Tag Archives: spartak

Wigan agree 5m fee with Spartak Moscow for Republic of Ireland winger McGeady

Wigan agree 5m fee with Spartak Moscow for Republic of Ireland winger McGeady

By
John Drayton

PUBLISHED:

07:34 GMT, 31 January 2013

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UPDATED:

08:18 GMT, 31 January 2013

Back to Britain: McGeady is set to return

Back to Britain: McGeady is set to return

Wigan manager Roberto Martinez is hoping to push through a late 5million move for Republic of Ireland winger Aiden McGeady.

Sportsmail revealed last week that the Latics were looking to bring in McGeady on loan from Spartak Moscow, but now the Daily Mirror are reporting that the two clubs have agreed a fee for a permanent deal.

McGeady will have to take a pay cut from the 70,000-a-week wage he earns in the Russian capital, but the former Celtic man is thought to be keen on a move back to Britain.

The 26-year-old has 18 months left on his contract at Spartak and the
club are ready to cash in on the man they paid for 9.5m for back in August 2010.

High hopes: McGeady cost Spartak 9.5m back in August 2010

High hopes: McGeady cost Spartak 9.5m back in August 2010

McGeady, who has 57 caps for his country, is wanted by Martinez to help Wigan's survival bid and it is thought the Spaniard has beaten Sunderland to his signature.

Liverpool loan move for David Villa rejected by Barcelona

Cough up if you want Villa! Bold Liverpool loan move rejected as Barca hold out for 16m

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UPDATED:

13:34 GMT, 31 December 2012

Liverpool have been rebuffed in a bold attempt to take Barcelona striker David Villa on loan.

The 31-year-old is frustrated at the Nou Camp due to his lack of game time and is keen to come to England.

However, Barcelona will not entertain the idea of letting the Spain international go out on loan and will only consider a bumper transfer offer to sell in this window.

Hotshot: But David Villa has found opportunities hard to come by at Barca this term

Hotshot: David Villa has found opportunities hard to come by at Barca this term but his goalscoring record with both the Catalan giants and Spain is exceptional

David Villa

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers has already agreed a deal with Chelsea for Daniel Sturridge and is advanced with talks over a move for Thomas Ince. However, that deal has dragged because Blackpool want 6million for a player they bought from Liverpool for 250,000 18 months ago.

Villa was seen as a player of quality and experience who could share the burden with Luis Suarez and fit into Rodgers' ideal 4-3-3 formation having also played on the left for Barcelona and Spain.

Brendan Rodgers

Lone furrow: Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers (above) is in the market to
bring in some support up front for Luis Suarez (below), despite his two goals against QPR

Luis Suarez

The move would have been an exception to Liverpool's normal guidelines with the club reluctant to bring in players who are over the age of 24.

Arsenal were interested in Villa but are reluctant to become embroiled in another bidding war with Barcelona having been told the price would be at least 16m.

Chelsea have been sounded out also but Rafa Benitez is unlikely to move for Villa with other options still ahead of him, despite the breakdown in the move for Demba Ba.

Villa has made 17 appearances for Barca this season and scored five goals. However, he would also be cup-tied in Europe having figured against Spartak Moscow, Celtic and Benfica in the Champions League.

Michel Platini says Celtic are going out of the Champions League

The Bhoys are going out! Platini says Celtic have no chance of beating Juventus to progress in Champions League

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UPDATED:

14:50 GMT, 29 December 2012

Michel Platini has written off any chances Celtic may have of Champions League progress.

The UEFA president told delegates at the Globe Soccer Awards in Dubai that Neil Lennon’s next opposition – Serie A leaders Juventus – are guaranteed to be in the quarter-finals.

‘If we look at the Champions League draw, it’s clear that Juventus are already through to the quarter finals,’ the Frenchman said.

You're out! Michel Platini believes Celtic have no chance in the Champions League

You're out! Michel Platini believes Celtic have no chance in the Champions League

The Hoops have had a sensational run in the European competition so far, miraculously giant-killing both Barcelona and Spartak Moscow to earn a place in the last 16.

