Thursday, May 22, 2003

The Bhoys

I've got an overall feeling of disappointment this morning as Celtic lost the UEFA Cup Final last night. It's not so much the fact that they lost - Porto were always expected to win - but it's the manner of the loss that's particularly grating. The referee was shockingly bad - where's Pierluigi Collina when you need him? He threw yellow cards at the barest contact, and the Porto players writhed and dived whenever a tackle went in, and the referee bought it every time. It was the worst display of sportmanship in a Cup Final I've seen in years. The sending off of Balde was particularly galling, because both tackles he got yellow cards for didn't deserve them.

When the referee wasn't prepossessed to blow his whistle, and the Porto players weren't getting grass stains on their backs to test out the kit washer's detergent, it was actually a good game, and if you have to point the finger at anyone in the Celtic team for the defeat, it's not Balde, it's Rab Douglas. Wee Rab is a typical Scottish goalkeeper - and I don't mean that in a good way. He was at fault for all three of the goals conceded, especially the second and third, though all three were cases of typically sloppy Scottish defending as a collective team.

The way Celtic responded was magnificent, though, and Henrik Larsson equalised twice with brilliant bullet headers, so you can't say that they didn't fight tooth and nail for 120 minutes - they didn't deserve to lose, and if it weren't for a couple of critical passes giving the ball away in their own half, and some woeful decision making by the officials, I'd probably have a celebratory hangover instead of a commisatory one.

All will be well, however, if Celtic can wrap up the SPL title this weekend, but it's going to be hard to pick up the players after such a disappointment, and it would be such a shame for the Buoys to finish such a promising season with absolutely nothing to show for it.

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