Tag Archives: commons

Kris Commons wants Celtic to face Manchester United in Champions League

Bring on the Battle of Britain! Commons hoping Celtic draw Man United in Europe

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UPDATED:

18:18 GMT, 6 December 2012

Kris Commons believes Celtic are a match for anyone in the last 16 of the Champions League but would prefer a tie against boyhood heroes Manchester United.

The Hoops midfielder slammed in a dramatic late penalty in the Group G decider against Spartak Moscow at Parkhead last night to seal the 2-1 win and a place in the knockout stages of the competition along with section winners Barcelona.

Neil Lennon’s men could face United, Malaga, Juventus, Bayern Munich, Borussia Dortmund, Schalke or Paris St Germain when the draw is made on December 20.

Battle of Britain: Celtic's Kris Commons (left) wants to draw Man United in the next round

Battle of Britain: Celtic's Kris Commons (left) wants to draw Man United in the next round

Celtic beat Barcelona 2-1 at Parkhead on their way to reaching 10 points and it is that victory which Commons holds up as evidence of the Scottish champions’ confidence.

However, the Mansfield-born Scotland international, who played for Stoke, Derby and Nottingham Forest before his move to Celtic in 2011, would like another trip to Old Trafford.

'I think we can beat anyone on our day, we have proved that, not only in the SPL but in Europe, we can beat top, top sides,' he said.

'With our fans and the way we set out to win games, I don’t think anyone will fancy coming to play us.

'So it’s going to be a tough draw for whoever it is. There are a few really tough sides but being a boy from down south, I would like to play Man United.

'I’ve played them before a couple of times but I was a Man United fan as a kid so for me, to get the chance to play against that club and play at that stadium again would be a dream come true again.'

The 29-year-old was speaking at Lennoxtown as he nursed a dead leg which saw him taken off on a stretcher five minutes from time following a challenge from Kim Kallstrom which earned the Spartak midfielder a second yellow card.

The Scottish champions went into the match knowing they would qualify for the knockout stages only if they got a better result against Spartak, consigned to the bottom of the table, than Benfica got in the Nou Camp.

In the 81st minute with the game tied at 1-1 after Gary Hooper’s opener had been cancelled out by Ari, a roar swept around the stadium which suggested that Barca had scored.

Bring it on: Commons wants to try his luck against players like Wayne Rooney (centre)

Bring it on: Commons wants to try his luck against players like Wayne Rooney (centre)

However, it was an erroneous call, the game in the Nou Camp finished goalless and had Commons not scored with the spot-kick that Lennon could not bring himself to watch, then it would have been Benfica and not Celtic who would have gone through.

Commons said: 'I thought Barcelona were winning anyway so I just thought, “I will smash this in, we have done our part but Benfica are losing anyway”.

'We got the feeling from the crowd that Barcelona had scored. We didn’t really feel that we needed to press and force the issue to get a goal.

'I could then sense the fans were anxious and with the manager willing us to get a goal and also bringing on Lassad.

Rocket: Commons drills home the spot-kick that sent the Hoops through

Rocket: Commons drills home the spot-kick that sent the Hoops through

'I would have thought someone from the sideline would have said, “listen, we need a goal because at this point in time we are going out”.

'So taking the penalty I had no idea what the consequence was – or I would have probably given it to Lassad.

'He was a big goalkeeper and the only worry was that his feet were still going to be in the middle as he dived.

'I wanted to go as high as possible without ballooning it over the bar and lucky enough for me it hit the underside of the bar and went in after the bounce and then into the roof of the net.

'My heart sank for a millisecond and then I was able to celebrate.'

Aberdeen 0 Celtic 2 match report: Lassad Nouioui and Charlie Mulgrew goals

Aberdeen 0 Celtic 2: Late salvo sees off Dons and gets Bhoys back to winning ways

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UPDATED:

15:11 GMT, 17 November 2012

Celtic made hard work of it but eventually netted twice in the final quarter of the game to defeat Aberdeen and jump to the top of the SPL, albeit with Hibs yet to play.

Lassad Nouioui opened the scoring when he stroked into an empty net in the 73rd minute, having only come on for Kris Commons four minutes earlier. Charlie Mulgrew added a second against his former club three minutes later.

Despite the early kick-off, the crowds arrived in their numbers as Pittodrie basked in the lunchtime sun.

Game over: Celtic's Charlie Mulgrew is mobbed after netting the second

Game over: Celtic's Charlie Mulgrew sparks wild scenes after netting the second

Match facts

Aberdeen: Langfield, Reynolds, Considine, Anderson, Magennis, Rae (Robertson 46), Osbourne, Clark, Fraser (Vernon 64), McGinn, Hayes (Fallon 78). Subs not used: Jason Brown, Shaughnessy, Masson, Smith.

Celtic: Forster, Matthews, Ambrose, Wilson, Mulgrew, Lustig, Wanyama, Kayal, Commons (Nouioui 69), Samaras (McGeouch 80), Watt. Subs not used: Zaluska, Nouioui, McCourt, Ibrahim, Atajic, Chalmers, McGeouch.

Goals: Nouioui 73, Mulgrew 77.

