Irish Blog Whacked

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Glasgow Celtic past Spartak Moscow into last 16 of Champions League Hail Hail

Lennon steps out of O’Neills Shadow

by JasCam

Tonight Neil Lennon steped out of his mentor Martin O'Neill's shadow by taking his young Celtic Team through to the last 16 of the Champions league. Goal's from Hooper and Commons sealed a 2-1 which put's this team up with the best.
Officially we are one of the top 16 in Europe and Scottish Champions
It does not get better than this
Short blog because I'm shaking like a leaf

UPDATE: What an evening at Parkhead. No sooner had we uploaded Gary Hooper’s opener against Spartak Moscow earlier than Ari had levelled and threatened to spoil the party.
An anxious second half ensued and while the penalty was soft for a foul on Samaras, contact was made and the penalty was awarded.
Neil Lennon could not bring himself to look but Kris Commons chose the perfect time to open his Champions League account and send Celtic into the last 16.
After Beating Moscow home and away as well as Barcelona at home, it was no more than the Bhoys deserved.

Celtic2 by SpheraChannel

Celtic by SpheraChannel

UEFA Champions League Table Group G

Team StatisticsPositionTeamPHome WDLFAAway WDLFAGDPtsLast 10 gamesresultsMatchStatus

No movement1Barcelona62105320162613
  1. Win
  2. Win
  3. Win
  4. Loss
  5. Win
  6. Draw
Reportof Barcelona's last match
Moving up2Celtic62104210256110
  1. Draw
  2. Win
  3. Loss
  4. Win
  5. Loss
  6. Win

of Celtic's last match
Moving down3Benfica6201430211208
  1. Draw
  2. Loss
  3. Loss
  4. Win
  5. Win
  6. Draw

of Benfica's last match
No movement4Spartak Moscow61024700337-73
  1. Loss
  2. Loss
  3. Win
  4. Loss
  5. Loss
  6. Loss

GOAL!! 82 min Celtic 2 Moscow 1
Commons with nerves of steel. Straight down the middle high and firm and in off the underside of the crossbar. Cue the noise...

GOAL!! 21 min Celtic 1 Moscow 0
Insaurralde gift wraps an early Christmas present for Celtic with a fluffed clearance that Hooper pounced on like a flash. A fine finish still required and delivered. Celtic Park rocking.

FT Celtic 2 Spartak Moscow 1
FT WRAP It was tense, it was scrappy at times, much of the time, but Celtic stood up when it counted, and Samaras fell down when it mattered, too, 'earning' the penalty that was emphatically converted by Commons at a time when the nerves were jangling in the green half of Glasgow. For guts and effort and application Celtic edged it. Spartak showed touches of class going forward, and a commendable level of effort in the opening exchanges. But showed enough, too, to understand why they are struggling in their own league.
90+5 min The sweetest sound heard in Parkhead all night - the final whistle. Celtic are through to the knock-out stages of this year's Champions League. And deserve it, too. London Calling on the PA system as the players celebrate. A tad optimistic but who would deny them the indulgence of getting a touch carried away.
90+4 min All over in Barcelona where it finished 0-0. This result is enough for Celtic. One more minute...
90+3 min "There's only one Neil Lennon," reverberates around the place. Celtic run down the clock arsing about at a corner. Free kick earned after the Spartak players get the hump. Will all do very nicely. Samaras crosses for the goalkeeper to gather and launch an attack but it's short lived and Celtic get on the ball again through Samaras. He has his critics but he is pretty tidy at holding the ball and drawing a foul when needed.

