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Celtic 2-1 Spartak Moscow: Kris Commons spot kick sees Celts into last 16

Goals from Gary Hooper and Commons put Neil Lennon's men through on a night of drama at Celtic Park.

Kris Commons and Charlie Mulgrew, Celtic 2-1 Spartak Moscow, December 2012.
© SNS Group

Celtic will compete in the Champions League knock-out phases after their 2-1 victory over Spartak Moscow was enough to clinch second place in Group G.

Neil Lennon’s men bettered Benfica’s 0-0 draw in Barcelona to progress after a Kris Commons penalty settled the game in Glasgow.

Gary Hooper had earlier given Celtic the lead before Ari levelled for the Russians.

But when Georgios Samaras won a soft penalty award with nine minutes to play, Commons belted the spot kick in off the bar to cue wild celebrations at Celtic Park.

The Celts, who had Victor Wanyama unavailable through suspension, started with Biram Kayal in the centre of midfield alongside captain Scott Brown while Hooper was partnered up front by Samaras.

Spartak Moscow left former Celtic Park star Aiden McGeady on the bench, the wing man having recently returned from injury.

It was the hosts who were in the ascendancy early, with Samaras getting a head to a Mikael Lustig cross but unable to find Hooper after 11 minutes.

Kirill Kombarov gave Celtic a scare a minute later when he left Kris Commons for dead on the left and centred a fizzing low cross. Kelvin Wilson managed to block it clear with Emmanual Emenike lurking.

Kim Kallstrom then went close with a left foot effort after a one-two with Artem Dzuba.

Celtic got the breakthrough to relieve the tension in the stadium after 21 minutes.

Hesitation in the Spartak defence allowed Hooper to bear down on Sergei Pesyakov before unleashing an unstoppable low drive into the bottom right hand corner of the net.

Emenike was causing the defence issues and his dangerous running led to Spartak’s equaliser five minutes before the break.

The striker drew three Celtic defenders to him before releasing Ari in the box. With Izaguirre behind him, the Brazilian clipped the ball over Forster and into the net, despite the best attentions of Efe Ambrose.

Knowing Benfica were goalless with Barcelona in the Camp Nou, Celtic had to find a victory and they began the second half with pace and purpose.

The longer the game drew on however, the longer Spartak grew in confidence. The Russian side held possession and frustrated Lennon’s team.

The Celtic boss threw on Lassad Nouioui to stretch the game in a 4-3-3 formation but still Spartak stood firm.

Charlie Mulgrew thought he had broken through with 12 minutes left when he headed a Commons corner into the ground and up towards the top corner of the net.

Pesyakov produced a fine save to tip the ball over the bar and keep Celtic at bay.

The Hoops got their break three minutes later with Samaras the hero. The Greek chested a cross down and weaved past the defender inside the box.

As he passed Marek Suchy he trailed a leg and went down. The contact was minimal but enough for the German referee to be satisfied and point to the spot.

Commons took responsibility and blasted the ball off the underside of the ball and into the turf on the other side of the goal-line.

The Scotland midfielder was stretchered off injured before the end of play, as Swedish star Kim Kallstrom earned a straight red card for a vicious challenge on the match winner.

With five minutes of injury time to contend with, Samaras and Lassad kept the ball in Spartak territory and saw the game out.

As news filtered through of Benfica’s failure to win against a shadow Barcelona team, celebrations began on the turf as Neil Lennon’s men prepare to join Europe’s elite next year.

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