Referee: Craig Thomson.

Attendance: 18,000.

The latest SPL table, fixtures and results

The home support were boosted by
teenage winger Ryan Fraser's swift recovery from an ankle knock
sustained in their 4-1 win over St Mirren last week. The only change to
the side that had started that game saw Gavin Rae return in place of
Clark Robertson.

Celtic, who had disappointingly drawn
with St Johnstone, handed Tony Watt a start after the promising young
striker came off the bench to find the net against the Saints. He
replaced Venezuelan striker Miku in attack.

There were two further alterations to
Neil Lennon's starting eleven, with midfielders Scott Brown and Joe
Ledley missing out. Mikael Lustig and Beram Kayal took their places in
the side.

As early as the second minute, Josh
Magennis' strong run up the right flank for Aberdeen allowed him to slip
a pass to Johnny Hayes, only for the former Inverness Caledonian
Thistle winger to send his left-footed shot into the side netting.

And five minutes later, the Dons' top
scorer Niall McGinn fashioned an opening with neat play on the edge of
the area, but Fraser Forster was able to gather comfortably.

On the scoresheet: Lassad Nouioui turns to celebrate after netting the first

On the scoresheet: Lassad Nouioui turns to celebrate after netting the first

/11/17/article-2234376-16139382000005DC-11_634x495.jpg” width=”634″ height=”495″ alt=”No holds barred: Gavin Rae goes in hard on Kris Commons” class=”blkBorder” />

No holds barred: Gavin Rae goes in hard on Kris Commons

Celtic came closest yet as Commons
retrieved a half-cleared Mulgrew corner on the left and swung a
dangerous cross to the far post, where Watt headed off the base of the
post.

Just after the half-hour, Chris Clark
created space to cross from the left for the Dons and though McGinn got
in the way of an initial header from Magennis, the former Celtic man
reacted quickly to send a low shot narrowly wide of Forster's right-hand
upright.

The Dons made a change at the
interval with Robertson replacing Rae, who had been touch and go before
the match. And the home side had some pressure early in the second half,
culminating in a Magennis throw being headed narrowly over by Anderson.

Celtic were presented with a fine
opportunity when Andrew Considine brought down Commons 22 yards out.
Mulgrew took the free-kick but looped his effort high and wide of the
far post.

Aberdeen were dealt a blow when
Fraser was again forced off just after the hour, limping from the pitch
to be replaced by Scott Vernon.

On the run: Georgios Samaras evades Gavin Rae

On the run: Georgios Samaras evades Gavin Rae

The Dons were undeterred, however,
and after 68 minutes they had their best chance yet. McGinn cut the ball
back for Hayes, and the Irishman set himself before firing low into the
side netting.

But the deadlock was finally broken
five minutes later, and the goal came for Celtic. Wanyama crashed a
25-yard shot off Jamie Langfield's left-hand post, and all newcomer
Nouioui had to do was roll the ball home.

Boosted by their goal, Celtic added a
second just three minutes later. Samaras crossed from the left and, at
the back post, Mulgrew acrobatically volleyed home left-footed.

The visitors had the ball in the net
again when Wanyama headed home at the back post, but the flag had
already been raised for offside against the Celtic man.

G4S nominated for award despite London 2012 Olympics security failure

Sports Agenda Extra: We needed troops to step in yet G4S could land 2012 Games gong

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UPDATED:

12:05 GMT, 5 November 2012

Bungling security firm G4S, who caused by far the most problems at London 2012, are remarkably on the short-list for a prestigious honour for their botched Olympic work.

The beleaguered company, who failed by massive numbers to provide enough temporary security staff for the Games – the shortfall being 35 per cent on the worst days – are somehow among the finalists at the International Sports Event Management's awards dinner on Wednesday at London's Cumberland Hotel.

National service: Armed Forces had to step in following the failure of contracted security firm G4S to provide 10,000 trained security staff for the Games

National service: Armed Forces had to step in following the failure of contracted security firm G4S to provide 10,000 trained security staff for the Games

To make G4S's appearance at the flagship occasion even more unlikely, their entry relates to setting up temporary accommodation for the army during the Olympics.

And the military only had to be called in because G4S had failed by such a huge margin to train and provide the necessary personnel contracted in the 236m deal.

Speaking up: G4S chief executive Nick Buckles, gives evidence on Olympic security staffing to the Home Affairs Select Committee at the House of Commons earlier this year

Speaking up: G4S (below) chief executive Nick Buckles, gives evidence on Olympic security staffing to the Home Affairs Select Committee at the House of Commons earlier this year

Private security guards G4S secure the entrance to Alexander Stadium, the US athletics team training camp for the London 2012 Olympic Games

One insider described G4S as 'deluded' for even entering the Event Overlay and Facilities award category although it was considered inconceivable that they would win.

The other more worthy short-listed candidates are London 2012 and caterers PKL Group for Games related achievements and De Boer International for the Qatar Masters golf.

St Mirren 0 Celtic 5: Bhoys batter Saints as Lennon"s men cruise in Nou Camp warm-up

St Mirren 0 Celtic 5: Bhoys batter Saints as Lennon's men cruise in Nou Camp warm-up

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UPDATED:

13:54 GMT, 20 October 2012

Celtic warmed up for a trip to the Nou Camp by thrashing St Mirren in their Clydesdale Bank Premier League clash in Paisley.

