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Thursday, November 8, 2012

Barcelona Stung by Celtic Bhoys as Man United Seal Last 16 Qualification

Kenyan international Victor Wanyama celebrates putting Celtic ahead against Barca

Scottish champions Celtic recorded inarguably their most historic victory in European football since winning the European Cup final back in 1967 after they beat one of the world’s football powerhouses Barcelona in the UEFA Champions League Wednesday night.

Coming just a day after the club celebrated its 125th anniversary, the Bhoys turned men as they stunned Barcelona 2-1 in front of a home crowd who will perhaps wait for years to see such a football feat being repeated again, if it ever will.

Kenyan international Victor Mugubi Wanyama did no harm to his rising stock as one of the brightest upcoming youngsters when he put the Scots ahead with a thumping header from a Charlie Mulgrew cross in the 21st minute. Parkhead erupted.

As expected though, Barcelona bossed the match but they could not get anything concrete past Fraser Forster as the England custodian impressed yet again against an intimidating Blaugrana attack.

Substitute Anthony Watt struck in the 83rd minute to put Neil Lennon’s side on course for an unthought-of victory and they achieved exactly that in spite of Lionel Messi and co. threatening to deny the Scots a win when the Argentine struck in the first minute of added time to set up a nervy final minutes.

But the fat lady wouldn’t sing for Barca though as the Scots held on for their second win in the group that leaves them second in the log, two points adrift of Tito Villanova’s side. Celtic’s next two matches is an away trip to Benfica in a fortnight before welcoming home Spartak on December 5th. Benfica beat Spartak 2-0 in the other encounter in the group with Paraguayan Oscar Cardozo scoring a brace in the second half.

Defending champions Chelsea got their campaign back on track when substitute Victor Moses nodded a last-gasp winner as the Blues grabbed a barely deserved 3-2 win over Shakhtar Donetsk. A goalkeeping gaffe from Shakhtar custodian Andriy Pyatov gifted Chelsea the lead in the 6th minute when the keeper tried to clear a casual backpass but the ball ricocheted into the net off an onrushing Fernando Torres.

The lead didn’t last long though as three minutes later, reported Chelsea target Willian punished potentially his future employers with the equalizer. Another suspect clearance from Pyatov however gave Chelsea control before half time. The custodian rushed outside his are to clear the ball and although he succeeded, the ball fell to Oscar who rifled in from distance to restore the Blues’ one goal advantage.

A perfectly-worked Shakhtar move two minutes after the interval saw Willian claim his double and make it 2-2 but Nigerian international Moses leaped high in the dying minutes to break the traveling supporters’ hearts with the winner. The win took Roberto Di Matteo’s men into the summit of the group which is very open. Juventus fired a warning with a 4-0 thumping of Danish side FC Nordjaelland which moved them within a point of both Chelsea and Shakhtar who have seven.

Manchester United became the third team after Porto and Malaga to book their last 16 slot after coming from behind to beat Braga 3-1. Alan put the Portuguese outfit ahead early minutes in the second half but a Robin van Persie equalizer was followed by a Wayne Rooney penalty and a Javier Hernandez goal in added time as Sir Alex’s side sealed their qualification to the knockout stage and avoided an early exit like last season’s. Galatasaray beat CFR Cluj 3-1 to heat up the race for the second position.

At the Allianz Arena in Munich, Peruvian striker Claudio Pizarro’s 15-minute first-half hat-trick helped last year’s finalists Bayern hammer Lille 6-1 in Group F.

The Bavarians were 5-0 up by half time with Bastian Schweinsteiger and Arjen Robben also on target. Salomon Kalou pulled one back for the Ligue 1 side but any hopes of an unlikely comeback was hastily extinguished by Toni Kroos who netted the sixth as the Bavarians pulled on top with nine points, same as Valencia who won a six goal thriller 4-2 against BATE Borisov.

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