The Turin side, meanwhile, will be without defender Giorgio Chiellini for the double header.

Platini won six titles as an attacking midfielder, including the European Cup in 1985 and two Scuddetti.

All smiles: Tony Watt scored the second goal against Barcelona at Parkhead

All smiles: Tony Watt scored the second goal against Barcelona at Parkhead

The son of Italian ancestry, Platini’s father was an immigrant from Agrate Conturbia in the province of Novara, and the football chief has long-standing affection for Italian football.

‘Of course, Juve has always been and will always be the team of my heart, where among other things, I won everything at club level.

‘I have been very fortunate in football. I played in the strongest teams for both Nancy and Saint-Etienne, and finally in Juventus, which is the strongest team in the world.’

Dundee 0 Celtic 2: Samaras stunner sends Bhoys seven points clear at top

Dundee 0 Celtic 2: Samaras stunner sends Bhoys seven points clear at top

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UPDATED:

23:25 GMT, 26 December 2012

Temporarily freed from the heavy
demands of European football, Celtic are now beginning to fly. Not quite
yet a speck on the horizon as far as the rest of the SPL are concerned
but, to all intents and purposes, already safely out of reach.

For long enough, those titanic
tussles with Barcelona, Benfica and Spartak Moscow proved so taxing that
they left Neil Lennon’s men breathless and leggy for domestic duties.
Not now. Not since Spartak were dispatched earlier this month.

Spectacular: Georgios Samaras (left) puts Celtic ahead

Spectacular: Georgios Samaras (left) puts Celtic ahead

Match facts

Dundee: Douglas, Irvine,Lockwood, Benedictus, Gallagher, McAlister, O'Donnell (Boyle 83), McBride, Conroy, John Baird (Stewart 74), Nish. Subs Not Used: Alex Baird, McGregor, Easton, Reid.

Booked: Benedictus.

Celtic: Forster, Ambrose, Wilson, Mulgrew (Lustig 46), Izaguirre, Wanyama, Brown, Kayal (Forrest 60), Hooper, Samaras, Watt (McCourt 79). Subs Not Used: Zaluska, Miku, Nouioui, Rogne.

Booked: Hooper.

Goals: Samaras 16, Hooper 71.

Att: 9,276

Ref: Iain Brines (Scotland).

This was Celtic’s fourth straight win in the SPL since the Russians were put to the sword — with Hearts having been beatean prior to that European clash — and few would bet against the half dozen being racked up by the time the winter break arrives in a week’s time.

They made short work of their first trip to Dens on league business in eight years, goals from Georgios Samaras and Gary Hooper sending them seven points ahead of second-placed Inverness with a game in hand.

What is now a sizeable gap may quickly become a chasm. The expected script for the season is now being adhered to, albeit after a slight deviation from the plot.

The only possible blip for Celtic last night was an apparent elbow from Kelvin Wilson on Dundee’s diminutive striker John Baird as they chased the ball in the first half.

Referee Iain Brines missed the incident and, while the SFA may look at retrospective action, the height difference between the players may save the Parkhead defender from punishment.

Dundee have occasionally threatened to thumb their noses at what many believe to be the inevitable this season, but they are still down among the dead men in 12th place. What an effort it is going to require if they are to dig themselves out of this hole.

All pile on: Celtic celebrate Samaras strike

All pile on: Celtic celebrate Samaras strike

Losing to the Scottish champions was
not, in itself, a hammer blow last night but the points gained earlier
in the day by St Mirren and Ross Country were. Now nine adrift, Barry
Smith’s men will soon be looking for snookers.

The days of chopping and changing appear to be at an end for Celtic.
With the exception of Tony Watt’s introduction at the expense of Lassad,
Lennon stood by the men who dismantled Ross County last Saturday.

The only hint of experimentation was the 4-3-1-2 formation — with Hooper the link man between Watt and Samaras.