Goals from Gary Hooper and Efe Ambrose, then Victor Wanyama's double, gave an under-strength Hoops side an unassailable interval lead against sorry-looking Saints.

Tony Watt scored with four minutes remaining to seal a commanding victory, which manager Neil Lennon would have wanted ahead of their Champions League Group G clash with Barcelona on Tuesday night.

No mistake: Efe Ambrose scores the second after St Mirren keeper Craig Samson fumbled

No mistake: Efe Ambrose scores the second after St Mirren keeper Craig Samson fumbled

Match facts

St Mirren: Samson, Van Zanten, McAusland, Mair, Dummett, Guy, Carey, Goodwin (McGinn 78), McLean, Barron (Imrie 46), Thompson. Subs not used: Chris Smith, Robertson, Parkin, Teale, Jack Smith.

Booked: Mair, McAusland.

Celtic: Forster, Matthews (Lustig 75), Wilson (Izaguirre 46), Mulgrew, Ambrose, Wanyama, Ledley, Kayal, Nouioui (Miku 57), Hooper, Watt. Subs not used: Zaluska, McCourt, Rogne, Ibrahim.

Booked: Wanyama.

Goals: Hooper 15, Ambrose 18, Wanyama 32, 38, Watt 86.

Att: 6,008.

Ref: Calum Murray.

Lennon will have some welcome selection headaches for Spain as his starting line-up had several key players missing.

Skipper Scott Brown (hip), winger
James Forrest (groin) and midfielder Kris Commons (hamstring) were out
and striker Georgios Samaras was rested with full-backs Emilio Izaguirre
and Mikael Lustig starting on the bench.

Saints boss Danny Lennon made one
change and reshuffled his team, with defender David Barron coming in for
striker Sam Parkin – who started on the bench. However, his men were
crushed in a one-sided first half.

The SPL leaders might have started
with a weakened side but they looked sharp and purposeful from the first
minute when Buddies goalkeeper Craig Samson had to rush from his goal
to foil Watt, who tried to latch on to a flick from Lassad.

In the 13th minute Hoops keeper
Fraser Forster was forced into a decent save at his near post from Lewis
Guy's volley after a great curling cross from Buddies' midfielder David
van Zanten had picked out the unmarked Paisley striker.

Up and running: Gary Hooper fires Celtic's first

Up and running: Gary Hooper fires Celtic's first

Moments later, at the other end,
Celtic's stand-in captain Joe Ledley's drive was more easily saved by
Samson but the Saints number one was soon to be beaten twice in three
minutes.

Hooper was playing in an unfamiliar
role behind Watt and Lassad but it made him no less of a goal threat and
in the 15th minute he was perfectly placed to help the Tunisia
international Lassad's cross into the net.

Celtic's second came three minutes
later when Charlie Mulgrew's whipped-in free-kick was spilled by Samson
and Ambrose was on hand to scoop the ball high into the net before
entertaining the Hoops fans with a quadruple somersault celebration of
his first goal for the Parkhead club.

Three and easy: Victor Wanyama hit two at St Mirren Park

Three and easy: Victor Wanyama hit two at St Mirren Park

Kenny McLean saw a tame drive saved
by Forster before it was 3-0 in the 32nd minute when Matthews' deep
corner from the right bounced off defender Paul Dummett straight into
the path of Wanyama, who fired it low past Samson.

The rampant visitors should have made
it 4-0 in four minutes later but Ledley headed another good Mulgrew
free-kick over the bar from only six yards out.

However, the next Celtic goal, and
the best of the game, arrived in the 38th minute when Wanyama took a
Mulgrew pass and from 30 yards curled the ball past the despairing
Samson.

Celtic looked in the mood to pile on
the misery for Saints but Ambrose missed a great chance to grab his
second when he headed over.

Skipping away: Tony Watt evades the challenge of David Barron

Skipping away: Tony Watt evades the challenge of David Barron

Unsurprisingly, St Mirren manager
Danny Lennon made a change at the break with Dougie Imrie replacing
Barron while Izaguirre came on for Kelvin Wilson, with Mulgrew moving
into the centre of defence. Celtic then replaced Lassad with Miku.

The Parkhead men continued to pepper
the Saints goal with efforts and in the 63rd minute van Zanten prevented
Wanyama taking home the match ball when he headed clear the
midfielder's goalbound header from Matthews' corner.

In the 67th minute Steven Thompson had a point-blank shot saved by Forster before Carey blasted the rebound wide.

As the minutes ticked away the former
Rangers striker headed a van Zanten free-kick wide of the target before
flicking Jim Goodwin's cross over.

That's my boy: Neil Lennon congratulates Ambrose

That's my boy: Neil Lennon congratulates Ambrose

But Celtic threatened continuously.
In the 85th minute Hooper was too casual with his attempt at lobbing
Samson when he clean through on goal, allowing the Saints keeper to
save.

