A Kris Commons penalty nine minutes from time took Celtic FC into the UEFA Champions League round of 16 for the first time in five seasons as a narrow victory against FC Spartak Moskva secured second place in Group G.
The Scottish champions kicked off level with SL Benfica on seven points but needing to better their Portuguese rivals' result to go through for the first time since 2007/08. All looked promising when Gary Hooper fired them into a 21st-minute lead only for a delicate Ari chip to bring eliminated Spartak level before the break. With time running out, Celtic pushed for a winner and were rewarded when Giorgos Samaras was impeded by Marek Suchý, Commons smashing his spot kick in off the underside of the crossbar to earn a result that, combined with Benfica's draw in Spain, sparked joyous scenes at the final whistle.
The visitors had settled quicker and carved out the first real opening when Kim Källström worked a one-two with Artem Dzyuba on the edge of the area before curling a left-foot shot just wide of Fraser Forster's post.
However, it was the home side who broke the deadlock with their first attack of note. Juan Insaurralde failed to cut out a Samaras pass from deep, the ball breaking off his heel and into the path of the alert Hooper, who clinically shot low past Sergei Pesyakov.
Commons came close to doubling Celtic's advantage, pouncing on a headed clearance to rifle an effort that sent Pesyakov scrambling across his line. Instead it was Spartak who struck next, Emmanuel Emenike showing great strength to hold off three defenders before sliding the ball to the unmarked Ari. Despite being forced wide, the Brazilian cleverly chipped the advancing Forster with Kelvin Wilson unable to prevent the ball crossing the line.
With Benfica goalless at Barcelona, Neil Lennon's team came out with renewed determination at the start of the second period, Samaras clipping the post with a volley from Mikael Lustig's cross. Spartak's caretaker coach Valeri Karpin withdrew Ari for Aiden McGeady just past the hour, the former Celtic player receiving a suitably warm welcome.
The home fans had more pressing issues to concern them as their side sought a second goal. Charlie Mulgrew came close to providing it, Pesyakov tipping over his header from a Commons corner, yet Commons then took matters into his own hands after Suchý was penalised for a foul on Samaras.
With nerves jangling, Spartak lost Källström to a second yellow card for a foul on Commons, and Celtic held on to book their place in the draw on 20 December.
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