x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

Van Hooijdonk goal gives Celtic title

Celtic were the unexpected winners of the legends tournament at the first Emirates Airline Dubai Sevens last night, beating AC Milan in the final.

DUBAI // Celtic were the unexpected winners of the legends tournament at the first Emirates Airline Dubai Sevens last night, the Scots overcoming the favourites AC Milan through an extra-time "golden goal" from Pierre van Hooijdonk. Van Hooijdonk, the Dutch striker, who had given Celtic a 2-0 lead in normal time - Andy Walker having scored a close-range opener - was mobbed by his teammates after driving his spectacular clincher across the face of Simone Braglia's goal.

The Italians, selecting big names from bygone eras, had fought back well to draw level through Paolo Di Canio, the tournament's top-scorer with nine goals, and Stefano Eranio. They had looked the stronger side going into extra-time. The final was a repeat of the opening Group A match between the teams on Friday which ended 1-1. Since then the Italians have been rampant, scoring freely in sweeping aside Manchester United and Chelsea in their other group matches before outplaying Arsenal in the quarter- finals and Rangers in the semis.

Celtic had battled their way to the final and, after a Tommy Boyd goal enabled them to squeeze past the UAE's 1990 World Cup squad in the last eight, the Scots needed an extra-time "golden goal" by Gerry Britton to break the deadlock against Liverpool. The UAE made it through to the Consolation Trophy final against Arsenal, but were beaten 3-2, the Londoners scoring through Martin Hayes, Anders Limpar and Danny O'Shea against replies from the hosts through Ibraham Saad and Bakit Saad. In the Professional final between the rising stars of Leeds and Olympiakos the cup was secured for the Greeks by Georgios Niklitsiotis who scored both goals in a 2-0 win.

wjohnson@thenational.ae