However, a minute later the tireless
Watt got the goal he deserved when he bulleted a close-range header past
Samson after being set up by Izaguirre.

Wanyama came close and Samson saved
Hooper's close-range header as Celtic finished with a flourish to
reinforce their place as the top team in Scotland, although they will
undoubtedly find it more difficult against Barca.

Wales 2 Scotland 1: Match report

Wales 2 Scotland 1: Late Bale double saves Coleman's blushes as Spurs star keeps dream alive

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UPDATED:

20:55 GMT, 12 October 2012

Chris Coleman earned his first win as Wales manager as a double from Gareth Bale secured all three points in Friday's World Cup qualifier against Scotland.

The Scots – also searching for their first victory in Group A – had taken the lead through James Morrison in the first half.

But star man Bale had the final say in the clash in Cardiff when he won and converted a second half penalty, before grabbing a stunning long-range winner with a minute to go.

Double trouble: Gareth Bale sealed the win for Wales with a long range stunner

Double trouble: Gareth Bale sealed the win for Wales with a long range stunner

Whoops: Bale was brought down by Shaun Maloney in the area

Whoops: Bale was brought down by Shaun Maloney in the area

MATCH FACTS

Wales: Price, Gunter, Davies, A Williams, Vaughan, Blake, Allen, Ledley (Robson-Kanu 71min), Ramsey, Bale, Morison (Davies 64min)

Subs not used: Brown, Williams, Ricketts, Wilson, King, Richards, Church, Vokes,

Goals: Bale 81 pen, 89

Scotland: McGregor, Hutton, Berra, Caldwell, Fox, Maloney, Fletcher, Brown (Adam 45min), Morrison (Miller 84min), Commons (Mackie 84min), Fletcher

Subs not used: Gilks, Marshall, Mulgrew, R Martin, Webster, Adam, McArthur, M Phillips, Forrest

Goals: Morrison 27

Ref: Meyer

Attendance: 23,249

Midfielder Darren Fletcher returned to
the Scotland team for the first time in almost a year as captain for
this evening's World Cup Qualifying Group A clash with Wales at Cardiff
City Stadium.

As well as the skipper – who had been
sidelined by a chronic bowel complaint – striker Steven Fletcher and
winger Kris Commons were also back in the side after considerable
absences from international football.

The trio's inclusion was among five
changes from the Scots' 1-1 draw with Macedonia last month, with Danny
Fox and the fit-again Scott Brown the other men being brought in.

There was a new captain for the hosts
too as centre-back Ashley Williams assumed the armband from midfielder
Aaron Ramsey to lead a Dragons team that showed four adjustments from
their 6-1 drubbing in Serbia.

In place of injured goalkeeper Boaz
Myhill and defender Adam Matthews, Lewis Price and debutant Ben Davies
came into the team, along with midfield pair David Vaughan and Joe
Ledley.

Familiar sight: Bale converted the penalty he won with ease to make the game 1-1

Familiar sight: Bale converted the penalty he won with ease to make the game 1-1

Just like that: James Morrison put the game at 1-0 after latching onto a Steven Fletcher header

Just like that: James Morrison put the game at 1-0 after latching onto a Steven Fletcher header

Scotland looked the more composed side
in the very early exchanges, but Wales soon found some rhythm and Bale
sent a dipping effort off-target from distance in the seventh minute.

The Tottenham man tried his luck again
three minutes later, latching on to Chris Gunter's lofted ball down the
right channel, cutting in and bending a shot across Allan McGregor that
went just wide.

The best Scotland could muster in
response was an Alan Hutton effort that went over, before Ramsey teed up
Joe Allen for a strike that Gary Caldwell managed to bock.

Wales then had the clearest chance yet to open the scoring when Bale crossed for Steve Morison, who could only head wide.

Within seconds, the ball had been sent
downfield where Steven Fletcher beat Williams to flick it on for
Morrison, who smashed it past Price.

The Dragons went in search of a reply and, after Bale had struck a free-kick too high, Allen shot wide.

Welcome back: Steven Fletcher marked his return to the Scotland side with a brilliant assist in the first half

Welcome back: Steven Fletcher marked his return to the Scotland side with a brilliant assist in the first half

Lively: Gareth Bale had an energetic game up against Danny Fox (right)

Lively: Gareth Bale had an energetic game up against Danny Fox (right)

Have it: Gareth Bale hammers the ball during the clash with Scotland

Have it: Gareth Bale hammers the ball during the clash with Scotland

Steven Fletcher could then only scuff his attempt when the ball came to him from Fox's delivery.

Davies was next to hit one wide for
the Welsh and Ramsey sent the ball over before Morrison did likewise at
the other end from Steven Fletcher's knock-down.

The Dragons – who went into the World
Cup qualifier having lost all five games since Coleman succeeded the
late Gary Speed, including last month's Group A fixtures against Belgium
and Serbia – created several chances in the first half, with Steve
Morison wasting a decent one when he nodded wide in the 27th minute.

Seconds later, Scotland were in front as Morrison ran on to Steven Fletcher's header and fired past Lewis Price.

