Celtic vs. Spartak Moscow: Final score 2-1, Hoops advance on a controversial penalty

Stu Forster

Celtic will play in the Round of 16 after defeating Spartak Moscow thanks to a controversial second half penalty.

Celtic defeated Spartak Moscow 2-1 tonight at Celtic Park to secure a play in the next round of the Champions League. Gary Hooper scored in the first half for the Hoops and Kris Commons converted a controversial second half penalty to give Celtic the victory.

Celtic drew first blood in the 21st minute thanks in large part to a massive defensive howler by Spartak. Georgios Samaras sent a probing long ball towards the Spartak end that should have been easily corralled by Juan Insaurralde. So easy was the apparent play that Celtic forward Gary Hooper stopped running, but lucky for Celtic he kept his eyes on the play. The ball deflected off Insaurralde's foot, right in to Hooper's path who accelerated on to the ball and got off a low shot that beat Sergey Pesjakov, putting Celtic up 1-0.

Spartak equalized six minutes from halftime as Emmanuel Emenike and Ari embarrassed Celtic's defense. Emenike was the catalyst, dancing his way through the Celtic defensive third, drawing the attention of nearly every defender back. Ari sneakily got behind the Celtic back-line on the left side and Emenike found him with a great pass and Ari finished, chipping the ball over Fraser Forster to even the match at a goal apiece.

Celtic threw the kitchen sink at Spartak in the second half.

In the 51st minute, Mikael Lustig sent a great ball in to the box that Samaras was able to get his foot on. The shot beat Pesjakov, but hit off the post and away from danger leaving Samaras holding his head in frustration.

Celtic were at it again in the 72nd minute when Efe Ambrose made a late run in on the left on a corner kick. Ambrose beat the Spartak defender but sent his header just wide in to the side netting.

Charlie Mulgrew had his chance in the 78th minute, heading a corner down hard off the ground right towards the goal. It looked sure to score, but Pesjakov came out of nowhere and made an excellent diving save.

Then it finally happened.

In the 81st minute, Samaras was taken down in the box by Jose Jurado and the referee pointed to the penalty spot. Replays showed virtually no contact and Spartak likely won't be too happy later this evening after seeing the tape. Kris Commons stepped up to the spot and beat Pesjakov with a powerful shot straight down the middle, putting Celtic ahead 2-1.

Spartak's Kim Kallstrom was sent off in the 88th minute after a bad tackle on Commons. It easily could have been straight red on its own.

The injury to Commons added a long five mintues of stoppage time but as the referee finally blew the whistle, Celtic Park exploded as the Hoops advanced to the Round of 16.

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