Celtic suffer in shoot-out

Celtic 1 Valencia 0 Aet; 1-1 on aggregate; Valencia win 5-4 on penalties
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The Independent Online

Celtic dipped into the reservoir of pain that was Valencia's last May when they were removed from the Uefa Cup as cruelly as the Spanish side had lost the European Cup final at San Siro.

Martin O'Neill's courageous side lost a penalty shoot-out, which went to sudden death before Miguel Angel Ferrer beat Robert Douglas, who had already saved two kicks, to decide this epic third-round tie.

Ironically, one of Celtic's culprits from the spot was Henrik Larsson, whose superb goal in first half-stoppage time had restored parity to the tie, and only a remarkable save by Sanitiago Cañizares denied John Hartson the winner in the dying embers of extra-time.

Celtic knew they had to retrieve the one-goal deficit, but their search for parity had to be laced with caution. Valencia possess not only flair, but have Spain's meanest defence in the shape of Miroslav Djukic and Mauricio Pellegrino.

It was the latter who denied Larsson after barely a minute when the Swede gathered Lubomir Moravcik's pass and waltzed round Cañizares just outside the box, only to see his angled shot cleared by Pellegrino.

Valencia's robust midfield tried to snuff out Celtic's build-up, but Neil Lennon's tigerish tackle on Pablo Aimar in the 17th minute allowed Stilian Petrov to release Larsson on the right wing. The striker picked out Chris Sutton and the England player's right-foot shot grazed the side-netting.

Valencia possessed menace of their own. Fabio Aurelio rolled a short free-kick to Aimar just before the half hour and the Argentinian's fierce drive was beaten away by Douglas. Seconds later, the goalkeeper threw himself to push away Aimar's header.

Moravcik ought to have scored after getting clear of Valencia's defence, but slashed his shot just over the bar. However, in stoppage time, Moravcik helped unlock the door for Larsson as Celtic finally scored. The playmaker found Paul Lambert, who deftly supplied Larsson to curl a sublime shot around Cañizares from 16 yards.

Valencia's response was to bring on Jocelyn Angloma at half-time but it was Roberto Ayala's thrust down the right which opened Celtic up for Aimar to steal in. Fortunately, Lambert read the danger and blocked the Argentinian's shot. Aimar's corner found Gonzalo de los Santos and his header was cleared by Bobby Petta.

After a few more illustrations of Valencia's speed, O'Neill sacrificed Moravcik for the pace of Mohammed Sylla to neutralise the threat. The substitute drew a foul from Angloma and Larsson was unlucky to see his free-kick curl wide of the post.

Celtic (3-5-2): Douglas; Mjallby, Balde, Valgaeren; Petrov, Lambert, Lennon, Moravcik (Sylla, 55; Hartson, 111), Petta (Thompson, 84); Larsson, Sutton. Substitutes not used: Gould (gk), McNamara, Tébily, Maloney.

Valencia (3-5-2): Cañizares; Djukic, Pellegrino, Ayala; Torres (Angloma, h-t), Aurelio (Ferrer, 68), De los Santos, Aimar (Sanchez, 83), Carboni; Rodriguez, Carew. Substitutes not used: Palop (gk), Baraja, Ballesta, Marchena.

Referee: K E Fisker (Denmark).

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