By Graham Hunter at the Balaídos
Club Brugge KV striker Rune Lange's 90th-minute goal snatched a UEFA Champions League victory away from RC Celta de Vigo after Aleksandr Mostovoi had given them the lead. Celta, Brugge and AFC Ajax can all now claim second place in Group H on Matchday 6.
Russian playmaker Mostovoi left the pitch to a standing ovation when he was substituted, having earlier been heckled by the home fans angry at his arriving back late from international duty with Russia last week. Celta seemed to have earned their three-point dividend for being the side which played the more attacking, enterprising football on a rain-sodden night.
However, after a Savo Milosevic effort was ruled offside only moments earlier, Brugge substitute Kevin Roelandts sent in a right-footed cross which Lange flicked over substitute goalkeeper José Manuel Pinto to dramatically level the scores.
The fact that Brugge had come for a point was indicated by their formation. Coach Trond Sollied is turning packed defence and speedy counterattack into an artform this season and he wedged Timmy Simons between a four-man defence and a four-man midfield for extra solidity. That left Norwegian Bengt Sæterns fighting a lone battle up front as Peruvian striker Andrés Mendoza's thigh injury kept him out.
Need for security
Celta coach Miguel Angel Lotina opted for the tried and tested when he relegated Pinto to the bench and put Pablo Cavallero in goal. The Argentinian keeper had been rested at the weekend after the long international journey to play for his country but saved his side twice early in the match. His best stop came when Sandy Martens ran on to a loose ball, split right-back Ángel López and Sergio Fernández and forced a brave diving save at his feet from Cavallero.
But Milosevic carried the home attack, cutting in from the right to force a sound piece of handling in the wet from Dany Verlinden. In between then and the 29th minute, when Verlinden saved even more athletically from Milosevic, the 40-year-old Belgian keeper was cautioned for wasting time by referee Eric Poulat.
Before the break Nastja Ceh struck a fierce drive on target which the Argentinian saved and Olivier De Cock's deep cross needed a fine intervention from Sergio to prevent Sæterns' header from going in.
The second half became a tale of three goalkeepers - with Verlinden taking the starring role. Over the course of nine minutes he made three outstanding saves from Milosevic, Jesuli and substitute Gustavo López. Of the three it was his leaping paw away from Lopez which stood out - and he impressed again in the 77th minute with another improvised stop from a skidding Jesuli drive.
Cavallero had been playing his part too but in the 63rd minute injury forced him reluctantly off and Pinto won back the jersey. By that time the home side had finally taken the lead. Milosevic had soldiered valiantly all night without enjoying any luck in front of goal but in the 74th minute he showed his skill as a target man.
Taking a pass from midfield, Milosevic held the ball, turned and supplied the overlapping Eduardo Berizzo. The central defender had suddenly arrived in the left-wing position and he squared a perfect ball for Mostovoi to slam the ball in - but Lange's late intervention culled their celebrations.