Maloney and Miller make a claim for youth
Celtic 1 Arsenal 1
Sunday 03 August 2003
Celtic may have had the kind of air scare in midweek that has put Dennis Bergkamp off flying for good, but Liam Miller's career looks poised for take-off.
The young Irishman struck his first goal for the club in midweek in the Champions' League win in Kaunas before the runway drama of an aborted take-off, and followed it up with another in the drawn friendly match at Parkhead in front of almost 45,000.
Ironically, Bergkamp was not among the witnesses. The phobic Dutchman - who returned from Arsenal's tour of Austria by car - was caught in traffic in England and missed the contest.
It kept up Celtic's fine record against Premiership sides (one defeat in 15 games under Martin O'Neill) and was achieved without Henrik Larsson - injured in the success at Kaunas - and Chris Sutton, nor John Hartson, who has yet to recover from back surgery.
The quest for goals fell on the slender shoulders of young Shaun Maloney. The 20-year-old was a lone forward, yet his foraging nearly paid off after eight minutes when he got in behind the Arsenal defence but found his left shot blocked by Jens Lehmann, the recent recruit from Borussia Dortmund.
O'Neill had elected to rest most of the side which endured an extra day's stay in Lithuania. Arsenal were without Thierry Henry and Robert Pires, yet this contest did not suffer from an air of people going through the motions in the high-tempo first half.
Indeed, Ray Parlour was fortunate not to be punished for a series of crunching, late challenges, most notably on Maloney. The diminutive forward ought to have taken his revenge on the half hour when he robbed Ashley Cole on the halfway line and released Momo Sylla, only for the midfielder to go alone, producing a tame shot.
Arsenal's own striking understudy, Jéremie Aliadière, was finding it equally hard to fill Henry's boots, though his pace required constant vigilance from the Celtic defence. However, it was little surprise that the opening period was a frustrating stalemate.
The deadlock, however, was broken nine minutes into the second half when Liam Miller put Celtic ahead. The young midfielder - like Maloney, a product of Celtic's youth system - controlled Neil Lennon's chip into box with his chest and then found the net with an overhead kick.
Arsenal were stung. Francis Jeffers tried to fashion a response when he seized on an error by Bobo Balde, but his lob did not carry enough weight to beat Celtic goalkeeper Magnus Hedman.
Jeffers then squandered an even better chance, after Parlour's energy had carried him down the right flank. Jeffers gathered the cutback but his shot flew wide of the target.
The Premiership side were bolstered even further when Patrick Vieira came on as a substitute to make his first appearance in an Arsenal shirt since that pivotal title encounter with Manchester United in April.
However, it was another replacement, Kanu, who restored parity in the 71st minute. The Nigerian international made a fool out of Stanislav Varga, who lunged in on the touchline, allowing Kanu to escape and his intended low cross for Jeffers broke back to him off Ulrik Laursen to bundle the ball past Hedman.
Half-time: 0-0 Attendance: 44,396
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