Rabu, 05 Desember 2012

Celtic 2-1 Spartak Moscow: Hooper and Commons seal the deal for Lennons Bhoys

CL - Celtic v FC Spartak Moscow, Gary Hooper
Celtic advanced to the knockout stages of the Champions League for first time since 2008 after a nervous win over Spartak Moscow at Celtic Park.

A first-half strike from Gary Hooper was cancelled out by Ari just before the break, but a second-half Kris Commons penalty secured the win after a tense night of football in Glasgow.

The opening stages of the game were tetchy and evenly contested, with neither side establishing much of a stronghold on the contest or creating many clear chances, until Spartak midfielder Kim Kallstrom played a neat one-two on the edge of the area, before placing his left-footed shot narrowly wide of Fraser Forsters post.

With Brazilian striker Emmanuel Emenike looking lively for the Russian side, it looked like Celtic would be set for a difficult night, however not for the first time in this seasons competition, they showed their clinical side.

Greek striker Georgios Samaras picked up the ball on the halfway line and weaved past several Moscow players before launching a long ball upfield which was miscontrolled by defender Juan Insaurralde allowing Hooper to lash the ball first time past the helpless goalkeeper.

Celtic had a few more half chances as the first-half wore on, but allowed their opponents to come back into the contest and when the equaliser eventually came, it wasn't against the run of play.

The eye-catching Emenike was once again at the centre of the action as he shrugged off a challenge in central midfield and drove forward before feeding Ari on the right side of the box, the Brazilian nonchalantly chipped the ball over Forster to equalise.

That was the last major drama of the first-half, but five minutes into the second period Celtic came within a whisker of going back in front when right-back Mikael Lustig put in a decent cross for Samaras but his shot cannoned off the post with Spartak g oalkeeper Sergei Pesyakov well beaten.

That looked like being the best chance they were going to have, however, with the home side mindful not to get carried away chasing the game, wise in the knowledge that losing the game would certainly put them out of the tournament.

Lennon threw some caution to the wind in the later stages as he brought more attacking players into the fray, and they nearly got the goal they needed when headed at goal from a corner only for Pesyakov to react well to tip the ball over.

The breakthrough eventually came on 80 minutes when Samaras went down in the box under very minimal pressure to win a penalty. Commons stepped up and thumped the ball in via the underside of the crossbar to secure the victory, and ensure Celtics safe passage into the knockout stages.

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