By Alex O'Henley at Celtic Park
Celtic FC picked up their first points in UEFA Champions League Group F by beating nine-man FC Shakhtar Donetsk. Alan Thompson scored the only goal of the game on 25 minutes, and Celtic were unable to add to their lead even after Shakhtar had been reduced to nine men by the dismissals of captain Anatoliy Tymoschuk and Cosmin Baracuan.
The result means that Celtic are behind Shakhtar on their head-to-head record because of the Ukrainian side's 3-0 victory in their previous meeting, but both are six points adrift of AC Milan and FC Barcelona with two games left. Barcelona beat Milan 2-1 in the group's other match this evening.
The pre-match news for Celtic fans was mixed with centre-back Dianbobo Balde failing to recover from a shoulder injury, but Senegalese striker Henri Camara was back in the starting lineup after an ankle injury. Joos Valgaeren came in for Balde while Aiden McGeady made his first Champions League start in midfield with Juninho Paulista dropping to the bench. Shakhtar were without Brandão and full-back Razvan Rat, but strikers Julius Aghahowa and Ciprian Marica were declared fit, the latter listed among the substitutes.
Celtic were the first to threaten when Camara fired wide. On three minutes the Shakhtar defence failed to clear their lines from a corner, leaving Valgaeren with a free point-blank header, but Jan Laštuvka saved. The Ukrainian side went close seven minutes later when Agahowa laid the ball into the path of Matuzalem on the edge of the area, but the Brazilian's shot was palmed away by David Marshall.
Hartson a handful
At the other end, John Hartson was proving to be a handful for Mariusz Lewandowski, and a headed clearance from the Polish midfield anchorman was picked up by Stilian Petrov, but the Bulgarian's shot went just past the post with Laštuvka beaten. Didier Agathe had a shot cleared off the line before Celtic took the lead on 25 minutes.
Thompson on target
Laštuvka was penalised for holding on to the ball too long and after a Petrov lay-off, Thompson drilled the resulting free-kick low into the corner of the net. Stanislav Varga went close with a header on 35 minutes but Laštuvka redeemed himself by clawing the ball away before it crossed the goalline.
Shakhtar were reduced to ten men three minutes before half-time when Tymoschuk was sent off for bringing down Camara as the forward raced through on goal. Despite being a man down, Shakhtar opened the second half brightly and put the home side under some early pressure, but they risked leaving themselves exposed at the back and Celtic almost capitalised on 51 minutes when Laštuvka produced a double save from Hartson and then Petrov.
Second red card
Minutes later Shakhtar were down to nine men as Barcauan, already booked in the first half, picked up his second yellow card for a trip on Petrov. Mircea Lucescu introduced all three Shakhtar substitutes as they pushed for a goal and Andriy Vorobey came close with a long-range shot just after the hour mark.
Celtic needed a second goal to make the game safe, but they could not make their two-man advantage count and Lewandowski almost snatched an equaliser with a header four minutes from the end.
The points were Celtic's but both these teams know that they must beat both Milan and Barcelona in their remaining games to have any hope of progress. Shakhtar visit Milan on 24 November, when Celtic go to Barcelona.
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