Celtic goalkeeper Fraser Forster: I thought Barcelona were winning

Celtic advanced to the knock out phase of the Champions League

Fraser Forster revealed he played during Celtic's 2-1 Champions League win over Spartak Moscow at Parkhead last night believing Barcelona had made the Hoops chances of qualifying for the last-16 easier by taking the lead against Benfica in the other Group G tie.

The Scottish champions went into the match knowing they would qualify for the knockout stages only if they got a better result against the Russian club, consigned to the bottom of the table, than the Lisbon club got in the Nou Camp.

In the second half of a tense evening at Celtic Park with the game tied at 1-1 after Gary Hooper's opener had been cancelled out Ari, a roar swept around the stadium which suggested that Barca had scored against the Portuguese club.

However, it was an erroneous call, the game in the Nou Camp finished goalless and had Kris Commons not scored from the spot with 10 minutes remaining after defender Marek Suchy was judged to have barged Georgios Samaras in the box, then it would have been Benfica and not Celtic who had gone through to the knockout stages.

Neil Lennon's men could face Manchester United, Malaga, Juventus, Bayern Munich, Borussia Dortmund, Schalke or Paris St Germain.

Keeper Forster said: "To be honest I thought the other game was 1-0 after the crowd had cheered so I was quite surprised to come off the pitch and find out it was 0-0, but big thanks to Barcelona for doing their job.

"We're delighted to be in the last 16. I think we'll take anyone, we've shown what a tough place it is to come here and we'll fancy our chances.

"I don't know if we're hoping for a really big team or a side we think we can beat, but we'll wait and see and take whoever we get, I'm just delighted to get there.

"The manager was delighted, as was everyone. I think he's really pleased with how the team has developed in the last couple of years and it's obviously a huge thing for the club."

Two minutes from time Spartak midfielder Kim Kallstrom picked up a second yellow card for a foul on Commons who was taken off on a stretcher, the only sour note in a momentous night for Lennon's side who finished second in Group G behind Barcelona with 10 points and who are in the knockout stages for the first time since the 2007/08 season.

The Parkhead men had to fight their way through two qualifying rounds and were then unfancied when drawn alongside the Russian club, Benfica and Barcelona.

And the Celtic manager was referring to that scepticism when he said: "It means the world to me as a young manager in my first year in the Champions League to qualify with 10 points. I am very proud of the players, they have performed a miracle.

"People laughed at me when I said at the start that my target was to qualify.

"No one gave us a prayer going into this group but we have qualified and deservedly so."

PA

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