Artur Boruc was Celtic's hero last night after the Scottish Champions reached the promised land of the Champions League proper thanks to the Polish goalkeeper making two fine saves in the penalty shootout that ultimately settled this absorbingly madcap third qualifying round tie.
That upshot is that both the Old Firm clubs will be among the balls drawn today in Monaco. They cannot be drawn against each other, but each has a one-in-two chance of being in the same group as one of Manchester United, Chelsea, Liverpool or Arsenal.
On a night of astonishing drama where many of the 60,000 crowd spent parts of the game peeking through their fingers or holding their breath, the hosts took the lead with a first goal for the club by Scott McDonald in the 27th minute. Spartak, who had already missed an undeserved penalty, then equalised on the cusp of half time after a slapstick first 45 minutes by both defences.
Celtic conceded the penalty when the ball hit Gary Caldwell's hand as he lay in the box. It was a harsh call and justice was served when Roman Pavlyuchenko thundered the ball against the post. Pavlyuchenko equalised from a corner.
Celtic then squandered chance after chance in the second period of normal time, before Spartak were reduced to 10 men with five minutes left. Martin Stranzl received a straight red card in the for hacking down Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink. Even playing with 10 against 11, Spartak stayed competitive for the whole of extra-time, and even when they gave away a 114th-minute penalty for handball, Hesselink could only smack it against the post.
So to more spot kicks, with both sides converting their first of the shootout for 1-1. There was then a Celtic miss, by Shunsuke Nakamura, which was followed by Boruc's first save, from Igor Titov. Things stayed level to 3-3, then Majiec Zurawski made it 4-3 before Boruc saved again, from Maksym Kalynchenko, and disappeared beneath a pile of jubilant team-mates.
Celtic's manager, Gordon Strachan, whose first taste of Europe with Celtic was a humiliating elimination before the group stages two years ago, fairly danced across the turf with a grin that is probably still gleaming this morning.
"I've had some good nights as a player and manager but this will be one of the ones in the golf club in 25 years' time which I'll still be telling people about," Strachan said. "It had everything. A sending off, penalties, good football, silly football, a shootout, – it was a cracker."
As if that were not enough, there was even a dust-up between Boruc and his own left-back, Lee Naylor. That will all be forgotten today.
Celtic have pedigree in this competition on their own turf. In the last 21 Champions' League matches at home they have now lost just once, and that to Barcelona, 3-1, in 2004.
Celtic (4-4-2): Boruc; Wilson, Caldwell, McManus, Naylor; Nakamura, S Brown, Donati, McGeady (Riordan, 104); McDonald (Zurawski, 97), Vennegoor of Hesselink. Substitutes not used: M Brown (gk),Hartley, Killen, Sno, O'Dea.
Spartak Moscow (4-4-2): Pletikosa; Shishkin, Kovac, Stranzl, Soava; Bystrov(Kalynychenko, 95), Mozart, Titov, Torbinskiy (Boyarintsev, 100); Welliton (Dedura, 87), Pavlyuchenko. Substitutes not used: Khomich (gk), Geder, Sabitov, Dzyuba.
Referee: R Rosetti (Italy).Reuse content