Celtic FC 0-0 FC Bayern München A tense goalless draw takes Celtic to the summit of Group A.
By Alex O'Henley at Parkhead
A goalless draw at home to FC Bayern München enabled Celtic FC to move top of UEFA Champions League Group A.
Tight at the top
The result took Martin O'Neill's side above Olympique Lyonnais, who lost 1-0 at RSC Anderlecht, at the head of the standings. However, all three sides have seven points, with Bayern on six, leaving the situation finely poised ahead of the final round of matches in two weeks' time.
Celtic goalkeeper Magnus Hedman was declared fit to play after suffering back spasms at the weekend with Irish midfield player Liam Miller - who had scored in the Scottish side's last two home games in the Champions League - relegated to the bench to make way for the returning Alan Thompson. Bayern’s Brazilian winger Zé Roberto failed to recover from his back injury while Owen Hargreaves was preferred to Martin Demichelis in the centre of midfield.
The home side were the first to threaten when John Hartson linked with Chris Sutton just inside the penalty area but the Welsh striker's weak shot was straight at Oliver Kahn. Henrik Larsson was next to threaten the Bayern goal in the fourth minute when he headed narrowly wide from a Stilian Petrov corner.
Kahn called upon
Having weathered the early storm Bayern pushed upfield and Celtic captain Jackie McNamara did well to block a cut-back from Hasan Salihamidzic. Kahn then came to Bayern's rescue once again when he got down smartly to his left to push away a powerful 20-metre free-kick from Larsson, while at the other end Hedman had to look lively when a speculative cross from Michael Ballack was almost deflected into his own net by Neil Lennon.
Goalkeepers stand firm
It was a momentary respite for Bayern and in the 19th minute Larsson tested Kahn for a third time. A mazy run took the Swedish striker past three defenders on the edge of the box but his left-foot shot was straight at Kahn. Hedman then denied Bayern again six minutes later when he tipped over Ballack's 25-metre shot.
The game was fiercely contested in midfield as both sides struggled for supremacy but despite enjoying the bulk of the pressure Celtic could not break down a resolute Bayern defence. They came close twice in the 35th minute, as Didier Agathe's cross led to a chance for Bobo Balde, but his effort was cleared. Bayern failed to clear the resulting corner, and Petrov's shot was blocked.
Chances at both ends
Celtic came close again just before half-time when Hartson headed over from a Thompson corner, while the German champions also threatened, with Roque Santa Cruz almost squeezing a shot past Hedman.
The pace of the game dropped somewhat after the break as Celtic continued to look for an opener against a Bayern side who were now defending deep and in significant numbers. Willy Sagnol and Samuel Kuffour were booked in quick succession minutes after the restart as the German champions tried to stifle the impetus of the home side. Bixente Lizarazu was the next into the referee's book, quickly followed by Thompson for Celtic who now misses their final group game away to Lyon.
On the hour Celtic had to change their game plan when Agathe was forced off with a hamstring injury and was replaced by Miller. The home side continued to press, with Larsson having penalty appeals waved away while Hartson turned his marker only to see his shot charged down by Robert Kovac.