Celtic FC beat holders AC Milan 2-1 to earn their first points in UEFA Champions League Group D on a tense night in Glasgow. Stephen McManus's goal had given the Scottish champions the edge early in the second half but Kaká cancelled this out from the penalty spot. However, the match was decided in the 90th minute when Scott McDonald popped up to score from close range.
Celtic manager Gordon Strachan had sprung a surprise by selecting Jiří Jarošík for his first game since April with Shunsuke Nakamura among the substitutes having failed to overcome a knee injury. The Czech international was deployed on the left of a five-man midfield with Scott Brown given the extra responsibility of joining McDonald in attack.
Massimo Donati had been looking forward to the reunion with his former team-mates ever since the draw was made, and the midfielder showed his intent with an early drive which Dida smothered to his right. The last time these clubs had met, in the knockout stage last term, Kaká had proved to be the difference and Milan's brilliant Brazilian almost produced a replica of his extra-time winner at the San Siro in the 19th minute. Surging away from Donati and Paul Hartley, he unleashed a right-foot shot which Artur Boruc gathered at the second attempt.
The attack prompted a period of prolonged possession for Carlo Ancelotti's ensemble, with Kaká and Andrea Pirlo orchestrating moves from midfield. Just after the half-hour Clarence Seedorf almost unlocked the home defence with a deft chip over the top aimed for Filippo Inzaghi, but the striker failed to control and the ball squirted to safety on the greasy surface.
End to end
After a cat-and-mouse finish to the first half, Celtic came out eager to pose more of a threat with Aiden McGeady prominent down the right. In so doing, however, Strachan's men were leaving themselves exposed at the back and Inzaghi almost capitalised with a flashing shot from Massimo Oddo's cross. The Rossoneri were dealt a blow ten minutes after the restart when Yoann Gourcuff replaced the injured Seedorf, yet even without the Dutchman the holders still menaced. Kaká almost fashioned another opportunity for Inzaghi just before the hour when only the quick thinking of Lee Naylor prevented a clear sight on goal.
The hosts were growing in confidence, though, and made the breakthrough on 62 minutes. Hartley's corner was flicked on by Donati, deceiving Dida who had come off his line and enabling McManus to bundle the loose ball into the net with a little help from Gourcuff. Milan almost levelled immediately, Pirlo's free-kick deflecting off the wall and Boruc being forced to spoon it over his crossbar. Yet they did not have to wait long for the equaliser. Naylor was adjudged to have pulled down Massimo Ambrosini on 68 minutes and Kaká coolly converted the spot-kick. Strachan threw on Nakamura and Chris Killen for the closing stages but the contest seemed to be heading for a draw until McDonald reacted quickest to slot home after Dida could only parry Gary Caldwell's shot. Cue delirium.