Celtic Stuns Barcelona in Champions League; Man. Utd. Advances
Celtic upset Barcelona 2-1 in soccer’s Champions League, as Manchester United got three late goals to advance to the knockout stage.
Victor Wanyama and Tony Watt scored and goalkeeper Fraser Forster made several saves last night as Celtic handed Barcelona its first loss in the group stage of Europe’s elite club competition since October 2009. The victory came one day after the Glasgow club celebrated its 125th anniversary.
“It’s right up there, one of the proudest nights of my career,” Celtic manager Neil Lennon told Sky Sports. “It was a monumental effort on the anniversary of the club. I wanted them to do justice tonight and they’ve surpassed that and beaten the best team in the world.”
Goals from Robin van Persie, Wayne Rooney and Javier Hernandez in the final 10 minutes lifted Manchester United to a 3-1 win at Braga that clinched the top spot in Group H. United joined Malaga and Porto in qualifying for the knockout phase after four of six group games. The top two teams from each of the eight groups advance to the round of 16.
Elsewhere, defending champion Chelsea beat Shakhtar Donetsk 3-2, while Bayern Munich routed Lille 6-1 and Juventus defeated Nordsjaelland 4-0. The 35 goals scored last night fell one short of the record for a single match day.
Wanyama opened the scoring in the 21st minute at Celtic Park by heading in Charlie Mulgrew’s corner kick. It was Celtic’s only shot in the opening half as Barcelona had 67 percent of possession and had seven attempts, two of which hit the frame of the goal.
Barcelona, seeking its fourth European Cup title in eight seasons, continued to pressure in the second half, with Forster making two saves off Alexis Sanchez and one from Lionel Messi.
The home team doubled its lead with seven minutes remaining as Watt, an 18-year-old who came on for Mikael Lustig in the second half, broke free of the defense and fired a shot past Victor Valdes.
“It’s probably the best moment of my life,” Watt told Sky Sports. “I’ll look back at it when I’m older and think ’We’ve just beaten Barcelona in the Champions League.’ There’s nothing better.”
Barcelona, which beat Celtic on an injury-time goal two weeks ago, finally broke through in stoppage time as Messi scored off a rebound. Forster then made a save against Pedro on Barcelona’s last attempt to get the tying goal.
The Catalan club tops Group G with nine points, two more than Celtic. Benfica moved into third place by beating Spartak Moscow 2-0 on a pair of Oscar Cardozo goals.
In Portugal, Manchester United remained perfect with its fourth straight win to lock up first place in its group after failing to advance to the round of 16 last season.
Braga took the lead in the 49th minute on a penalty kick from Alan. The game was then delayed for about 12 minutes when a power failure knocked out some of the lights in the stadium.
After play resumed, United manager Alex Ferguson brought on Van Persie for Danny Welbeck and the Dutchman scored the tying goal with 10 minutes left by lifting the ball into the net with the goalkeeper caught out of position.
United took the lead four minutes later when Rooney scored from the penalty spot after being taken down in the area. Hernandez completed the comeback by knocking in a rebound in stoppage time.
“We had a difficult night and we weren’t at our best but we won,” Rooney told Sky Sports. “We’ve topped the group and that’s the main thing. We’re happy with that.”
Burak Yilmaz scored all three goals as Galatasaray beat Cluj 3-1 in the other group game to leave the teams tied with four points, one more than Braga.
Victor Moses’s stoppage-time goal gave Chelsea a 3-2 home win over Shakhtar Donetsk that left the teams tied for the Group E lead with seven points. Juventus is one point back after beating Nordsjaelland to end a record run of nine straight draws in European competition.
Claudio Pizzaro scored three goals in a 15-minute span of the first half to lead Bayern Munich’s rout of Lille. It was the third-fastest hat trick in Champions League history.
The win leaves Bayern and Valencia tied for the lead in Group F with nine points after the Spanish club beat BATE Borisov 4-2.
The next round of games will be played Nov. 20 and 21.
To contact the reporter on this story: Bob Bensch in London at email@example.com
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Christopher Elser at firstname.lastname@example.org