Europa League round-up: Birmingham on brink of exit
Thursday 01 December 2011
Nikola Zigic's failure from the penalty spot and Club Brugge's amazing comeback to beat Maribor mean Birmingham City's brave Europa League campaign looks to be on the verge of ending.
Chris Hughton's side lost 1-0 in Braga but only after Zigic had an 11th-minute penalty saved by home goalkeeper Quim when the scores were level. Braga then snatched victory in the striking Municipal Stadium when former Newcastle midfielder Hugo Viana's 50th-minute shot deflected in off Birmingham defender Curtis Davies.
To compound the Championship team's misery, Brugge fought back from 3-0 down in Slovenia with 16 minutes to go to win 4-3. A draw will now be enough for the Belgians in their final match, against Braga, to join the Portuguese side in the knockout round and eliminate Birmingham.
Celtic lost 1-0 at Parkhead to Atletico Madrid, Arda Turan's long-range shot embarrassing home goalkeeper Fraser Forster in the 29th minute, and must now beat Udinese in Italy in their final game to reach the next round. Celtic substitute Gary Hooper had a goal disallowed after Anthony Stokes helped Charlie Mulgrew's header on with his arm.
The Celtic manager Neil Lennon said: Lennon said: "We're still in there with a fighting chance. It just means we have to go and win, which is a tall order obviously, but we are improving all the time and I can't ask for any more of the players than that performance."
The Shamrock Rovers manager, Michael O'Neill, admitted his side were punished for defensive lapses as Rubin Kazan beat them 4-1 in Russia, their fifth successive defeat in the competition. "There was definitely a lack of mental concentration. Generally, we were punished for bad decisions and poor defensive play," O'Neill said.
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