Hartson keeps Celtic in hunt for Uefa Cup place

Barcelona 1 - Celtic 1
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The Independent Online

Celtic may have been eliminated from the Champions' League in Barcelona last night, but they will find much encouragement from their 1-1 draw against Europe's form team. With Shakhtar Donetsk losing 4-0 in Milan, the logic defying draw in the Nou Camp moved the Scottish champions closer to a Uefa Cup place by virtue of a probable third place finish in Group F.

Celtic may have been eliminated from the Champions' League in Barcelona last night, but they will find much encouragement from their 1-1 draw against Europe's form team. With Shakhtar Donetsk losing 4-0 in Milan, the logic defying draw in the Nou Camp moved the Scottish champions closer to a Uefa Cup place by virtue of a probable third place finish in Group F.

Stung by their elimination by Celtic in last season's Uefa Cup, Barça attacked immediately.

This was Frank Rijkaard's 13th European game coaching a side rated by Martin O'Neill as the best in the world. O'Neill's hopes of upsetting Barcelona's run of 11 consecutive home victories were slim, yet in their 11 previous games against Scottish opposition, Barça have won just two.

Rijkaard's Barça have ascended from a club torn by continual internal disharmony to one who head the Spanish League by seven points. Not for nothing are they fancied to win the European Cup competition for only a second time.

Celtic were undone when Samuel Eto'o worked a decisive one-two with Deco before striking his 13th goal of the season past Hedman.

Eto'o twice came close to making it two, while Giuly and the exceptional Xavi should have scored before, implausibly, Celtic equalised a minute before half-time. John Hartson, who has scored as many as Eto'o this season, was waiting at the back post to convert a Sutton cross flicked on by Varga.

Barca, with former Rangers midfielder Van Bronkhorst on as a substitute for his 70th European appearance, continued to dominate as both sets of fans sang in support of Henrik Larsson, who tore his cruciate knee ligaments in last Saturday's thrilling 3-0 rout over Real Madrid.

Yet for all of Barcelona's possession and sublime individual talents, they became frustrated by Celtic's man marking, their impudence, their resolve. Celtic's growing assurance, illustrated by the introduction of Camara for defender Varga, saw the home crowd become frustrated.

The result means Barcelona qualify for the final 16 of the Champions' League, but there was only one team celebrating as the vast edifice of the Camp Nou emptied.

Barcelona: (4-3-3) Valdes; Belletti, Puyol, Oleguer, Sylvinho (Van Bronkhorst, 45); Deco, Xavi, Marquez; Giuly (Iniesta, 60), Ronaldinho, Eto'o. Substitutes not used: Ruben (gk), Gerard, Navarro, Messi, Rodri.

Celtic: (5-3-2) Hedman; Agathe, Baldé, Valgaeren, Varga (Camara, 65), McNamara; Lennon, Petrov, Thompson; Hartson, Sutton. Substitutes not used: Marshall (gk), Juninho, Pearson, Laursen, Wallace, McGeady.

Referee: L Michel (Slovakia).

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