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Henrik Larsson poster . Giant poster of the Celtic and Sweden striker . 36 by 24 inch glossy poster , 170 gsm art paper . Price £5.99 / $8.99 Buy one now


GOOD THINGS come to those who wait. Henrik Larsson was rewarded last night in the Estadio do Bessa for his patience with the priceless goal that took Celtic into their first European final in 33 years.With the clock ticking away on the dream of reaching the Uefa Cup final, Larsson struck in the 78th minute to take Martin O'Neill's side into dreamland. FC Porto await them in Seville on May 21.

The prolific striker worked tirelessly on what was a frustrating evening. Boavista had tried from the outset to play for the goalless draw in the second leg of the semi-final that would have seen them progress on the back of their 1-1 draw in Glasgow a fortnight ago.

Once Larsson, who missed a penalty in the first leg, had struck his tenth goal in this remarkable European campaign, the Portuguese side were incapable of changing their philosophy and time became their enemy. Celtic eventually returned onto the pitch to the acclaim of their joyous 3,000 fans.

All day, the city of Oporto had echoed to various songs from supporters. Celtic fans mixed with those of Boavista, as well as their local rivals, FC Porto, whose match with Lazio in Rome has monopolised media attention in Portugal. Boavista had almost been relegated to a sideshow on the most notable occasion in their history. Though they won the Portuguese league in 2000 and reached the second phase of the Champions League last season, their first-ever European semi-final held the tantalising prospect of replaying their local derby in Seville in the guise of a Uefa Cup final.

The stage itself did not seem in keeping with such an occasion. The Estadio do Bessa is being redeveloped for Euro 2004, which meant that the ends behind both goals were empty, save for the giant cranes that are helping in the construction of new stands.

Little more than 12,000 spectators were housed in stands on opposite touchlines, but that did not prevent both bands of fans from providing a raucous backdrop. This was Boavista's hundredth game in European competition and, ironically, Celtic were the team that ended that inaugural campaign, eliminating them from the Cup Winners Cup in 1975.

It was a comforting omen for O'Neill's team to take onto the pitch. However, this Celtic rely on their own prowess, rather than history. The Celtic manager opted to keep the same side that won at Anfield, which meant that Chris Sutton was not risked after his recovery from a broken wrist and was left on the bench.  

Celtic were looking for an early goal to regain command of the tie and managed to construct a period of heavy pressure in the opening ten minutes, with both Larsson and John Hartson getting in behind the Boavista defence on several occasions, only for the final ball to deny their clever movement.  

Larsson was eventually given a clear glimpse of goal when Alan Thompson's free-kick from the halfway line was flicked on by Hartson into his partner's path. The Swede had eluded his marker, Eder, but stabbed his right-foot shot wide of the target.  Larsson was struggling to shake off his shadow while Hartson was also being suffocated by the incessant body-checking and holding employed by Pedrosa.  

Boavista barely summoned up an attack in the first half hour &emdash; the only shot that came within range of Robert Douglas was a 35-yard free-kick from Pedrosa that sailed high over the goalkeeper's crossbar.   Celtic needed a telling presence in midfield and O'Neill was forced to reshape things, albeit inadvertently, when Paul Lambert was forced to limp off after 34 minutes, allowing Sutton to take up the role behind the front two.

However, the Scottish champions had to survive a scare just a minute before half-time. Martelinho's burst down the inside-right position saw him skip past Bobo Balde and reach the byline. His cross was met by the run of Duda, but the alert Douglas was equal to the striker's glancing header.Confidence was growing visibly among the home support and the public address system boasted that Boavista were "just 45 minutes away from the final in Seville" as the Celtic players returned to the pitch for the second half. Boavista were still content to soak up the pressure, inviting Celtic into their territory. It almost proved costly when Hartson went on a forceful run before feeding a diagonal ball that was about to reach Joos Valgaeren on the edge of the box. However, Pedrosa's sliding tackle nipped the ball out of harm's way.

Celtic's urgent desire for a goal almost proved their undoing shortly before the hour. A searching pass from Avalos released Duda down the right touchline, escaping from Valgaeren. The forward's cross was too deep for the covering Johan Mjallby and a seemingly certain goal beckoned for Pedro Santos. Douglas, however, got a vital touch to divert th Celtic had approached the point where they had to gamble. O'Neill removed Valgaeren at favour of Jamie Smith in the hope that the pacy forward could open up Boavista.The goal that Celtic craved arrived with just 12 minutes left. Sutton supplied Larsson, who galloped into the first chink of open space he had been granted all evening. The striker's first attempt was blocked by Pedrosa, but he stabbed the rebound past Ricardo to an explosion of noise from the travelling fans.

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