Celtic are through to the Last 16 of the Champions League for only the third time in their history.
They edged out Benfica to take second place in Group G on a nervy evening at Celtic Park, and for the majority of the second half it looked like they may not make it.
Gary Hooper put the hosts into an early lead after twenty minutes and with Benfica drawing with Barcelona, that would have been enough to see the Hoops through. Ferreira Ari chipped over Forster however five minutes before the interval to bring the scores level. With Braga still drawing at half time, it looked as though Celtic may crash into the Europa League, and Neil Lennon’s men kept their fans on the very edge of their seats going into the final ten minutes of the game.
With time running out, Marek Suchy upended Georgios Samaras and Referee Felix Brych pointed to the spot. Kris Commons stepped up to smash his effort in off the bar for 2-1, and with Celic Park erupting into raptures, Kim Kallstrom was awarded a second yellow card as Moscow ended the game with ten men, to give the hosts a little more breathing space.
They held on, though, and are now into the Last 16 of the Champions League for the third time.
It was a victory that capped off a fairly impressive campaign in the Group Stages for Celtic, who previously recorded that famous win over Spanish Giants Barcelona on 7th November. Few had expected them to navigate the Group Stages, but they now join Manchester United and Arsenal as the only three British teams remaining in the competition.
Celtic could face Manchester United, PSG, Schalke, Malaga, Borussia Dortumand, Juventus or Bayern Munich in the next round, quite who they get probably doesn’t mean a great deal to them right now though, as their fairy-tale in Europe continues into another chapter.
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This article was first posted on December 5, 2012