Oi! Chris Coleman belted out instructions from the sidelines

Oi! Chris Coleman belted out instructions from the sidelines

Remember me Stoke and Scotland's Charlie Adam had to wait until the second half before going toe-to-toe with Bale again

Remember me Stoke and Scotland's Charlie Adam had to wait until the second half before going toe-to-toe with Bale again

After Price tipped away a ball swept
into the box by Hutton three minutes into the second half, Wales were
dealt another blow when Ramsey was booked for a foul on the Scotland
full-back, meaning he misses the next game.

The Arsenal midfielder's luck did not
improve as he went down in the box under a challenge from substitute
Charlie Adam, only to see the referee wave play on.

Morrison suddenly found himself in space and fired at Price, with the goalkeeper pulling off a good save.

Back: Darren Fletcher (left) was back in the Scotland side

Back: Darren Fletcher (left) was back in the Scotland side

Not happening: Aaron Ramsey could not make a breakthrough in the first half for the Welsh

Not happening: Aaron Ramsey could not make a breakthrough in the first half for the Welsh

Ramsey then advanced towards goal but failed to finish as McGregor came out to meet him.

The Scots thought they had doubled
their lead when Steven Fletcher bulleted a header into the back of the
net with 15 minutes remaining.

But the assistant referee deemed
Adam's cross had swerved out of play and the effort was disallowed,
although television pictures suggested this may not have been the case.

Wales were back on level terms with 10
minutes to go when Maloney was deemed to have fouled Bale in the box,
who got up and rifled past McGregor from the penalty spot.

Hutton then fired just over as the
Scots searched for a late winner but the honours went to Wales instead
with a minute to go when Bale curled a stunning left-foot shot past
McGregor to claim a last-gasp win.

How did that not go in Steve Morison missed a golden opportunity in the first half

How did that not go in Steve Morison missed a golden opportunity in the first half

How did that not go in Steve Morison missed a golden opportunity in the first half

Come here! Premier League stars Joe Allen (left) and Shaun Maloney (right) battle for possession

Come here! Premier League stars Joe Allen (left) and Shaun Maloney (right) battle for possession

Kris Commons in Scotland squad as Jordan Rhodes and Robert Snodgrass withdraw

Commons back in Scotland squad after Levein loses Rhodes and Snodgrass to injury

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UPDATED:

15:14 GMT, 9 October 2012

SOS: Kris Commons is back in the Scotland squad

SOS: Kris Commons is back in the Scotland squad

In-form Celtic midfielder Kris Commons has won a Scotland recall after Robert Snodgrass and Jordan Rhodes pulled out of the squad to face Wales and Belgium.

Commons was a controversial exclusion for the World Cup double header after arguably being Celtic's best player this season.

But the 29-year-old, who last played for Scotland in a friendly defeat by Brazil in March 2011, has been drafted in after Norwich winger Snodgrass failed to overcome the ankle problem which kept him out of action at the weekend.

Blackburn striker Rhodes has also withdrawn with an ankle injury.

Snodgrass started the goalless draw with Serbia last month and Rhodes came off the bench against both Serbia and Macedonia.

Commons was last named in a squad for the friendly against Denmark at Hampden on August 10.

But the former Nottingham Forest and Derby player turned up at the team hotel with a protective boot on after suffering a foot injury for Celtic and was eventually ruled out.

He was also forced to withdraw from the previous squad, for the Carling Nations Cup games against Wales and the Republic of Ireland in May 2011.

Crocked: Robert Snodgrass (left) has lost his battle to be fit for Scotland

Crocked: Robert Snodgrass (left) has lost his battle to be fit for Scotland

He was sent home by the Scotland medical team with tight hamstrings after reporting to the team hotel.

Commons, who has scored two goals in nine international appearances, struggled with form and fitness for much of last season but has re-established himself as a key player for Celtic in an advanced midfield role this term.

Scotland manager Craig Levein previously said there were more than half a dozen players ahead of Commons in his position and that he was 'really unlucky' to be left out of his initial squad.

Agony: Jordan Rhodes (left) misses Scotland's World Cup qualifiers

Agony: Jordan Rhodes (left) misses Scotland's World Cup qualifiers

Commons last week admitted his exclusion had left him 'baffled' and later told Celtic's matchday programme that his international career was the last thing on his mind.

The developments mean Levein has 22 players available for the Cardiff City Stadium clash on Friday night and the game in Brussels four days later.

Steven Naismith had previously dropped out of the squad after being handed a two-match FIFA ban for elbowing Serbia's Srdjan Mijailovic while Blackburn defender Grant Hanley pulled out on Monday with a groin strain.

Craig Levein to perform another U-turn by recalling Kris Commons

Calling Kris! Levein ready to perform another U-turn by bringing back Commons

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UPDATED:

21:42 GMT, 8 October 2012

Recall: Commons

Recall: Commons

Craig Levein is poised to make a second U-turn in the space of a week by recalling Kris Commons to Scotland’s World Cup squad for Friday night’s game against Wales in Cardiff – if Robert Snodgrass is ruled out because of an ankle injury.

Just seven days on from calling a truce with international refusenik Steven Fletcher, the national boss appears prepared to end the 18-month exile of Commons, consistently overlooked despite his blinding form for Champions League trailblazers Celtic.

