Oporto explodes with joy

OPORTO exploded with joy and popping champagne corks to celebrate Porto's dramatic 3-2 victory over Glasgow's Celtic in Seville to win the UEFA Cup for the first time in history.

Screaming fans, many with faces painted in the blue and white of their beloved Dragons, jammed the central Humberto Delgado Plaza, the customary site to celebrate Porto's wins.

An enormous caravan of cars packed with cheering fans waving the green, yellow and red Portuguese flag and Porto banners snaked through the downtown streets of the industrial capital.

"We knew we were going to win!" an overjoyed Porto supporter, Manuel Torres Iglesias, said as he rushed with friends to join the cheering crowd. Chants of "We're the champions!" and "Porto is the nation!" thundered through the warm spring night. Many fans vowed to stay up all night to welcome back Porto from Spain.

"We suffered a lot, it was a great game that Porto deserved to win," another fan told state TV. Derlei Silva's second goal of the night five minutes from the end of extra time secured the win over Celtic, who twice came from behind to leave the score at 2-2 by the end of normal time. Russian Alenichev was Porto's other scorer.

"Porto deserve the admiration of all Portugal," another young Porto fan said in a TV interview.

"I'm not going to bed tonight. After I go to the airport, I'm going to take a bath and then go right to the factory where I work."

The joy spread to Lisbon, where fans of the capital's clubs put aside their long-standing rivalry with Porto to revel in the Portuguese side's success.

Hundreds of honking cars with fans waving Porto banners jammed the central Marques de Pombal Plaza. Streets in the nightclub district on the banks of the Tejo River were alive with revellers.

"It's been a long time since I suffered so much", Prime Minister Jose Manuel Durao Barroso told the Lusa news agency in Seville, where he watched the game next to President Jorge Sampaio.

Reflecting the almost unbearable tension in Seville, Porto Chairman Jorge Nuno Pinto told Lusa he had felt a sharp pain in his chest near the end of the game and had needed medical attention.

"I've recovered to celebrate the win," he said.