The Estadio Olímpico de Sevilla witnessed an exhilarating clash on 21 May 2003 as Celtic of Scotland and Porto of Portugal competed for the prestigious 2003 UEFA Cup title. In a gripping encounter that kept fans on the edge of their seats, Porto emerged victorious with a 3-2 win in extra time, thanks to a decisive goal from Derlei. Notably, this game marked the introduction of the silver goal rule, although it didn’t influence the ultimate outcome as Porto secured their victory in the second half of extra time, compelling the match to be played until the end of the extra time period.
The final held immense significance as it marked the first time that a club from either Scotland or Portugal had clinched the UEFA Cup. The matchup was also characterized by an extraordinary display of support, with approximately 80,000 passionate Celtic fans, affectionately known as “the Bhoys from Seville,” making the journey to Seville for the final. The remarkable conduct and unwavering enthusiasm of the Celtic supporters were lauded by FIFA and UEFA, leading to the team receiving the FIFA Fair Play Award that year and a formal recognition from UEFA at a subsequent home match the following season.
The intense clash began with an early yellow card for Joos Valgaeren of Celtic, setting the tone for an enthralling back-and-forth battle between the two sides. Amidst several close attempts from both teams, Porto managed to take the lead just before half-time, with Derlei finding the net after a series of skillful maneuvers from Deco and Dmitri Alenichev.
Celtic, known for their resilience, quickly equalized through Henrik Larsson’s impressive header, only for Porto to retaliate with another goal from Alenichev. Larsson once again rose to the occasion, delivering a powerful header to draw Celtic level. The relentless efforts from both sides continued throughout regular time, leading to a 2-2 scoreline that carried the game into extra time, governed by the silver goal rule.
The momentum shifted in Porto’s favor during the second half of extra time as Derlei capitalized on a rebound, securing the much-needed goal that ultimately secured their victory. Despite a late dismissal for Nuno Valente, Porto celebrated the end of their 16-year wait for another European trophy, sealing a memorable triumph in the 2003 UEFA Cup final.