For Dens boss Smith, there are no such distractions in his battle to
survive in the elite division. Occasionally, some semi-desperate
measures are required and, with Nicky Riley absent through injury, he
was forced to throw in Stephen O’Donnell for his first start since
August.

O’Donnell was in the thick of it from the off, however. When Emilio
Izaguirre made a hash of a clearance, he seized possession on the edge
of the box and ignored the close attention of Charlie Mulgrew to drive
narrowly over.

Izaguirre redeemed himself further up the field with a peach of a cross
to tee up Watt. His volley forced veteran goalkeeper Robert Douglas to
paw the ball the ball away for a corner. With that, Celtic sparked into
life.

From Mulgrew’s corner, Efe Ambrose thundered a volley off the underside
of the bar. Victor Wanyama failed to control the rebound and fired
wildly over.

Hooper’s low strike then flashed a foot wide of the upright, but it
seemed that the first goal was becoming a matter of when, rather than
if.

Super: Gary Hooper lobs the ball over Rab Douglas to put Celtic 2-0 in front

Super: Gary Hooper lobs the ball over Rab Douglas to put Celtic 2-0 in front

Mulgrew’s consistency in delivering from set-pieces is one of the main
weapons in Celtic’s arsenal and last night his ability to land the ball
on a sixpence was a source of torment for the Dens men.

On 16 minutes, he arched his left foot around the ball and picked out
Watt with another heat-seeking missile. Douglas beat away the teenager’s
volley but with insufficient strength to clear the danger. With his
back to goal, Samaras caught the ball cleanly and found the back of the
net with a textbook bicycle kick despite the best efforts of Jim
McAlister on the line.

Were it not for Douglas, Celtic would have had the issue as good as
settled inside 22 minutes. Taking a pass from Samaras, Beram Kayal
bounded towards goal but slipped the Greek back in when he hit the edge
of the box. Samaras’s curling shot looked bound for the far post all the
way until the keeper extended an arm to flick the ball round the post.

Dundee just could not get out in the first half. Each time they looked
up, they were suffocated by a swarm of white shirts. Smith had bravely
opted to play two up front in Colin Nish and Baird to try to stretch the
game, but his pairing were starved of service and his midfield
over-run.

And Nish seemed taken by surprise when Dundee’s best chance of the
evening was put on a plate for him five minutes into the second half.
Ryan Conroy’s cross from the left was top drawer, as was Fraser
Forster’s reaction, but the lumbering striker ought to have given the
Celtic keeper no chance with his header from five yards.

With Nish playing deeper, Dundee improved. Kevin McBride worried Forster
with a low drive then Baird’s shot flew narrowly over after catching
Izaguirre’s shoulder.

Mikael Lustig had replaced Mulgrew at the break and, when James Forrest
stepped on to the turf to replace Kayal after an hour, Celtic’s
freshness down the right was eye-catching.

Their second goal stemmed from there, the ever-improving Lustig picking
out Hooper with a sweet ball over the top. The Englishman saw Douglas
half-a-yard off his line and embarrassed the former Celtic keeper with
an inch-perfect lob.

Coming just seconds after the former Scunthorpe man traded bookings with
Kyle Benedictus for squaring up, it was a sweet moment for the striker.

Dundee’s hopes of staging a comeback died when Forster backtracked to tip Nish’s header over the top with time running out.

The Dark Blues stuck with it and will take something from remaining in
the contest for so long. They know days like these won’t define the rest
of their season, but they can ill-afford to be cut further adrift.

For Celtic, the winter break suddenly looks like it’s coming at the wrong time.

Neil Lennon relishing Celtic v Juventus in Champions League

Lennon looks back on Juve thriller as Celtic draw Italian giants in Champions League

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UPDATED:

12:32 GMT, 20 December 2012

The draw for the Champions League has brought back fond memories for Celtic boss Neil Lennon after pairing the Hoops with Juventus.

Lennon played against the Italian giants twice in 2001-02 but it is the home game at Celtic Park he will look to draw inspiration from.

