Celtic in paradise after historic win

Wed, Nov 7, 2012, 00:00

Champions League round-up:Parkhead witnessed one of its greatest nights as goals from Victor Wanyama and substitute Tony Watt gave Celtic a momentous 2-1 Champions League victory over Barcelona. It was a Group G clash that the Hoops were not supposed to win but the east end of Glasgow exploded in the 21st minute when midfielder Wanyama headed in from a Charlie Mulgrew corner.

It was backs-to-the-wall stuff for most of the game for the home side as the star-studded visitors hit the woodwork twice and goalkeeper Fraser Forster pulled off a number of vital saves. But in the 83rd minute 18-year-old Watt, on for Mikael Lustig to make his debut in the competition, raced away to score the second, leaving Lionel Messi’s late strike a consolation.

Celtic, with seven points from four games, two less than leaders Barca, travel to Benfica before hosting Spartak Moscow in their final group fixture and will surely fancy their chances of reaching the knockout stages of the competition. Regardless of the Scottish champions’ progress in Europe, the night will live long in the memory of the 60,000 who made their way to Celtic Park on a sodden night.

Elsewhere in Group G, an Oscar Cardozo double after coming on as a second-half substitute helped Benfica beat Spartak Moscow 2-0 and kept alive their chances of qualification for the knockout stages.

Cardozo's header after 55 minutes from a Melgarejo cross and a volley 14 minutes later settled the matter and lifted the Portuguese side above their Russian rivals by a point to set up a second-place tussle with Celtic later this month. Cardozo also hit the bar from the penalty spot after Nicolas Pareja was shown a red card 14 minutes from time as the home side avenged their 2-1 defeat in Moscow two weeks ago.

In Group E, Victor Moses came off the bench to score an incredible last-gasp winner tonight as Chelsea somehow survived a Shakhtar Donetsk onslaught to keep their fate in their own hands with a 3-2 victory. The Blues were in danger of being the first holders to crash out of the competition before Christmas as former target Willian twice cancelled out almighty howlers from goalkeeper Andriy Pyatov which gifted goals to Fernando Torres and Oscar, the latter’s fourth in as many Champions League games.

But late substitute Moses nodded home Mata’s 94th minute corner to steal a barely-believable victory that put Chelsea level on points with their opponents at the top of Group E with two games remaining. Blues boss Roberto Di Matteo refused to shy away from the importance of tonight’s game from the moment the final whistle went in the reverse fixture — which Chelsea lost two weeks ago — branding it must-win.

Chelsea took the lead through Fernando Torres after six minutes but were second best to the Ukraine champions for long periods. Torres profited from the first of two mistakes by goalkeeper Andriy Pyatov when he charged a clearance down and the ball went straight into the net but Shakhtar were level three minutes later when Willian side-footed home from close range.

Chelsea, without the injured Ashley Cole and Frank Lampard and with John Terry on the bench, went 2-1 up five minutes from halftime when Oscar took advantage of another Pyatov error to score from long range, but the visitors were level again two minutes after the break when Willian planted the ball home after an excellent Shakhtar build-up.

Pyatov almost gifted Oscar another clearance and Tomas Hubschman brought down Torres for a free-kick which John Obi Mikel powered home from Mata’s cross. But the midfielder was rightly denied his first goal for five years by an offside flag. Chelsea, who were now on top, had genuine cause for complaint 16 minutes from time when a flying Ramires was convinced he had been bundled over in the box by Srna but referee Carlos Velasco Carballo was unmoved.

Teixeira was replaced by Ilsinho before Oscar was denied by a desperate Rat tackle and Mikel volleyed Pyatov’s punch narrowly wide. Moses came on for Oscar and Willian cleared Gary Cahill’s dangerous header as Chelsea poured forward but they were almost caught out on the break, leading Luiz was booking late on and nearly a winner for Henrik Mkhitaryan.

But in the 94th minute, Chelsea won a corner which an unmarked Moses nodded in seconds before the final whistle.

Late goals from substitute Robin Van Persie, Wayne Rooney and Javier Hernandez earned Manchester United a place in the last 16 with a 3-1 comeback win at Braga. In a match interrupted for 10 minutes by floodlight failure, the hosts went ahead early in the second half through an Alan penalty kick.

United struck back when Van Persie came off the bench and punished a blunder by Braga keeper Beto, who inexplicably rushed out of his goal and was caught in no man's land. Rooney put United ahead from the penalty spot soon after and, with Braga in disarray, Hernandez made it 3-1 in injury time after a goal-mouth muddle.

Group H leaders United have 12 points from four games. Cluj and Galatasaray are on four points, with Braga on three.

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