Celtic's Kris Commons takes a penalty kick and scores past Spartak Moscow goalkeeper Sergei Pesyakov during their Champions League match at Celtic Park stadium in Glasgow, Scotland on December 5, 2012© REUTERS/ David Moir
MOSCOW, December 6 (R-Sport) - Kris Commons' late penalty gave Celtic a 2-1 win over Spartak Moscow and a place in the knockout stages of the Champions League.
Celtic went into the game knowing that they had to achieve a better result than Benfica to stop the Portuguese side taking the second qualifying spot in Group G.
Benfica held group leaders Barcelona to a goalless draw at the Nou Camp, forcing Celtic to fight for all three points at home to Spartak.
The victory caps a memorable Celtic campaign that boasted a home win over Barcelona and the Hoops' first away Champions League win, in Moscow in October.
For the Russians, last month's 3-0 defeat to Barcelona had already ensured Spartak would finish last in the group, and the defeat was another setback to caretaker boss Valery Karpin's efforts to steady the ship after Unai Emery was fired as coach last month.
As he did in the 3-2 win in Moscow, Gary Hooper scored Celtic's opener, pouncing on a poor clearance by Juan Insaurralde and driving the ball past the onrushing Sergei Pesyakov.
For Insaurralde, it was his second major error in two meetings with Spartak, after a red card for a last-man challenge in October.
Celtic briefly seemed to have taken control of the match as their share of possession grew, but Spartak struck back on 39 minutes when Ari chipped goalkeeper Fraser Forster.
The Brazilian was set up by Emmanuel Emenike, who showed great skill in beating Beram Kayal and keeping the ball under pressure from Efe Ambrose before playing in Ari.
With 81 minutes gone, the referee ruled Spartak center-back Marek Suchy had barged over Giorgos Samaras in the box and awarded a penalty.
Commons stepped up to take the spot-kick and sent the ball off the underside of the bar and into the net for the winner.
Late on, Spartak saw midfielder Kim Kallstrom's 50th Champions League appearance end with a red card as the Swede picked up a second booking.
As Celtic tried to wind down the clock in stoppage time, Benfica pushed for a win against a Barcelona side reduced to ten men following an injury to Lionel Messi, but the Lisbon side could not find the breakthrough they needed to steal second place from Celtic.
In sub-zero conditions in Glasgow, Spartak saw more of the ball, but Celtic enjoyed the better chances.
Emenike was Spartak's most dangerous forward throughout as the Russians tried to salvage some pride from an unsuccessful European campaign.
The Nigerian sent efforts wide shortly before and after Hooper's opener as Spartak showed their teeth.
Kris Commons could have put Celtic 2-0 up on the half-hour mark, but fired a promising effort off-target from the edge of the box.
The Glaswegians could have taken a 2-1 lead early in the second half when Samaras volleyed the ball against the post.
Spartak's Aiden McGeady came on against his old club as a second-half substitute to a warm welcome from the Celtic Park crowd, but his main contribution to the game was a late booking.
There will be no Russian interest in the knockout stages of the Champions League after the country's other representatives Zenit St. Petersburg finished third in Group C and head to the Europa League.
Add to blog
You may place this material on your blog by copying the link.
Image Galleries: Hungry Hippos, Tiny Tamarins and Other Animal News
Infographics: First Russian Smartphone
Edward Snowden is not an isolated case but part of an independent community which is increasingly resolute in asserting itself and rejecting “raison d’Etat” and behind-the-scenes manipulation. The direct results of Snowden’s disclosures are most clearly evident in the context of Russian-American relations. The Snowden case has humiliated Europe, which Putin took the opportunity to remind them of.