The attacking midfielder, who went public to seek an answer for his exclusion last week, has not featured since withdrawing from the Carling Cup of Nations at the end of last season, leading to loud whispers about a fall-out with the manager.

Celtic boss Neil Lennon had also admitted to being baffled by the non-selection of free-scoring Commons, who is playing the best football of his career.

Although the Scotland boss had repeatedly said that Commons hadn’t done enough to merit inclusion ahead of his favoured band of attacking midfielders, the injury to Snodgrass has given him the chance to appease Tartan Army punters left bewildered by the absence of the SPL’s leading performer.

Scotland assistant manager Peter Houston revealed that the Celtic star – whose last cap came against Brazil in 2011 – was first in line should Snodgrass fail a fitness test.

Injury doubt: Snodgrass has picked up an ankle knock

Injury doubt: Snodgrass has picked up an ankle knock

Said Houston: ‘I think that’s probably fair to say because we were talking last night, in case Robert was to go out. And the manager spoke highly of Kris, saying that he was doing well and, if Snoddy didn’t make it, then he would be a possibility.

‘I don’t know 100 per cent but I would guess that Kris, whose form has been so good, would be up there if we bring in someone else – although there hasn’t been a call made to anybody yet.

‘Snodgrass has a sore ankle and was on the bench for Norwich’s game against Chelsea on Saturday, so he is probably a bit touch and go.

‘But we will monitor him over the next day or so and take it from there.

Top form: Commons has been scintillating for Celtic so far this season

Top form: Commons has been scintillating for Celtic so far this season

‘We normally rely on the doctors and physios to set a deadline.

‘We’ve spoken to Norwich and they didn’t seem too perturbed about Robert’s injury – but we have to go by the boy himself.

‘He will know whether or not his ankle is too sore.

‘He only joined up with the squad late last night and he will be working with the physios and doctors today.

‘But, if he is still the same tomorrow, then I think a decision has to be made – at least with regard to Friday’s game.

‘I don’t know the extent of his injury if we’re talking about him for next week’s game in Belgium – but Robert is saying it’s sore.’

Celtic 1 Hearts 0: Georgios Samaras fires Bhoys to the top of SPL

Celtic 1 Hearts 0: Samaras fires Bhoys to the top of the SPL

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UPDATED:

14:11 GMT, 7 October 2012

Georgios Samaras followed up his memorable midweek winner in Moscow with the only goal at Parkhead as Celtic beat Hearts to go top of the SPL.

The Greek forward drilled home in the 34th minute following a Kris Commons through-ball and Celtic comfortably saw out the win even if their performance failed to match the spark of their maiden Champions League away win on Tuesday.

Callum Paterson had missed a great chance to give Hearts the lead before Celtic lifted their game with Commons again at the heart of their best play.

Eye for goal: Samaras fires home Celtic's winner

Eye for goal: Samaras fires home Celtic's winner

MATCH FACTS

Celtic: Forster, Lustig (Miku 79), Ambrose, Wilson, Izaguirre, Forrest, Wanyama, Mulgrew (Ledley 32), Samaras, Commons, Hooper (Kayal 70).
Subs: Zaluska, Nouioui, McCourt, McGeouch.

Goal: Samaras 34.

Booking: Wilson.

Hearts: MacDonald (Enckelman 14), Ryan McGowan, Webster, Zaliukas, Grainger, Barr, Taouil, Stevenson, Driver, Novikovas (Robinson 74), Paterson (Sutton 53).
Subs not used: Gordon Smith, Dylan McGowan, McHattie, Carrick.

Bookings: Zaliukas, Driver.

Referee: Craig Thomson (Scotland)

Celtic, who were briefly knocked off
top spot by Hibernian, were flat at the start of the second half before
exerting some decent pressure in the final quarter.

Celtic were without Scott Brown, who
continues to battle a hip problem, and lost his Scotland team-mate
Charlie Mulgrew in the first half following an early collision with
Hearts goalkeeper Jamie MacDonald, who was carried off with a bad head
knock. Another player in the Scotland squad for the World Cup
double-header against Wales and Belgium, Andy Webster, was in the Hearts
team after a back injury.

MacDonald was on the park long enough
to force wide Mulgrew's shot after a brilliant first-time return pass
from Commons. But there were immediate signals he would be unable to
continue after he bravely attacked Emilio Izaguirre's cross to punch the
ball away from a crowd of players before Commons and James Forrest
failed to convert the loose ball.

The goalkeeper was taken off wearing a
neck brace to warm applause from around the stadium with Peter
Enckelman taking his place in the 13th minute. Mulgrew played on,
although only temporarily.

Celtic, wearing their new white
change strip with black shorts, initially found it difficult to break
down Hearts' solid formation and Paterson should have scored in the 25th
minute after Andrew Driver slid in to dispossess Kelvin Wilson as the
Celtic defender tried to shepherd the ball behind for a goal kick.
Driver laid the ball back but Paterson fired wide from 12 yards. The
teenager was stretching but he should have done better with the goal
gaping.

