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Porto enter Champions League final
May 05, 2004 08:47 IST
Brazilian forward Derlei Silva scored a second-half penalty to send Porto into the Champions League final with a 1-0 aggregate victory over Deportivo Coruna at a rain-swept Riazor on Tuesday.
Porto, the 1987 European champions and last season's UEFA Cup winners, will take on Monaco or Chelsea in the May 26 final in Gelsenkirchen, Germany after Derlei's spot kick proved to be the only goal over the two legs.
The two sides were locked in a nervy battle when Deco Souza's sublime control took him into the penalty area and provoked a rash challenge from defender Cesar on the hour.
Derlei, recently returned from a four-month absence with a knee injury, beat goalkeeper Jose Molina with a low shot to the keeper's right to break the deadlock.
It was the first goal Deportivo had conceded at home in the Champions League for over 12 hours, a record run going back more than eight matches to November 2002.
Deportivo, who could find none of the attacking inspiration that enabled them to recover from 4-1 down to beat European champions AC Milan and reach the semi-finals, had only a couple of good chances to get back into the game.
Striker Walter Pandiani was fractionally wide with a flick header five minutes after the Porto goal and Cesar butted the ball over the bar from a corner with 20 minutes to go.
Porto's superior control on the slippery pitch kept them in command, though, and their task was helped when Deportivo defender Noureddine Naybet was sent off for a second yellow card 20 minutes from time.
Porto's place in the final was a reward for a more attacking approach in both legs of the semi-final.
The first game was a tedious affair, as Deportivo's hard-working midfield kept Porto at arm's length.
Tuesday's match followed a similar pattern at first, with Deportivo looking particularly nervous as they tried to reach a European final for the first time.
Porto were scarcely more composed, however, creating only one clear chance in the opening half, when Maniche Ribeiro drilled a shot wide after 16 minutes.
Deportivo started to find some form midway through the first half.
Pandiani's vicious shot was only just over the bar after 28 minutes and six minutes later Juan Carlos Valeron gave Porto a real let-off after the ball had broken to him in the area from a weak free kick by Albert Luque.
The Spanish international was unmarked just a few metres out but could only plant a weak shot wide of Vitor Baia's goal.
Before then, Luque's strong running down the left had looked like being Deportivo's most likely route to goal, while Deco's spark had provided Porto's best moments.
Deco came close to opening the scoring a minute after the restart.
The Brazilian-born midfielder drifted to his right a few metres outside the box and threaded in a cross for Derlei, whose low header struck the post.
That moment kick-started the game as both sides began to attack with intent.
Deportivo just managed to check Maniche's surge into the box on 50 minutes and five minutes later Luque found space on the left once again, only to see his cross cut out at the near post.
Inevitably, it was Deco who set up the Porto goal. His swaying run on the left side of the area coaxed Cesar into a challenge he had no need to make and referee Pierluigi Collina awarded the penalty.
Deportivo briefly threatened with the two headers from Pandiani and Cesar and Valeron went close with a long-range free kick.
The expected onslaught from the Spaniards never came, though, and Porto played out the final 10 minutes at a stroll.
Monaco will be favourites to join them in the final after winning the home leg against Chelsea 3-1. Their semi-final second leg takes place on Wednesday in London.