Kris Commons penalty propels Celtic past Spartak Moscow into last 16

Champions League

Celtic 2
  • Hooper 21, 
  • Commons (pen) 82
Spartak Moscow 1
  • Ari 39
Kris Commons celebrates scoring
Kris Commons, left, celebrates scoring Celtic's second goal in their Champions League match against Spartak Moscow. Photograph: Carl Recine/Action Images
Celtic's progress has now been endorsed by material reward. On a nervous night in Glasgow, during which the football was rarely pretty, Neil Lennon was afforded the finest triumph of his managerial career to date. Celtic were generally unfancied at the start of Group G but this win catapulted them into the Champions League's knock-out stages. Few could quibble over them deserving that place.
Kris Commons was the Celtic hero here, with a penalty which saw offSpartak Moscow. That Spartak were probably worthy of a draw, and enjoyed more possession than their hosts for long spells, is totally irrelevant. Celtic's qualification is worthy of immense credit.
The win for Lennon's team ensured 10 points from a Champions League group for the first time in Celtic's history. It also, crucially, bettered Benfica's scoreless draw in Barcelona.
Before kick-off, Celtic's anxiety could more reasonably have stemmed from Catalonia rather than Glasgow as Barcelona's team for the visit of Benfica was noticeably under strength. Lionel Messi was among Tito Vilanova's substitutes but Andrés Iniesta, Xavi Hernández, Cesc Fábregas, Javier Mascherano and Jordi Alba were absent altogether.
Such a selection, of course, was Vilanova's prerogative given Barça's secured progression to the last 16. Any concept of "reserves" must also recognise Barcelona's status and strength in depth.
Lennon had been adamant, publicly and in private, that events at the Camp Nou would not play on his mind. Celtic's task was simple: to pick up where they left off when Barcelona were conquered on a memorable occasion here last month. Lennon had to do without the influential Victor Wanyama, who was suspended, but was otherwise untroubled by issues of selection.
Of more concern to Celtic's manager would have been the edgy start of his team, which was in tune with the stadium atmosphere. Spartak, who had nothing other than pride to play for amid a fruitless group campaign, used that spell to display the kind of fluency which contradicted the theory they are a club in turmoil.
Still, it took 16 minutes for a goal threat of any kind. It arrived from the Russians, as Kim Kallstrom played a fine one-two with Artem Dzyuba before curling a 20-yard effort narrowly wide.
Spartak's blunder in affording Celtic the opening goal was therefore a surprise. Georgios Samaras played a hopeful ball forward, which Juan Insaurralde should easily have cut out. Instead, the Argentine woefully miscued his clearance straight to the feet of Gary Hooper and the striker lashed a low shot beyond Sergei Pesyakov.
Such clinical finishing has been an admirable trait during Celtic's European run. Heading into this game, they had a higher percentage of Champions League goals from shots on target than both Real Madrid and Barcelona. Hooper merely endorsed that statistic.
Spartak's response was admirable, given their circumstances. The impressive Emmanuel Emenike shrugged off the attentions of Beram Kayal before playing in Ari, who offered a deft chip over the onrushing Fraser Forster. Kelvin Wilson's despairing goalline header could only help the ball into the net.
Celtic's start to the second half was brighter than it had been in the first. Their captain, Scott Brown, miscued a decent opportunity from inside the Spartak penalty area before Samaras struck the outside of a post with a close-range volley.
That effort was immediately followed by a first, inaccurate ripple of news throughout Celtic Park suggesting that Barcelona had taken the lead. The danger attached to that was that the Celtic players could take heed of misinformation and temper their now brisk play.
Spartak sought to regain some impetus by introducing Aiden McGeady, a player once of this manor. The midfielder, a purchase from Celtic two years ago, would surely have started but for a knee problem. McGeady's guile was also the very commodity Celtic were in desperate need of with half an hour to play.
Charlie Mulgrew came within an acrobatic Pesyakov save of sending Celtic back in front. Commons had been the creator with a corner. A set-piece looked like Celtic's best hope of a winner. And so it proved.
Samaras tumbled under a challenge from Marek Suchy, in winning what was a soft penalty. Celtic had no reason to care about that, with Commons displaying wonderful nerve to blast home the spot-kick via the crossbar.
Kallstrom displayed Spartak frustration with a boot at Commons, which resulted in a red card for the Swedish midfielder. Commons departed the field on a stretcher but he soon returned to join his team-mates in epic celebration. How Celtic had earned it.

Spank Spartak For The Faithful…..
Before a ball was kicked in this seasons Champions League, many outside the club had the Bhoys down as cannon fodder no matter what group we would be drawn in. And when the draw was made who can forget the ‘bye, bye Celtic’ tweet from the imbeciles down at ITV?
As the team drawn from Pot Four we were always going to up against it. So when Celtic followed Barcelona, Benfica and then Spartak Moscow  out the hat we knew any chance of progress would be difficult.
But that didn’t deter the manager or the team.
We knew we would have to do at least one thing we hadn’t managed before this campaign….win away from home in the group stages.
After a goalless draw at home to Benfica in our opening match we found ourselves in a position we didn’t want to be in. We HAD to win in Moscow if we were to harbour any ambitions of staying in Europe beyond Christmas.
Having won away in Finland and Sweden in our qualifying gave the Bhoys a belief that we could do it in Russia. And we did. Goals from Hooper, Forrest and a last minute header from our European talisman Samaras gave Celtic a memorable 3-2 win in Moscow.
That result lifted the whole club. Suddenly, we did have a chance, albeit a slim one of taking something from this group. However there was one small problem going forward…..Barcelona!
Our next fixture was in against the Catalans, in the Camp Nou.
Little did we know that Lenny’s troops would give such a spirited performance. Only this time lady luck was against us. Instead of scoring a last minute winner, we lost a goal in injury time to go down 2-1, after leading Barca 1-0, again thanks to Samaras.
So, at the half way stage we were sitting with four points from three games. Not to shabby given our opening score.
With renewed confidence Celtic entertained Barcelona the same week as the club celebrated our 125th birthday. Could we possibly beat the best team in the world, Messi and all, at Celtic Park? What a present THAT would be!
As they say, anythings possible in football. Especially where Celtic are concerned.
A Fraser Forster super show inspired the Bhoys to a 2-1 victory on the most memorable European night in Paradise. Victor Wanyama, a player who’s been immense in the Champions League opened the scoring before 18 year old substitute Tony Watt put the Hoops 2-0 up with minutes to go. (long enough for Messi to pull one back)
Who would have believed it? Second in the group with two games to go.
But Celtic don’t do easy. A 2-0 reverse in Lisbon to a rejuvenated Benfica side now means the Hoops need to better the Portuguese score in Barcelona this evening.
If anyone had asked us at the beginning of the campaign would we be happy playing in the Europa league in the new year we all would have been delighted. So to be in with the chance of a place in the last 16 is unbelievable.
I’m sure Lenny and the Bhoys will give their all tonight against the Russians. Win, lose or draw, Celtic have given us another memorable European campaign.
C’mon You Bhoys In Green!