Battle: Celtic's Mikael Lustig clashes with Arvydas Novikovas

Battle: Celtic's Mikael Lustig clashes with Arvydas Novikovas

Celtic responded when Samaras met a Commons cross with a controlled first-time volley which hit the outside of the post.

Mulgrew left the field, apparently
concussed, and handed the captain's armband to Samaras, who took just
two minutes to embrace his new-found responsibility with the opener.
Commons was the provider with a pass with the outside of the foot into
the left channel and the Greece striker ran on to it and fired a
left-foot shot through the legs of Enckelman. Commons almost caught the
substitute goalkeeper out with a quick free-kick moments later but the
ball sailed just wide.

Hearts were still posing a threat
from long range – Driver saw a curler deflected wide with Fraser Forster
wrong-footed, Ryan Stevenson fired an effort just wide and the Celtic
goalkeeper tipped over Mehdi Taouil's powerful strike.

The champions came closer in the
sixth minute of injury-time after some sharp build-up play from all
their forward players that ended with Commons firing across the face of
goal and just beyond the post with Gary Hooper just too far away to
convert.

On the run: Celtic's Gary Hooper is chased by Mehdi Taouil

On the run: Celtic's Gary Hooper is chased by Mehdi Taouil

Hearts lost another player to injury
in the 52nd minute when John Sutton replaced Paterson, who had taken a
knock on the back of his leg.

The visitors were keeping Celtic in
their own half without creating any chances and Neil Lennon made a
change in the 70th minute, replacing Hooper with Beram Kayal and moving
to a 4-3-3. The tactical change immediately worked. Commons fired just
over the top corner after good skill in the box and Enckelman pushed
Izaguirre's strike past his near post after the left-back had nutmegged
Ryan McGowan.

Samaras headed over Commons' cross
from six yards and Enckelman saved from Forrest as the winger stumbled
on to a left-footed shot before palming away a Commons shot in
unorthodox fashion.

Samaras had another good chance in
injury-time but he failed to connect with substitute Miku's return ball
from close range and Celtic survived a last-gasp scare when Driver fired
an angled drive just wide.

Neil Lennon says Celtic are hitting form ahead of Spartak Moscow clash

Lennon believes Celtic are hitting form at just the right time for Spartak clash

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UPDATED:

16:15 GMT, 30 September 2012

Neil Lennon believes Celtic have hit the top of the Clydesdale Bank Premier League in perfect time for their Champions League clash with Spartak Moscow on Tuesday night.

The Hoops swept Motherwell away at Fir Park on Saturday to replace the Steelmen at the summit, thanks to a strike from in-form Gary Hooper and an own goal by the unfortunate Well defender Adam Cummins, who compounded a miserable afternoon when he was sent off after the break for a professional foul on Kris Commons.

Celtic could afford to have skipper Scott Brown's penalty saved by Darren Randolph and they were handed an added boost when Georgios Samaras returned for the first time since injuring his elbow on international duty early in September as a second-half substitute.

Delight: Celtic's Scott Brown after the own goal

Delight: Celtic's Scott Brown after the own goal

Lennon said: 'We have gone top of the league so going into the game on Tuesday, that is a good marker for us psychologically.

'We are starting to hit a bit of form which is great.

'The new lads are starting to settle in, we have players back and we will need them.

'We were very motivated going into the game and we picked Motherwell off very well at times.

'They found it a little bit difficult to adjust to the movement and we were able to get down the sides and round the back of them because we isolated their two centre-halves and some of the passing to get the boys in was very good, so overall it was a big performance.

'It was great to see Samaras back in full flow, and I thought Emilio Izaguirre was brilliant, he set a really good tempo and example and it augurs well but we know Tuesday is a different animal.

'We won't have anywhere near the bulk of possession or chances created but it is a huge confidence-booster going into that game.'

Form: Neil Lennon thinks Celtic have hit the top at the right time

Form: Neil Lennon thinks Celtic have hit the top at the right time

Any notions that Motherwell could be genuine contenders for the SPL title this season came to an abrupt end against a rampant Celtic side who could and should have scored more, notwithstanding the fact that the home side played most of the second half with 10 men.

Indeed, Fir Park manager Stuart McCall was pleased to escape without suffering a bigger drubbing.

'We wanted to do better but their movement was outstanding,' he said.

'We have a young side and there was a certain naivety, we squeezed too high.

'So it could have been more but one thing was, my players didn't chuck it.

'We said before the game that regardless of what the score was, they had to stick at it and they certainly did.'

St Johnstone 2 Celtic 1: Champions suffer shock defeat as Vine hits winner

St Johnstone 2 Celtic 1: Champions suffer shock defeat as Vine hits winner

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UPDATED:

14:32 GMT, 15 September 2012

Rowan Vine's first goal for St Johnstone gave the home side a shock Clydesdale Bank Premier League win over Celtic at McDiarmid Park.

Kris Commons drove the champions into the lead in the fourth minute but Saints striker Gregory Tade levelled in the 18th minute before the visitors were denied what looked a clear penalty when Steven Anderson challenged Commons inside the box.

But Celtic were well off the pace all afternoon and in the 80th minute they paid dearly when former QPR striker Vine curled the ball in from the edge of the penalty area to hand the Perth club their first win of the league campaign.

