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  • Henrik's cup final brace marked his last competitive dance

    Henrik's cup final brace marked his last competitive dance

    By: Joe Donnelly on 22 May, 2020 17:07

  • HENRIK Larsson’s final match for Celtic was a seven-year testimonial friendly at Paradise against Sevilla on May 25, 2004 – but his final competitive outing took place four days earlier, on this day 16 years ago. Fittingly, it was a cup final at Hampden. More suitably still, the King of Kings bagged a brace.

    That afternoon, Martin O’Neill’s men overcame Dunfermline 3-1 in the ultimate stage of the 2003/04 Scottish Cup campaign, with Stiliyan Petrov sinking the other.

    One year and one day after the newly-crowned double champions had dealt with the disappointment of second-place in the UEFA Cup final 2003, this final was never in doubt, despite a battling Dunfermline taking the lead before the break.

    On 58 minutes, Larsson drew level when he pounced on a defensive error, drove forward and fired home across the keeper. A typically dynamite turn inside the box 14 minutes later was capped off by a similar cross-goal finish, as the Swedish forward netted his 242nd goal in green.

    With six minutes of normal time remaining, Petrov got in on the act when he skipped past his man before slotting the ball into the net to kick-start the party.

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    "Henrik was terrific for us once again and, no, I doubt if he could have imagined ending things so perfectly," O'Neill told the Celtic View, speaking of the departing hero. "To score the goals which won us the cup after also getting a couple of late goals in his final competitive game at Celtic Park was pretty special, and typical of the man, I suppose.

    "It was certainly a cup final to remember from his point of view, and we're all delighted for him. Now we have to get on with life without him and let him go and live his life wherever he chooses. He's been a magnificent player for this club - a great servant and a terrific professional - and we all wish him the very best of luck."

    Cup final goalscorer Petrov added: “I am just delighted that Henrik got the chance to leave on the back of such a great game and a great performance at Hampden. It was a fantastic way to finish his competitive Celtic career and the fact that we have won both the Championship and the Scottish Cup is a great way for him to finish off. His goals in the second half were excellent and it was a great game to finish off what has been a great season for us.

    "I know the fans would have loved it on Saturday when Henrik got the goals and we are all delighted that he left on such a high. I know that Henrik will miss all of that when he goes but it really was a good performance.

    "It was hard for all of us to say goodbye to Henrik and I know that he is sad to leave all of this behind but we have to respect his choice. It goes without saying that he leaves with the best wishes of everyone at the club and it has been great to play alongside him."

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