardo, this is a "good sign" for Boavista who have come back after first-leg away defeats four times in this season's competition. Not that he is expecting anything but "a very difficult tie" and warned "it will demand plenty of character".
John Hartson, scorer of Celtic's second goal in their 2-0 win at Liverpool FC, was equally satisfied. "I hope we can now go to the final," he said. "I think the draw we all wanted was Boavista at home. I am particularly pleased to have a home draw first as it's been good to us all the way through and hopefully that will be a good omen for us."
Lazio's Portuguese international Fernando Couto was less than pleased with his side's draw against his former club Porto. The central defender said: "I would have preferred to have met them in the final. They are a very strong team with great individual players. I have a strong affection for them - they launched me into football's highest sphere. It will be a difficult match, we have a 50 per cent chance of reaching the final."
Lazio's coach, Roberto Mancini, said: "Porto are difficult opponents but this is normal - the semi-finals of the UEFA Cup are very competitive. It will be a hard match, they are top of the Portuguese league and this says everything about their strength."
'Lazio are a tough team'
Antero Henrique, Porto's communications and public relations director, said: "As everybody knows, Lazio are a very tough team, who play in one of the most competitive domestic leagues in the world. However, Porto have done very well to reach this stage and we will naturally hope for the best."