Celtic draw is Danish delight
Celtic missed a penalty as they drew 0-0 with ten-man Aalborg in their Champions League Group E opener at Parkhead.
By Elliot Ball
Last Updated: 17/09/08 10:44pm
Celtic missed a penalty as they drew 0-0 as with ten-man Aalborg in their UEFA Champions League opener at Parkhead on Wednesday.
Barry Robson was the guilty Celtic player as he missed a first-half spot-kick in a evenly-contested game.
And the failure to pick up maximum points at Parkhead put an immediate dent in their hopes of reaching the last 16 from a group which also includes Manchester United and Villarreal.
And to make matters worse - Celtic failed to capitalise from a piece of bizarre refeering, when Matteo Simone Trefoloni unbelievably sent off the wrong player with 10 minutes to go.
The Italian referee and his assistants also had a moment to forget when they ruled out a legitimate Scott Brown goal in the second half.
As almost 60,000 fans inside Celtic Park worked themselves into a frenzy before the game, the signs pointed to an almost inevitable home win.
The Scottish champions had lost only one of their 15 group stage games at Parkhead, beating some of the biggest names in football including United and AC Milan during that run.
By contrast, the Danish club's only previous involvement at this stage of the competition in 1995/96 saw them lose all three away ties and finish bottom of their group.
But, as so often happens when a one-sided game is predicted, events do not go to plan and Celtic struggled from the early stages.
Georgios Samaras fired over the bar from 20 yards in the 13th minute, with the Scottish champions' first effort on goal.
At the other end, Aalborg defender Michael Jakobsen drove in a ferocious free-kick from 30 yards which went wide of Artur Boruc's right-hand post, seconds before midfielder Jeppe Curth slid his shot past the other post from around 14 yards as the Celtic defence hesitated.
Nerves suddenly enveloped the home side and Kasper Risgard fired over the bar after Robson fouled Thomas Augustinussen 25 yards from goal.
The visitors were limited but their confidence grew as the first half progressed, and they showed signs that they fancied their chances of snatching a goal.
But in the 29th minute Celtic got a break when they were awarded a penalty after Steve Olfers tripped Maloney in the box.
Robson stepped up and blasted his spot-kick low down the middle, hitting the legs of Karim Zaza, and the ball bounced to safety.
Celtic stepped up the pace and moments later, with the visiting defence under siege for the first time in the match, Samaras drove his shot from six yards over the bar.
The Parkhead side started the second half with renewed vigour, Brown scooping the ball over the bar before a minute had elapsed.
There followed some desperate defending by the visitors and they were almost undone in the 50th minute when the lively Samaras turned after taking a Maloney pass and curled a low shot a yard past the far post.
Pressure intensified on the Aalborg goal but the Danish side held firm and their occasional counter-attack carried enough purpose to keep the home side on their toes.
Frustration built inside Celtic Park as the game passed the hour mark, and substitute Aiden McGeady came on for the ineffective Scott McDonald after 64 minutes to great cheers from the home fans.
Shunsuke Nakamura fired a free-kick into the arms of Zaza and Samaras stretched to knock the ball wide of the target before Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink replaced Maloney.
Brown had the ball in the net but the flag had been up for offside seconds earlier.
In the 80th minute Beauchamp was shown a straight red card for a professional foul on Samaras when it appeared that Jakobsen was the culprit, with Zaza making a great save from Nakamura's free-kick.
But, after a frenetic finish which came to nothing, the home side were left counting the cost of two dropped points against the group's fourth seeds.
|Celtic||Team Statistics||Aalborg BK|
|0||1st Half Goals||0|
|3||Shots on Target||0|
|8||Shots off Target||7|