Celtic's Uefa hopes disappear

Celtic 0 - Milan 0
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The Independent Online

Celtic's European season drew to a close last night as Milan prevented them from getting the one goal that would have secured a consolation route into the Uefa Cup.

Celtic's European season drew to a close last night as Milan prevented them from getting the one goal that would have secured a consolation route into the Uefa Cup.

The stalemate at Parkhead proved costly as Shakhtar Donetsk won 2-0 at home against Barcelona to snatch third place in the group from Celtic, who were left to rue a stunning save by the Milan goalkeeper Dida from John Hartson just before half-time.

Celtic learned of events in the Shakhtar v Barcelona game during the the interval and stepped up their pursuit of a goal in the second half, with Stan Varga going close with a header and then Paolo Maldini gifting a chance to Chris Sutton but the striker tugged his effort wide.

Aiden McGeady then returned to centre stage, setting up Sutton and Joos Valgaeren for attempts on goal but Dida denied both. Celtic then brought on Henri Camara and Juninho in the final stages, and came ever closer when Dida pushed Jackie McNamara's raking shot wide.

Celtic's desire to look after their own interests was underlined in a frenetic opening spell. McGeady's skill on the left embarrassed Fabricio Coloccini before delivering a cross that Sutton headed wide.

Milan gradually gained a foothold in the contest and illustrated their own menace.

Celtic were bystanders for over 20 minutes but just before half-time, they lifted the Parkhead crowd when McNamara's cross was headed on by Sutton for Hartson to hook a volley that seemed a certain goal until Dida somehow touched it over the bar.

Celtic (4-4-2): Hedman; McNamara, Baldé, Varga, Valgaeren (Camara, 65); Petrov (Juninho, 76), Lennon, Thompson, McGeady; Sutton, Hartson. Substitutes not used: Marshall (gk), Sylla, Laursen, Maloney, Wallace.

Milan (4-3-2-1): Dida; Coloccini, Nesta, Maldini, Costacurta; Brocchi, Ambrosini, Dhorasoo (Kaka, 85); Rui Costa (Seedorf, 79), Serginho; Shevchenko (Crespo, 63). Substitutes not used: Fiori (gk), Cafu, Gattuso, Pirlo.

Referee: K Vassaras (Greece).

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