Thompson keeps Celtic's faint hopes alive

Celtic 1 - Shakhtar Donetsk 0
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The Independent Football

Celtic picked up their first Champions' League point of this campaign when Alan Thompson's first-half strike decided a taut contest that saw Shakhtar Donetsk finish the match with just nine men.

Celtic picked up their first Champions' League point of this campaign when Alan Thompson's first-half strike decided a taut contest that saw Shakhtar Donetsk finish the match with just nine men.

The Ukrainian side's Anatoly Tymoshchuk and Cosmin Barcauan were sent off for hauling down Henri Camara and Stilian Petrov before Celtic finally settled for the victory that may give them a chance to steal the consolation of a Uefa Cup place from Shakhtar.

Petrov created an early opening for Joos Valgaeren with his clever flick but the defender's header was too direct. Shakhtar, though, offered a reminder that vigilance was required when Julius Aghahowa thumped a venomous volley from a knockdown on the edge of the box, forcing David Marshall to produce an excellent save.

But Celtic soon restored the pressure and came close with a Petrov volley flying narrowly wide before John Hartson's aerial power forced goalkeeper Jan Lastuvka to punch the ball straight out to Didier Agathe, whose fierce shot was only kept out by Mariusz Lewandowski who threw himself at it.

The deadlock, though, was broken in the 25th minute after Lastuvka held on to the ball for twice the permitted time, conceding an indirect free-kick that Petrov touched into the path of Thompson and his raking shot flew through the wall past the keeper.

Parkhead went wild and those celebrations were almost cranked up just before half-time when Camara's pace took him clear, only to be cynically cut down by Tymoshchuk, the captain, who was instantly shown a red card.

Then, just before the hour, Shakhtar were reduced to nine men as Barcauan was sent off for pulling Petrov down as he raced onto Camara's pass to incur his second yellow card, but Celtic were unable to make their numerical advantage count further.

Martin O'Neill, the Celtic manager, said: "We are still in the Champions' League. We are back in it and we are going to go and do our utmost to go through. I would think that six points would probably give you a fighting chance of being in the Uefa Cup."

The Shakhtar coach Mircea Lucescu walked out of the post-match conference in protest at the two dismissals, saying only: "This is my form of protest. I don't want to say things I regret, but the same things happened against Barcelona and Milan and now here. We are working for nothing."

Celtic (4-4-2): Marshall; Agathe, Varga, Valgaeren, McNamara; McGeady (Wallace, 78), Petrov, Lennon, Thompson; Hartson, Camara (Beattie, 81). Substitutes not used: Hedman (gk), Sylla, Juninho, Pearson, Petta.

Shakhtar Donetsk (4-3-1-2): Lastuvka; Stoican, Barcauan, Lewandowski, Srna; Duljaj, Tymoshchuk, Matuzalem; Vukic (Hubschman, 58); Aghahowa (Marica, 67), Vorobey (Batista, 73). Substitutes not used: Shutkov (gk), Bielik, Lalatovic, Pukanych.

Referee: E Poulat (France).

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