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Celtic boss blames below-par refereeing

Seville: Celtic boss Martin O’Neill claimed poor refereeing had robbed his side of the chance to lift the Uefa Cup.

O’Neill watched in dismay as a 125th-minute ‘silver goal’ by Brazilian striker Derlei gave Porto the title. They are also the first Portuguese club to win the Uefa Cup.

Celtic had twice come from behind to force the match into extra time but their prospects of snatching a winner were fatally undermined when Bobo Balde was ordered off four minutes into the first period.

O’Neill admitted Slovakian referee Lubos Michel had no option but to dismiss his big defender but claimed play should have been stopped just before his critical foul on Derlei.

“I think the sending off has had a very big effect on the outcome. Four seconds before Henrik Larsson had been fouled on the edge of their penalty area and the referee has waved play on.”

O’Neill must now lift his players for their final Scottish premier league game of the season on Sunday, when the title is at stake.

Mourinho hits back

Asked what he thought of O’Neill’s criticism of the referee, Porto’s coach Jose Mourinho responded with an attack on the physical approach Celtic had adopted.

“I prefer to ask if the behaviour of the Celtic players is normal in your country because what Balde did to Deco could have ended a player’s career. I don’t know if I would describe their approach as aggressive or if I should not find another, harsher, word for it.”

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