Martin O'Neill's side won a thrilling match 4-3 and Lennon, after the draw for this season's last 16 set him up for the first leg at home in February, tweeted: 'Boooooom…..absolute beauty of a tie…very tough but then they all potentially were..brings back great memories.'

Bring it on: Neil Lennon (right) watches the Champions League draw with Garry Parker (left) and Danny McGrain

Bring it on: Neil Lennon (right) watches the Champions League draw with Garry Parker (left) and Danny McGrain

That night over a decade ago was a glorious failure for the Scottish side as they just failed to qualify from their group, but it was another European cracker at Celtic Park.

The SPL leaders qualified behind Barcelona, unbeaten at home after drawing with Benfica and seeing off the Catalans and Spartak Moscow.

Hoops dreams: Chris Sutton (2nd left) scored twice as Celtic beat Juventus 4-3 in Glasgow in 2001

Hoops dreams: Chris Sutton (2nd left) scored twice as Celtic beat Juventus 4-3 in Glasgow in 2001

Lennon said: 'The home game is pivotal. We’ll have to take some sort of advantage to Turin. Celtic Park is a very special arena and I’m sure the fans will raise the roof again.

'In terms of glamour it's a beauty. Juventus are one of the great traditional European teams. They're current Italian champions and finished the group stage very strongly. So in terms of glamour it's great, in terms of qualification it is going to very tough, but it could have been any of the other teams and it would have been just as tough.

No fear: Celtic got the better of Barcelona in Glasgow during the group stage of the Champions League

No fear: Celtic got the better of Barcelona in Glasgow during the group stage of the Champions League

'We believe over two games anything is possible. Juventus are littered with world-class stars and have been very consistent over the last 18 months and have got a great winning mentality, but so have we.

'To come through the group as impressively as we did, you just never know where you'll be in a month or two's time in terms of fitness and form.'

John Greechan – chief sports writer at the Scottish Daily Mail says…

This is a draw suffused with history and laden with potential.

Neil Lennon’s memories of playing against Juve 11 years ago – when a blatant dive by Nicola Amoruso saw Celtic robbed in Turin, then a remarkably dramatic 4-3 win back in Glasgow couldn’t prevent elimination in the group stages – will certainly drive the manager on.

Believe it or not, Lennon cheekily quizzed legendary Juve boss Marcello Lippi about that infamous Amoruso tumble when the Italian was delivering a Hampden lecture recently; the Irishman is not one to forgive and forget.

But this draw is as much about the present as the past. And what an opportunity this presents for a Celtic team to test themselves against one of the most glamorous clubs in the game, the current Serie A champions and leaders.

Veteran midfield magician Andrea Pirlo, who apparently has covered more ground than any other player in the Champions League this season, up against monstrous man mountain Victor Wanyama – plus the terrier-like Scott Brown – stands out as a key confrontation already.

England goalkeeper Fraser Forster’s boyhood hero was Gigi Buffon, so the big Geordie was grinning from ear to ear after the draw, which left the Celtic squad dreaming of making their own history.

Watch video highlights of Celtic 4 Juventus 3

Celtic reaching Champions League last 16 is on par with 2003 UEFA Cup final, says Johan Mjallby

The spirit of Seville: Mjallby proud of Celtic stars for matching the class of 2003

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UPDATED:

00:00 GMT, 20 December 2012

Johan Mjallby placed the achievement of qualifying for the last 16 of the Champions League on a par with reaching the UEFA Cup Final in 2003.

Celtic will discover which one of the seven sides they will face in next year’s knockout stages when the draw is made in Nyon at 10.30.

The German trio of Borussia Dortmund, Bayern Munich and Schalke are joined by Manchester United, Paris St Germain, Malaga and Juventus as the Scottish champions’ potential opponents.

Mjallby and Neil Lennon were pillars of Martin O’Neill’s side which tried, but failed, to make it out of the group stage, yet which managed to go all the way to Seville.

