Goalscorer Aruna Dindane felt the RSC Anderlecht midfield deserved the credit for a 1-0 success against Celtic FC.
By Marcus Christenson in Brussels
Match-winner Aruna Dindane praised "his battling midfield players" after ten-man RSC Anderlecht defeated Celtic FC 1-0 in UEFA Champions League Group A.
Anderlecht produced a stunning performance of controlled resistance as they played the last 65 minutes at a numerical disadvantage following the dismissal of captain Glen de Boeck. Hugo Broos's men not only withstood everything Celtic threw at them, they also scored the winning goal with 20 minutes remaining through the tireless Dindane.
Praise for Wilhelmsson
"Obviously I am very happy to have scored the winning goal in a game like this but I have to give all the credit to the battling midfielders who worked so hard - especially [Christian] Wilhelmsson who created the goal," Dindane said.
Wilhelmsson did indeed play a large part in the goal as his run and pinpoint cross set up the Ivory Coast striker perfectly. However, it was the two central midfield players, Walter Baseggio and Besnik Hasi, who made sure that Anderlecht survived, taking turns to combat Celtic's five-man midfield as well as shielding their three-man defence.
Proof of character
"This win shows that Anderlecht are a really good team," Dindane said. "Not only when it comes to playing, but in terms of our character as well. The sending-off might even have helped us realise just how hard we would have to work to get something from the game."
However, it was Anderlecht who threatened more than Celtic after De Boeck's second yellow card. The home side, who had hit the crossbar through left-back Olivier Deschacht in the ninth minute, created chances throughout the game, with Dindane and Ivica Mornar were a constant threat.
Broos, meanwhile, thought that Celtic had not done enough with their numerical advantage. "The sending-off seemed to strengthen us but Celtic kept playing long balls to their forwards instead of using the spare man in midfield and that was a little bit strange," he said.
'Not good enough'
Celtic manager Martin O'Neill, meanwhile, was "disappointed" with his side, but praised Anderlecht for "their battling performance". He said: "We simply didn't play well enough on the night. Anyone who has seen us this season knows that we can play much better. We had enough chances to merit a draw but full credit to Anderlecht, the sending-off seemed to galvanise them and they played really well."
Celtic, however, went down fighting as they searched for a point. Chris Sutton moved forward to join the attack while midfield player Neil Lennon was replaced by striker Liam Miller, but it was to no avail. O'Neill said the defeat puts his team under pressure for the return leg at Parkhead in a fortnight, adding: "The group is so tight that anything can happen."
The win puts Anderlecht one point ahead of Celtic on four points and one behind FC Bayern München, who top the group following their 1-1 draw at Olympique Lyonnais.