Football: Vairelles knocks the heart out of Celtic

Parkhead Celtic 0 Lyon 1 Lyon win 2-0 on aggregate

CELTIC MEEKLY slid out of European competition yet again last night as they failed to break the cycle which has tarnished the club's once-proud reputation. It came as little surprise when Lyon booked their place in the third round of the Uefa Cup, for only once in the last 20 years have Celtic gone past the second round in any European competition.

A 17th-minute goal by Tony Vairelles ensured that there would be little chance of the 54,291 crowd seeing any heroics. In truth, Celtic's hopes had ended when Henrik Larsson broke his leg in France a fortnight ago.

The signs were ominous for Celtic as early as the sixth minute, when Patrice Carteron powered in a header from Philippe Violeau's corner and Jonathan Gould was forced into an acrobatic parry to prevent Lyon doubling their agggregate lead. Eleven minutes later, however, the French side did just that and this time Gould received little credit.

There seemed little threat when Vikash Dhorasoo spread a neat pass out to Vairelles on the right wing. The tall striker, who scored last season against Arsenal for Lens, spotted Gould charging out of his area and delivered a clever lob from a tight angle over the goalkeeper and into the far corner of the net.

Parkhead was stunned into silence and Celtic's players did not come up with a response until the 38th minute. Jackie McNamara's neat work on the right touchline found Mark Viduka, who neatly turned Florent Laville before homing in on goal. However, Viduka blazed a right-foot shot wide of the target.

In the second half Celtic got bogged down as much by frustration as by the heavy pitch. Oliver Tebily was lucky not to be shown a yellow card for provoking a 54th-minute flare-up with several Lyon players. The French side remained the more threatening, with Sonny Anderson almost adding to Celtic's misery in the 68th minute with a driving run and stinging right foot shot which Gould did well to turn wide for a corner. Celtic responded with a burst into the opposite area, but Coupet was alert to the danger and dived bravely at Viduka's feet.

Celtic (4-2-2-2): Gould; McNamara, Stubbs, Tebily, Rieth; Lambert, Burley; Moravcik (Blinker, 81), Berkovic; Viduka, Burchill. Substitutes not used: Kharine (gk), Petta, Mjallby, Wieghorst, Petrov, Brattbakk.

Lyon (4-3-1-2): Coupet; Carteron, Laville, Bak; Blanc (Devaux, 79); Linares, Violeau, Delmotte; Dhorasoo (Malbranque, 64); Anderson (Uras, 88), Vairelles. Substitutes not used: Govoe, Caveglia, Overdi, Hugues.

Referee: G Dardenne (Germany).

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