Celtic are improbably in a fantastic position to seal a knockout stage place in the UEFA Champions League after they pulled out a stunning road win against Spartak Moscow on Tuesday. They were aided by a Spartak red card in the second half, but held their own for the entire match and their 3-2 victory was well-earned.
Gary Hooper scored the game's opening goal 12 minutes, finishing off an impressive counter. Victor Wanyama started the move by winning the ball in midfield and sprayed the ball wide right. On a surging run forward, Mikael Lustig curled a great ball around the Spartak defense to the near post for Hooper, who applied a great finish.
Just before halftime, Emmanuel Emenike pulled the hosts level. Kim Källstrom set up the goal with a through ball into the box for Demy De Zeeuw, who laid the ball off for Emenike to finish.
Spartak took the lead two minutes into the second half, with, De Zeeuw and Emenike hooking up again. Ari created the chance with a long shot that Fraser Forster deflected into the path of De Zeeuw. The Dutchman chipped over Forster and Emineke applied the final touch from inside the six-yard box to give Spartak a 2-1 lead.
The hosts were well in control until the 63rd minute, when Spartak defender Juan Insaurralde picked up a straight red card for denial of a clear goal-scoring opportunity on Hooper. The official initially believed that Hooper tripped over his own feet and waived play on, but after a long delay and some consultation with his assistant, chose to send off Insaurralde. Celtic equalized shortly after the long delay, with substitute James Forrest getting on the end of a flick by Hooper during a great move forward by Celtic. His shot deflected around like a pinball and eventually went in off Dmitri Kombarov for an own goal.
Celtic pushed for a winner, but Spartak looked just as lively with 10 men, and it didn't look like it was coming. Improbably, Giorgios Samaras found a stoppage time winner, rising up above the Spartak defense to head in a great cross by Emillio Izaguirre to give his team a stunning 3-2 victory.
Spartak now have zero points from two matches in which they held leads, while Celtic have four points -- approximately four more than any non-Celtic supporter figured they'd have at this point.