Thom strikes twice to cheer Celtic

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The Independent Online
Dynamo Batumi 2 Celtic 3

Celtic's German import, Andreas Thom, scored twice to give the Glasgow club their first European away win for nine years in Georgia yesterday.

The pounds 2.2m signing from Bayer Leverkusen struck three minutes from the end to give Celtic a dramatic victory which should see them progress safely to the second round of the Cup- Winners' Cup after the return leg in a fortnight's time.

It was Thom's fourth goal in five games for his new club and illustrated why his manager, Tommy Burns, was so keen to add the former East German international to his squad. With the big Dutchman, Pierre van Hooijdonk, out injured, there was great responsibility on Thom and he shouldered it manfully with a brave display.

Celtic had looked ill at ease as they took the field amid a high security operation. Their players were obliged to weave through throngs of curious locals and pass through a number of road blocks to reach the stadium. With 5,000 police and soldiers on alert, water cannons were placed in side streets and guard dogs were much in evidence.

Within nine minutes, Celtic were a goal down. Paata Machutadze strolled through the centre of their defence and a lunge from Tom Boyd only succeeded in deflecting his shot over Gordon Marshall and into the net. A bad mistake by Gela Chekiladze gave the Scottish Cup holders a 21st-minute equaliser, Thom netting with a volley after the defender had lost possession.

Celtic took the lead six minutes before half-time, Phil O'Donnell's pass from the left setting up Simon Donnelly for a decisive finish. After the break, though, Batumi hit back hard and Temur Tugushi equalised with a 66th-minute solo goal. Celtic survived plenty of pressure - and then Thom struck with his late winner.

Dynamo Batumi: Baladze; Malanya (Antidze, h-t), Chanidze, Mujiri, Chekiladze, Torgashvili, M Makaradze, Machutadze, Tugushi (Gilonti, 85), Udjmaruridze (D Makaradze, 46), Mindadze.

Celtic: Marshall; Boyd, McKinlay, Vata, Hughes, Grant, O'Donnell, Donnelly (Falconer, 75), Walker (McLaughlin, 89), Thom, Collins.

Referee: A Klein (Isr).