Fearless Celtic saluted by Hooper
Tuesday, October 2, 2012
A pre-match pep-talk from manager Neil Lennon helped inspire Celtic FC's win at FC Spartak Moskva according to forward Gary Hooper while Sergei Pesyakov rued a missed opportunity.
Article top media content
A pre-match pep-talk, when Celtic FC manager Neil Lennon told his players they had "nothing to fear", helped inspire them to victory at FC Spartak Moskva according to forward Gary Hooper.
Hooper had given Celtic an early UEFA Champions League Group G lead in Moscow but two Emmanuel Emenike strikes either side of half-time looked to have turned the game, only for Juan Insaurralde to be sent off. Dmitri Kombarov then put through his own goal and Giorgos Samaras produced a 90th-minute header to earn Celtic a first away win in this competition at the 21st attempt. Hooper admitted the red card was their catalyst to move on to four points while Spartak goalkeeper Sergei Pesyakov rued a missed opportunity.
Gary Hooper, Celtic forward
I think the red card changed the game but we still had to put the ball in the net to win. I thought we did that really well and it was a great ball by Emilio [Izaguirre] for Samaras's goal. We were under a lot of pressure and I hardly had a touch in the first few minutes. But we defended well and we tried to get the ball down and we nicked a goal and I thought we settled down. They managed to score from a good ball and a good finish so we were happy to go into the break at 1-1, but in the end we are happy we got the three points.
The manager said before the game that we've got nothing to lose or nothing to fear and I thought we did really well tonight. We got a good point against Benfica in our first game in the group stage and tonight I thought we dealt with them really well.
Scott Brown, Celtic midfielder
Spartak Moskva are a great team and they showed great character but I think our determination and will power helped us get through that. They have some great players but we knew we had to get close to them and try and close them down and we managed to do that. I think Kim Källström put a great ball over the top, but that's what happens when you give good players time, but I think over the 90 minutes we deserved the win.
I hope this win is going to kick us on and shows what great team spirit the lads have. It shows the determination and character to win games whether at home or away. It's the first time this group of players has played in the Champions League and we have just shown everyone what we can do.
Sergei Pesyakov, Spartak goalkeeper
It was a really bad game to lose, especially at home to one of our main rivals. Seeing how the match panned out, we really should have gone on to win. On the whole, I think we controlled the game and enjoyed the majority of possession but I don't think we managed to create enough chances. We scored two goals but the game changed after the sending-off. We gave away a soft second goal and then conceded at the death. It's difficult to talk about this.
It will become clearer how much this defeat will play on our minds after this week, but I hope we will be able to get through it. On Sunday we have a derby against local rivals CSKA Moskva. We need to get ready for this match and make sure that we are fully prepared.
Evgeni Makeev, Spartak defender
We haven't got this campaign off to the best of starts. Against Barcelona we didn't play that badly. Today unfortunately was completely the opposite and it's difficult to explain why – maybe we were just tired? Our opponents gave us the opportunity to play, but we conceded due to our own mistakes. We had a number of players out injured, which also needs to be taken into account, but then again we could find a whole number of excuses why we lost. I still believe we lost this game ourselves.
Celtic looked to defend and we knew they would try to hit us on the counterattack. They didn't surprise us in any way with their tactics, but they still managed to score three goals. We need to forget about this match, otherwise we will not be able to move forward. We need to keep on playing and I think the results will then start to come.