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Friday, May 20, 2011

Porto captures Europa League title


DUBLIN — Porto proved it doesn't need Jose Mourinho to produce something special.

News photo
Reason to celebrate: Porto's Radamel Falcao holds the Europa League Cup after his side's 1-0 victory over Braga in the final on Wednesday night in Dublin. Porto won 1-0. AP PHOTO

Eight years after Mourinho led Porto to the 2003 UEFA Cup title, another young Portuguese coach helped the club to victory in the same tournament that helped launch the Special One.

Radamel Falcao scored in the 44th minute, giving Porto and 33-year-old coach Andre Villas-Boas a 1-0 victory over Braga on Wednesday night in an all-Portuguese final of the Europa League.

"You can dream about goals, and we dreamed the most about winning this tournament," Villas-Boas said. "I believe we always felt obliged to win the Europa League. We sort of felt we owed it to ourselves."

After winning the 2003 UEFA Cup, Mourinho led Porto to the title in the 2004 Champions League, Europe's top club tournament. He went on to win the English Premier League with Chelsea in 2005 and 2006, then won consecutive Serie A titles with Inter Milan 2009 and 2010. He also led Inter to the 2010 Champions League title before switching to Real Madrid.

In winning the continent's No. 2 club competition, which was renamed last season, Villas-Boas became the youngest coach with a European title. In his first season at Porto, he has downplayed comparisons to Mourinho and said he wasn't the key factor in the club's success.

"I'm just a gear in a very effective club, with super talents. That's the reality," Villas-Boas said. "Players are decisive in the game of football."

Having gone into coaching as a teenager, Villas-Boas said he doesn't plan to emulate figures such as Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson by remaining on the sidelines for decades.

"I hope to have a very short career," he said with a laugh, adding that he only expects to stay at the top level for about another decade.

"It's very stressful." he said. "I have ambition to leave a mark on the game, and I have an ambition to win much more, don't get me wrong. . . . I am ambitious, and the people around me are ambitious. But everyone has their own prospects."

Falcao played little part in the match before breaking away from his marker to score, heading a perfect cross from Fred Guarin into the top corner.

"The big secret of this team is that we're a big family, a family that gets on well," Falcao said. "We're a very humble team. . . . We always play for the good of the entire team, and when we play like that, each player will give his best."

Porto also won this season's Portuguese League title with a 30-0-3 record. It will try to complete a treble when it plays Guimaraes in Sunday's Portuguese Cup final.

"There's only one trophy missing, which is the Portuguese Cup," Villas-Boas said. "I do hope my team can win another trophy."

Substitute Mossoro nearly scored for Braga one minute into the second half but his low shot was saved by Helton.

Braga was playing in its first major European final after ousting another Portuguese power, Benfica, in the semifinals.

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