Celtic claim crucial win
McGeady's goal beats Benfica
Last Updated: November 6, 2007 11:23pm
McGeady: Scored winner
Celtic claimed a crucial three points with a 1-0 victory over Benfica to lift themselves off the bottom of Group D.
The goal which separated the teams came just before half-time when Benfica's captain Luisao unluckily deflected in an Aiden McGeady shot.
Both teams had a host of chances in an open and entertaining game, with the best Celtic opportunity falling to John Kennedy in the ninth minute, but he headed wide with a free header when it would have been easier to score.
Benfica should have been level in the 62nd minute when Oscar Cardozo headed wide from point-blank range with a free header.
Gilles Binya deservedly received a straight red card for a nasty stamp on Scott Brown's lower right leg in the 85th minute.
The best of the early chances fell to Benfica, with Maxi Pereira firing just over from 12 yards with an opportune effort in the opening minutes before Celtic goalkeeper Artur Boruc was called into action to make an excellent save to deny a point-blank shot from Cardozo after being teed up by Cristian Rodriguez.
A set-piece provided the home side with their first real opportunity when McGeady was hauled down by Rui Costa 25 yards out.
Paul Hartley floated the free-kick into the packed goalmouth only for Kennedy to nod agonisingly wide of the upright.
Cardozo - the man who proved to be the difference between the two sides last time - was proving to be a handful yet again and this time his effort fizzed just past the post with the help of Boruc's fingertips.
Not to be outdone, Benfica goalkeeper Quim then produced an impressive save of his own to block a thunderous long-range shot from Brown, before denying Scott McDonald as Celtic cranked up the pressure.
Brown then squandered a great chance when he swiped at fresh air instead of the ball in front of goal as the Benfica defence failed to clear their lines. McDonald then had another go with a ferocious right-foot shot and, this time, Quim cleared the danger with his feet.
A foolish Gary Caldwell challenge on Rodriguez just outside the area could have gifted Benfica the lead shortly before the break but Konstantinos Katsouranis played the free-kick short to Rui Costa and he blasted well wide.
Instead it was Celtic who claimed the opener on the stroke of half-time. Jiri Jarosik swept the ball into the path of McGeady 25 yards out and his superb shot took a deflection off Luisao and into the back of the net.
Benfica were clearly desperate to haul themselves back into the game and Rui Costa tried his luck shortly after the restart but Boruc was up to the task and comfortably smothered, before collecting a shot from the right from Lius Felipe.
Cardozo squandered the chance to haul them level when he rose above everyone else in the box to meet a Leo cross only to nod wide from all of six yards.
Celtic survived a scare when Lee Naylor hooked an Edcarlos header off the line, before passing up a great chance to all but put the game beyond Benfica.
With only the keeper to beat, Brown saw his powerful shot parried before nodding over the crossbar from the rebound.
Cardozo had another couple of attempts on goal before being replaced by Nuno Gomes, while Gonzalo Bergessio took the place of Rui Costa as Benfica went for broke.
However, their hopes of a comeback suffered a blow when Binya earned a straight red card with five minutes to go for a shocking challenge on Brown - who limped off for Evander Sno - as Celtic held on for three precious points.
|1||1st Half Goals||0|
|7||Shots on Target||4|
|6||Shots off Target||7|
UEFA Champions League
Tue 6th Nov - Group C
Olympiakos0 - 0R Madrid
Lazio2 - 1W Bremen
Tue 6th Nov - Group A
Liverpool8 - 0Besiktas
FC Porto2 - 1Marseille
Tue 6th Nov - Group B
Schalke0 - 0Chelsea
Valencia0 - 2Rosenborg
Tue 6th Nov - Group D
Shak Donetsk0 - 3AC Milan
Celtic1 - 0Benfica
UEFA Champions League Group A
|1||Paris St Germain||6||15|
UEFA Champions League Group B
UEFA Champions League Group C
|3||Zenit St. Petersburg||6||7|
UEFA Champions League Group D
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UEFA Champions League Group H