Another away loss sinks Celtic

Celtic were eliminated from European competition on Tuesday as their dismal away record in the UEFA Champions League continued with a 2-1 reverse at Denmark's AaB Aalborg.

Celtic manager Gordon Strachan, in charge of his 25th European tie, will rue his side's missed chances as the Parkhead club's travel troubles continued. Manchester United's goalless draw in Villarreal means these outfits both qualified for the last 16 ,with Aalborg claiming third spot and the UEFA Cup berth.

The Scots, who have now only taken one point from 18 away matches, had started brightly and Barry Robson gave them a well-deserved lead. But Aalborg struck back with a deflected goal from midfielder Caca and then a late own goal from Gary Caldwell gave the Scandinavians the points.

Georgios Samaras could have given Celtic the perfect start in the sixth minute. Shunsuke Nakamura curled a perfect cross into the box from the left wing, but the onrushing Greek striker just failed to connect with it as he slid in.

Japanese international Nakamura missed an even better chance three minutes later. Scott McDonald played the midfielder in, but he blasted his left-foot effort high over the bar with only Karim Zaza to beat.

In the 21st minute, Martin Pedersen floated in a free-kick from 35 yards out which was headed on by Michael Jakobsen at the edge of the box, but Artur Boruc did well to shepherd the ball out as Jeppe Curth rushed in.

Aalborg came close in the 35th minute when the Celtic defenders were caught napping. Thomas Enevoldsen's vicious inswinging free-kick found the free head of Jakobsen, but Boruc did well to tip his effort over the bar.

Samaras should have done better when he was presented with a great chance in the box after 40 minutes. Nakamura swung a free-kick in from the left, but the Greek international headed well wide of the post under no pressure from the Aalborg defence.

Aalborg had the first chance of the second half when a headed clearance from Stephen McManus landed at the feet of Enevoldsen, but his first-time strike from the edge of the box whistled over the bar.

Celtic broke the deadlock in the 53rd minute through Robson. The midfielder, who had missed a penalty when the two sides met at Parkhead, beat Martin Pedersen to a Mark Wilson cross from the left and fired a bullet header past the helpless Zaza into the net.

In the 65th minute Gary Caldwell went on a mazy run beating three Aalborg defenders before he unleashed his shot from a couple of yards out but Zaza got his body in the way to block it. Nakamura tried his luck from 20 yards out after picking up a pass from Australian international McDonald, but he drilled his shot inches wide of Zaza's far post.

Aalborg got back on level terms on 73 minutes. Midfielder Caca unleashed a shot from 30 yards which took a wicked deflection off Celtic captain McManus and looped over Boruc and into the net.

Celtic's hearts were broken when Caldwell scored an own goal in the 88th minute. Andreas Johansson fired a cross in from the right which Glenn Loovens attempted to clear, but it hit Caldwell and flew past Boruc.

Substitute Cillian Sheridan came close to connecting with a cross in the final minute but the Danish champions held on to claim the win and their UEFA Cup place.