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FOOTBALL: I had to send off Bobo but it lost Celts game.

Byline: HUGH KEEVINS

THE Slovakian referee who sent off Bobo Balde on Wednesday night has admitted he cost Celtic the UEFA Cup Final against Porto.

Lubos Michel's first European final ended in anger over Balde's red card and the referee's refusal to stamp out the Portuguese side's cynical time-wasting tactics.

But Michel defended his decision to dismiss the giant defender and leave Celtic down to 10 men in extra time.

He said: "In extra time a lot of emotions came into play. Fouls were multiplying, so I had to hand out punishments.

"Celtic were the stronger of the two teams and I thought they would make use of this during extra time. But Balde's sending- off played into their opponents' hands.

Michel also denied he had been lenient when overlooking the suspect antics of the Porto players in general and keeper Vitor Baia in particular.

Baia fell to the ground late on feigning injury as Celtic chased an equaliser that could have gained a penalty shoot-out.

Michel added: "I couldn't have let them carry Baia off the pitch. When he asks to be treated I have to accept it.

"The UEFA delegate Michel Vautrot praised us for having the courage to add on another four minutes.

"There's nothing that can be done. It's part of the tactics a team that's ahead uses.

"The Portuguese were sometimes rolling around on the ground after fouls to try to waste time, which got on the nerves of the Scottish team."

Celtic's frustrations blew up at half-time and there was a skirmish involving players, managers and officials of both clubs.

Michel said: "I was worried this irritation was going to influence the second half. But Henrik Larsson equalised and both teams started to give more attention to football again."
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:May 24, 2003
Words:295
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