They're just champion: Johan Mjallby - pictured presenting a donation to Yorkhill Hospital - says it's as good as 2003

They're just champion: Johan Mjallby – pictured presenting a donation to Yorkhill Hospital – says it's as good as 2003

And the Swede feels that in successfully hurdling two qualifiers before eliminating Benfica and Spartak Moscow and beating Barcelona, the class of 2012-13 can take pride of place alongside the team of 10 years ago.

Asked if this year’s campaign was already as good as that of 2003, the Celtic assistant manager said: ‘Yes, it is for me personally. Seville, that was the biggest disappointment as well, because if you are in a final there’s only two teams left.

‘But it was maybe the biggest achievement in a way, as we beat a lot of good teams on the way.

‘When I came back here three years ago, obviously I wasn’t too sure that I would be sitting here with a chance to play the last 16 of the Champions League.

‘It’s been great having that chance and I think we have improved a lot of the players as well; that’s a part of management and what you want to do.

‘It’s something we are really happy with.

‘We are so proud of the players and it is one of the greatest achievements that I have been involved in to make it to the last 16.

‘You are usually only happy when you win things, win titles — but the Champions League is the Champions League.

‘Usually, money talks, and that is why we are really happy. The team I played in had better financial resources than this team.’

Magic moment: Kris Commons rifles home the penalty which sealed Celtic's progression

Magic moment: Kris Commons rifles home the penalty which sealed Celtic's progression

Celtic’s run this season has made players like Gary Hooper and Victor Wanyama household names around the continent. And Mjallby feels that watching such players develop and thrive under the most intense scrutiny football has to offer has been every bit as satisfying as the results.

‘We didn’t know when we started this adventure if we were good enough to play without the ball,’ he added.

‘It’s always going to be different playing in Europe; a lot of teams are very good at keeping the ball and we have to give up a lot of possession to other teams. When you’re not used to it, you don’t know.

‘Yes, we played in the Europa League last season but the Champions League is a step up — and these teams are even better.

‘We didn’t really know if we had the capabilities to defend as a team without the ball for long spells, but I think we have taken a lot of confidence from it — and we have shown that we can do it.

‘You have to remember that we have scored quite a few goals as well and, apart from the Benfica game, we have looked quite dangerous on the counter-attack.

‘It’s great that we can maybe change the style of play now and again and, if you have that in your back pocket, it will stand you in good stead.’

Tough to take: Mjallby (right), Henrik Larssen and Ulrik Laursen reflect on a painful defeat in Seville

Tough to take: Mjallby (right), Henrik Larssen and Ulrik Laursen reflect on a painful defeat in Seville

Celtic will be at home first on either February 12, 13, 19 or 20 before playing the second leg away from home on March 5, 6, 12 or 13 and Mjallby admits there are some sides he would relish playing more than others.

‘The ones I would rather not get are Bayern Munich, Borussia Dortmund and Manchester United — you have to remember they’re top of the Barclays Premier League, one of the hardest leagues in the world,’ he added.

‘You can say maybe from the glamour point of view it would be a nice to get Manchester United, but you have to remember they are a great team who always play in the Champions League and do well. So that would be very hard.

‘PSG would be hard, too. They have spent so much money. And Juventus.

‘Probably Schalke and Malaga are the two, on paper, who might seem the best to get.

‘But the good thing for us is that, whoever we get, we are not going to be the favourites. The pressure will be more on the other team.

‘I think it is easy now and then to be the underdog. Usually when we play domestically in Scotland we won’t be underdogs, so it’s a bit different.

‘I think our support accepts that we might not have the ball all the time, but we have taken a lot of confidence.’

Lennon: I will not be bullied by Manchester United or Liverpool to sell Victor Wanyama or Gary Hooper

Lennon: I will not be bullied by Man United or Liverpool to sell Wanyama or Hooper

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UPDATED:

01:08 GMT, 14 December 2012

Neil Lennon expects to have the final
say on any bids for his players next month and insists Celtic will not
be bullied by wealthy English predators.