Pile on! St Johnstone celebrate Rowan Vine's winner over Celtic at McDiarmid Park

Pile on! St Johnstone celebrate Rowan Vine's winner over Celtic at McDiarmid Park

MATCH FACTS

St Johnstone: Mannus, Miller, Anderson, Wright, MacKay, Pawlett (Hasselbaink 78), Cregg, Murray Davidson (Millar 22), Craig, Vine (MacLean), Tade.

Subs not used: Tuffey, Caddis, Scobbie, Kane.

Booked: Anderson, Miller, Cregg, Craig

Goals: Tade 18, Vine 80

Celtic: Forster, Lustig, Wilson, Mulgrew, Izaguirre (Rogne 61), Forrest, Brown (Nouioui 79), Wanyama, Commons, Hooper, Miku (Watt 58).

Subs: Zaluska, Ibrahim, McGregor, Fraser.

Booked: Izaguirre, Mulgrew, Commons, Wanyama

Goal: Commons 4

Referee: Euan Norris

It was not the result or performance Neil Lennon was looking for ahead of their Champions League opener against Benfica at Parkhead on Wednesday night.

However, the result will delight St Johnstone manager Steve Lomas who had seven players down with a virus on Thursday, which led him to cancel training.

Despite the sickness, he was able to field the same side which drew 0-0 with Dundee United in their last outing, with Vine supporting Tade in attack.

Celtic's new Venezuelan signing Miku was handed his debut while Lennon's other new outfield recruit, Lassad, started on the bench.

Skipper Scott Brown shrugged off an ongoing hip problem to return to the midfield, with Charlie Mulgrew back in defence after recovering from an Achilles injury.

It looked like it was going to be a stroll in the sunshine when Hooper set up Commons 20 yards from goal and watched as the Scotland midfielder drilled a shot low past Alan Mannus and into the far corner of the net.

In the seventh minute, with Celtic in command, Commons had another effort from a similar distance but this time Mannus clutched the ball comfortably.

The Parkhead side then relaxed their grip, allowing Saints back into the game.

After Mulgrew was penalised 25 yards from goal for going through the back of Tade, Celtic goalkeeper Fraser Forster had to dive high to his right to prevent Dave Mackay's free-kick dipping in under the bar.

Leveller: Gregory Tade (centre) scored St Johnstone's equaliser against Celtic

Leveller: Gregory Tade (centre) scored St Johnstone's equaliser against Celtic

Just dance! Tade and team-mate Nigel Hasselbaink celebrate the former's strike

Just dance! Tade and team-mate Nigel Hasselbaink celebrate the former's strike

Hooper and Victor Wanyama had shots which flew wide of the target, but in the 15th minute Celtic defender Kelvin Wilson had to throw himself to block a goal-bound shot from Peter Pawlett. The Saints wide-man had cleverly worked a one-two with Murray Davidson before driving into the visitors' box.

Three minutes later Wilson was less vigilant, as was Mulgrew, when Vine played the ball into Tade, who turned and drove low past Forster from the edge of the box.

There was controversy in the 26th minute when Anderson, chasing his own header to Mannus which was short, tackled Commons inside the box without getting the ball but referee Euan Norris turned a deaf ear to a vociferous and valid penalty claim.

Just after the half-hour mark Miku drove high over the bar from the edge of the box when he had the chance of debut glory.

Winner: Vine peels away in celebration after scoring the crucial goal for St Johnstone

Winner: Vine peels away in celebration after scoring the crucial goal for St Johnstone

However, a minute before the break Pawlett missed a much better opportunity when he put the ball over the bar from 10 yards after being set up by Tade.

St Johnstone midfielder Liam Craig had a decent chance five minutes into the second half when he was played in by Mackay but his drive from 16 yards sailed over the bar.

Lennon refreshed his side in the 58th minute by bringing on teenage striker Tony Watt for Miku but seconds later it was Commons who went close to restoring Celtic's lead with a powerful 30-yard drive which just cleared the bar.

Defender Thomas Rogne then replaced Emilio Izaguirre, booked moments earlier for a foul on Pawlett, before there was a penalty claim for the home side when Mulgrew, who had moved to left-back, knocked Pawlett off the ball in the box.

Come on lads! Celtic boss Neil Lennon calls on his side to make an effort at St Johnstone

Come on lads! Celtic boss Neil Lennon calls on his side to make an effort at St Johnstone

Celtic began to enjoy more possession and in the 65th minute Mulgrew, with a delightful pass, set up Commons who squared the ball to Hooper but his shot was blocked by Mannus who eventually smothered.

The game stretched further with Tade's power and strength proving a handful for the Hoops defence while Celtic's passing game was too erratic for the liking of Lennon.

Nigel Hasselbaink replaced Pawlett in the 77th minute before Lassad came on to make his debut at the expense of Brown.

It was the home side's substitution which paid off when Hasselbaink played the ball to Vine who neatly stepped away from Rogne before curling a wonderful shot past Forster and into the far corner.

Celtic's response was predictable but Mannus made a point-blank save from Watt in injury-time to ensure an unlikely but welcome win for the home side.