A deflected shot from Aiden McGeady at the end of the first half kept Celtic FC's Group D hopes alive by securing a 1-0 victory against SL Benfica, who had Augustin Binya sent off five minutes from time.
The Republic of Ireland midfielder had been given the playmaker's role in the absence of the injured Shunsuke Nakamura, and the 21-year-old rose to the challenge by scoring his first UEFA Champions League goal to move Celtic on to six points and a share of second place in Group D.
Gordon Strachan had kept faith with the team that beat Kilmarnock FC at the weekend, albeit with one tactical alteration with McGeady deployed on the left. Within the first few minutes he had escaped the attentions of right-back Luís Filipe to send in some tempting early crosses. However, it was the Portuguese side who had the first opportunity on seven minutes when Óscar Cardozo turned his marker inside the area before unleashing a left-foot shot which Artur Boruc parried to safety.
End to end
Two minutes later John Kennedy should have scored at the other end when he found himself unmarked at the back post from Paul Hartley's free-kick, but the centre-back nodded wide with the goal at his mercy. Within seconds Boruc had produced a fingertip save to deny Cardozo again as the game swung from end to end. Scott Brown was the next to try his luck, bursting forward from central midfield and forcing Quim to keep out his left-foot strike at the expense of a corner.
The aerial ability of Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink was causing problems for the Benfica defence and his knockdown on 17 minutes presented Brown with another chance, only for the midfielder to spurn the invitation by miskicking from close range. Celtic looked likelier to break the deadlock at this stage and Quim kept his team in contention with two stops from Scott McDonald. Eventually the pressure paid off and right on the stroke of half-time Celtic made the breakthrough courtesy of McGeady, who cut in from the left and his right-foot shot took a deflection off Luisão that left Quim helpless.
The match continued in the same vein after the break with both sides carving out openings. Jiří Jarošík was becoming more influential on the right flank for Celtic, while McGeady was proving to be a constant thorn on the other. In a bid to add more vim to his attack, Benfica coach José Camacho introduced Angel Di María for Maxi Pereira on the hour and the change almost produced an immediate dividend when Cardozo headed wide from Léo's cross.
As the game entered its last quarter, Edcarlos had a header cleared off the line by Lee Naylor before Brown demanded another save from Quim. Camacho sacrificed Cardozo for Nuno Gomes as the Lisbon Eagles chased the elusive equaliser but their frustration got the better of them as Binya was dismissed for a high tackle on Brown.