The Parkhead boss is well aware that
his side's achievements in the Champions League have attracted the
interest of some leading Premiership clubs. Liverpool and Southampton
have been linked with moves for Gary Hooper, while Victor Wanyama
continues to feature high on Manchester United's wanted list.

Impressive: Victor Wanyama

Impressive: Victor Wanyama

Lennon, though, remains adamant it would take an 'astronomical' offer for Celtic to part with one of their prize assets during the January transfer window while they chase success in four competitions.

And the manager believes it should be down to him – rather than the board – to make the decisive call about whether any cash put forward is acceptable.

'As I have said before, everyone has their price and I think I will have a say in the decision if a huge bid comes in for any of the players,' said Lennon.

'But I don't want them to go. I want them to see this season out anyway and make a real fist of the competitions. There are not many teams still going on four fronts – including the Champions League – with half the season gone.

'Will I have the final say I'd like to think so, yeah.

'At the time when Aiden McGeady was going (to Spartak Moscow for 9.5million in 2010), I felt it was good business.

Warning: Celtic manager Neil Lennon

Warning: Celtic manager Neil Lennon

'It was a good offer and something where we could use the money on the team. We are now in a totally different scenario. We don't need to sell.

'It could be the case that I don't want to stand in the way of a player going to one of the bigger clubs. But I hope I don't have to face that scenario.'

Lennon is confident Celtic are close to agreeing a new contract with Hooper, whose current deal expires in the summer of 2014, while talks also remain on-going with Wanyama's agent.

If there is no conclusion to those discussions in the coming weeks, it could persuade English suitors to test Celtic's resolve with take-it-or-leave-it bids just as the January window is about to close.

Lennon, though, is adamant that tactic would not work as it would leave little time for the club to invest the money recouped.

'If it's the last day of the window, then it's too late,' added Lennon.

'I wouldn't have time (to replace the players) and you've all month to put a bid in. It does happen, but it will not happen here – not to any of our major players anyway.' Lennon would be comfortable to see out the season with his current squad but is in the market for left-sided reinforcements next month.

He also confirmed Celtic are keen on pursuing a deal for US international striker Juan Agudelo, who impressed during a recent training period with the champions.

The 19-year-old, who became his country's youngest-ever goalscorer aged 17, is currently with MLS side Chivas USA.

Liverpool want Georgios Samaras from Celtic

Liverpool plot 5m swoop for Samaras after hjs Champions League heroics

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UPDATED:

12:18 GMT, 8 December 2012

Liverpool are planning to make a 5million swoop for Celtic striker Georgios Samaras.

The Greece international has impressed during the Scottish side's run to the last 16 of the Champions League, scoring against Barcelona, Benfica and Spartak Moscow.

And Anfield boss Brendan Rodgers sees him as the solution to his attacking problems, with only Luis Suarez proving potent up front.

Target: Georgios Samaras is wanted by Liverpool in a 5m deal

Target: Georgios Samaras is wanted by Liverpool in a 5m deal

Samaras had a spell with Manchester City earlier in his career but scored just 12 goals in 65 appearances.

He is under contract at Celtic until 2014 but is eager to prove himself in the Premier League, according to The Sun.

Rodgers is also expected to launch a January bid for Chelsea frontman Daniel Sturridge.

The ex-Swansea boss is so stretched for strikers that Jonjo Shelvey will lead the line against West Ham tomorrow.

Leading the line: Jonjo Shelvey will be Liverpool's main attacking option

Leading the line: Jonjo Shelvey will be Liverpool's main attacking option

Rodgers has been a huge advocate
of the 20-year-old since he became Liverpool manager and is adamant that
his side have enough threat to cope with the enforced absence of
Suarez.

‘I saw an
interesting stat that we have had 15 different goalscorers this season,’
said Rodgers, who will also be able to call on Steven Gerrard after he
missed the midweek trip to Italy with sickness.

‘We
are only three goalscorers behind the record for the club in a season,
which is 18. There are goals there. Jonjo is an attack-minded player, he
has an instinct for a goal, and we have worked that way before.’

