Samaras ends Celtic's long quest for a victory on the road


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The Independent Online

Georgios Samaras's last-gasp header gave Celtic a dramatic Champions League Group G victory over 10-man Spartak Moscow in the Luzhniki Stadium last night.

Neil Lennon's men recorded a first away win in the group stages of the Champions League for the Parkhead club and a first victory in Europe's premier club competition since beating Irish side Shamrock Rovers in 1986.

Celtic striker Gary Hooper gave the visitors the lead in the 12th minute before Nigerian forward Emmanuel Emenike netted twice for the Russian club, once either side of the break.

Spartak defender Juan Insaurralde was sent off just after the hour mark for preventing Hooper from going clean through on goal.

Celtic levelled in the 72nd minute after a drive from substitute James Forrest, who had replaced Victor Wanyama, deflected in off Spartak captain Dmitri Kombarov, and to cap a remarkable night for the visitors Samaras headed in an Emilio Izaguirre cross seconds after the regulation 90 minutes.

Celtic now face a double-header against section favourites Barcelona and must go into both games with confidence. The Parkhead men had drawn 1-1 with Spartak on their artificial turf in a Champions League play-off game in 2007 but this time they went one better and it was Samaras who came up with the goods.

There was little surprise when the Greece striker returned to the Celtic starting XI, with Forrest taking his place on the bench.

The Hoops striker, a favourite of Lennon, made a substitute appearance in the 2-0 Scottish Premier League win over Motherwell on Saturday after recovering from an elbow injury.

And with the game in added time, Samaras rose to head Izaguirre's cross into the far corner of the net to leave Celtic in a good position ahead of the meetings with Barcelona.