Twenty years ago this very day we made history as we beat Portuguese side Boavista in Porto to reach the Uefa Cup Final, and what a night it was. Every Celtic supporter whether they were at the game or back home watching on television or even listening to the wireless, will never forget the emotions they went through when that final whistle sounded.
We had reached a major European final for the first time in 33 years, many of us had never experienced such a feat before, it was history in the making.
It didn’t look good after we drew the first leg 1-1, and with the Portuguese side having the advantage of the away goal, they were in the ascendancy. They set up to frustrate us and hold out for a goalless draw. Their tactics were dire, defend and time waste, lots of it. Even the ball boys were instructed to hold on to the ball as long as they could. It looked like working for the majority of the night and the As Panteras looked favourites to be heading to Seville to face city rivals Porto in the final.
20 years ago today, Celtic beat Boavista 1:0 away to reach the Uefa Cup Final.
Larsson with the winner. pic.twitter.com/nLUpdxZGIU
— Li’l Ze (@LilZe_7) April 23, 2023
But that man Henrik larsson (who else?) had other ideas and the king of kings scored one of his most important goals for the club. In the 78th minute Henrik pounced to grab us a vital goal. The Celtic supporters went mental in the Estadio do Bessa stadium, at home they went ballistic, celebrating in homes, workplaces and pubs throughout the country and the world. It wasn’t henrik’s most memorable goal, it was more of a scuffed shot, but they all count. It didn’t matter how it went in. We had the goal we craved.
The next fifteen minutes or so dragged in, it felt like an eternity. Boavista had suddenly remembered they could advance over the halfway line and they were doing it in numbers. The ball boys were now throwing the ball on as if it was a hot potato.
Our hearts were racing and we were biting our nails as the clock ticked down, with the Portuguese side throwing everything they had looking for an equaliser. Celtic players were working as equally hard doing everything to stop them. They wanted to reach the final as much as the supporters. It was intense and we just wanted that final whistle to go.
When it did finally sound we celebrated like we hadn’t done in a while, maybe since that nervy day in May 1998 against St Johnstone when we stopped the dreaded ten. It was a monumental achievement and we partied into the small hours and beyond, and rightly so, we had just witnessed a bit of history.
JustAnOrdinaryBhoy – follow on Twitter @ordinarybhoy