The secret of Celtic glory? Smells like team spirit

The secret of Celtic glory Smells like team spirit

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UPDATED:

01:15 GMT, 7 December 2012

It is easy to get carried away with
Celtic. The history, the colour, the noise, the spectacle, all of this
acts like a magnetic force on our attention, on major European nights in
particular. Celtic Park can be an inspiration and it was once again
uplifting on Wednesday.

But at the core of the celebrated
club must always be a football team and if that seems a very basic
requirement, what Neil Lennon has assembled at Celtic is a proper team.

Get in: Neil Lennon punches the air after Celtic progressed to the next round of the Champions League

Get in: Neil Lennon punches the air after Celtic progressed to the next round of the Champions League

One definition of a real manager and a real team is that the collective is greater than the sum of the individual parts. Less is made more.

Celtic have done this, they have become a coherent unit one year on from being 3-0 down at Kilmarnock with Lennon fretting about his future. He did not look like the coming man he appears to be today. But the 41-year-old has grown; his team have grown.

In terms of maturity there is a comparison to be made with Borussia Dortmund, who finished bottom of their group a year ago with four points. At the same time Celtic were third in their Europa League group. Both are young teams.

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

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

Hard work and a team ethic sounds too
simple an explanation for progress, but there is genius in simplicity.
So when the question is asked: how did Celtic make it out of a tough
Champions League group when clubs of superior resources, such as
Manchester City and Chelsea, did not, a significant slice of the answer
is that Celtic are a team in a way that City and Chelsea have not been.

It is understandable to dwell on the wealth gap. Celtic’s most costly
player in their starting XI on Wednesday against Spartak Moscow was
Scott Brown, who cost 4.4million from Hibs five years ago.
Alongside him were scorers Gary Hooper (Scunthorpe, 1.6m) and Kris
Commons (Derby, 300,000).

Celtic’s starting XI against Spartak cost 13m, which amounts to a couple of annual salaries at Chelsea and City.

Another comparison that flatters Lennon and his club was the sight of
Aiden McGeady entering the pitch as a Spartak substitute. Celtic sold
McGeady to Moscow for 10m — which is 4m more than Celtic have ever
spent on a player.

And McGeady was by no means Spartak’s only recent recruit. Emmanuel
Emenike, who set up Spartak’s equaliser, cost 9m. The wages in Moscow
far exceed those in Scotland.

Anything can happen: Lennon believes his Celtic boys can go deep in the competition

Anything can happen: Lennon believes his Celtic boys can go deep in the competition

Another comparison is the TV money which clubs receive. Celtic’s cut
last year was around 2m, whereas Wolves, bottom of the Premier League
and relegated, received 39m.

Man City got 60.6m from the televising of the Premier League, Chelsea
54.4m, and it was felt that those two clubs capturing respectively the
League title and European Cup marked the utter triumph of vast wealth.

It has not turned out that way, which is a warning to Celtic. A year
from now, things could be different. But Celtic are not complacent. A
measure of their daily economic reality was seen and heard in the Jock
Stein Lounge on Tuesday. There Lennon talked about the financial rewards
gained before Wednesday’s victory as saving jobs at the stadium.

‘To
have this revenue when a lot of people at this club were worried about
their jobs is great,’ he said. ‘Everyone in Scotland is downsizing and
we are no different.’

Lennon was pressed on the January window and talked about getting
players such as Victor Wanyama and Hooper on to better contracts.

And buying players ‘Possibly. But I don’t want to change it too much. I
don’t want to spend mega-money on one player because that will only
disrupt the spirit here.’

Lennon did not overplay the spirit line. He was restrained. But he knows
this is over-achieving and he knows it is being noticed. ‘I think this
might change the opinion or the view of Scottish teams,’ he added,
‘particularly Celtic.’

Contract trouble: Gary Hooper might not sign a new deal

Contract trouble: Gary Hooper might not sign a new deal

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.'