Celtic kept alive their Uefa Cup hopes last night thanks almost entirely to an inspired performance from their goalkeeper Robert Douglas.
John Hartson's 28th-minute shot, which forced an excellent save out of Santiago Cañizares, was Celtic's only real chance in a match dominated by Valencia.
Douglas produced a brilliant double save just before the break to deny Juan Sanchez and he was at his best again after 57 minutes, tipping John Carew's powerful header onto the bar.
The pressure was relentless and the Argentinian international Pablo Aimar should have put the Spanish side ahead from point-blank range with 18 minutes left, but again Douglas produced the necessary heroics. But the Celtic goalkeeper could not hold out forever. Two minutes later a drilled shot from the Spanish international Vicente Rodriguez gave Valencia a 1-0 win to leave the tie well poised for the second leg on 8 December at Celtic Park.
Valencia (4-3-1-2): Cañizares; Torres, Ayala (Djukic, 44), Pelligrino, Carboni; Angulo, Albelda, Rodriguez; Aimar (Ballesta, 85); Sanchez (Mista, 65), Carew. Substitutes not used: Palop (gk), A Ilie, Marchena, Rufete, Salva.
Celtic (4-4-2): Douglas; Mjallby, Balde, Crainey, McNamara; Lambert, Lennon, Moravcik (Petta, 57), Petrov; Larsson, Hartson (Sylla, 80). Substitutes not used: Gould (gk), Tébily, Healy, Maloney, Guppy.
Referee: D Messina (Italy).Reuse content