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By Alex O'Henley at Celtic Park
AC Milan secured the point they needed to win UEFA Champions League Group F as they held Celtic FC in a scoreless encounter in Glasgow.
Celtic miss out
With FC Shakhtar Donetsk overcoming second-placed FC Barcelona 2-0 in the other fixture a point was not enough for Celtic, who missed out on the consolation of a place in the knockout stages of the UEFA Cup as the Ukrainian side overtook the Scottish champions to claim third position in the section.
There was mixed news for the home fans before kick-off, with Stilian Petrov recovering from an ankle injury to take his place in midfield, but full-back Didier Agathe ruled out by a groin injury. Carlo Ancelotti made seven changes to the side that defeated Shakhtar 4-0 on Matchday 5 with Kaká, Andrea Pirlo, Clarence Seedorf, Hernán Crespo, Gennaro Gattuso and Cafu all dropping to the substitutes' bench.
Celtic started with Chris Sutton and John Hartson in attack and it was clear the Milan defence were unsettled by the aerial threat posed by the tall strikers in the opening minutes. On three minutes Aiden McGeady slipped past Fabricio Coloccini on the left before delivering a tempting cross which Sutton miscued at the back post and minutes later the 18-year-old McGeady went close with a powerful shot that rose just over the bar.
The Italian champions then showed their danger on the counterattack, Andriy Shevchenko testing the pace of Dianbobo Balde as he broke into the box, but the Guinean defender stuck out a leg to divert the ball back to his goalkeeper Magnus Hedman before the Milan striker could get his shot away. It signalled a period of sustained pressure by the visitors and Brazilian midfield player Serginho, one of the players drafted into the starting lineup, hit the crossbar with Hedman beaten.
Celtic were now camped deep inside their own half but fortunately for them Milan appeared to be more interested in retaining possession. However, the home side almost opened the scoring just before half-time when Dida produced a magnificent save to turn Hartson's shot over after Jackie McNamara had crossed from the right.
By now Celtic were aware that Shakhtar were 2-0 ahead against Barcelona in the Ukraine, meaning they had to find a second-half goal if they were to hold on to third place. McNamara was pushed forward from the back to inject some urgency into midfield and within minutes the Celtic captain had won a corner. Thompson swung the kick into the back post where Stanislav Varga managed to escape the attentions of Coloccini, but could only head wide.
Sutton then missed a gilt-edged opportunity on 51 minutes after a rare mistake by Paolo Maldini. The Milan captain misjudged a Hartson flick-on allowing the ball to roll under his feet ten metres out, but the English forward was taken by surprise and failed to take advantage.
McGeady was the most creative influence in the Celtic midfield and on the hour his quick feet took him away from two defenders before releasing Joos Valgaeren down the left. The Belgian defender crossed the ball to the near post, but Dida was alert to prevent a scoring opportunity for Sutton.
It was Valgaeren's last contribution as he was sacrificed moments later to make way for Henri Camara as Celtic went for broke, introducing Juninho Paulista in place of Petrov. It made little difference though, and Milan held on to end Celtic's European campaign.
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