Samaras inspires Celtic
Greek international Georgios Samaras scored a goal in injury time on the road to give Scottish giants Celtic a superb 2-0 victory over Dynamo Moscow in their UEFA Champions League third preliminary round second-leg clash to progress 2-1 on aggregate.
Samaras - who was sent on by new manager Tony Mowbray in the 79th minute to replace the other goalscorer Australian Scott McDonald - notched his first goal in European competition for the club and created history as Celtic overturned a first leg deficit away from home for the first time in Europe.
Celtic - who ended a dismal 22-game winless spell for the Old Firm giants away from home - dominated the match and will hope for a kindly draw on Friday for the final qualifying round which, if they are successful in, will see them make the lucrative group stage.
Mowbray said his side more than merited the victory. "Over the two matches I think the better team came through the tie," said Mowbray, who played for Celtic from 1991 to 1995. "I thought we controlled the game for long spells and we got what we deserved in the end."
Dynamo manager Andrei Kobelev - whose team are fifth in the league four points adrift of leaders Kazan after 16 matches - conceded Dynamo had not played at their best. "Today we looked tired and lacked confidence," he said. "Celtic looked more fresh and the more experienced team tonight (Wednesday). Now we will be able to concentrate on the domestic league before taking part in the Europa League."
McDonald had given them the lead a minute before half-time when he headed Andreas Hinkel's cross past Vladamir Gabulov. And with the game looking to be heading to extra time it was Samaras who went on a mazy run before slotting past the keeper.
In what was a must-win game Mowbray made only one change to the side that lost against the Russians in Glasgow with new signing Daniel Fox coming in for the injured Lee Naylor in defence. Last week's Dynamo goalscorer Alexander Korobin dropped to the bench as Dynamo welcomed back captain Dmitry Khokhlov, who was suspended for the first leg.
Celtic looked up for the challenge right from the start as they enjoyed lots of early possession but failed to create any clear-cut chances as McDonald and Marc-Antoine Fortune failed to click up front. In fact, it was Dynamo who fashioned the first shooting opportunity with Alexander Kerzhakov curling a tame effort at Artur Boruc from 25 yards which the keeper easily gathered.
Celtic took until the half-hour mark to have their first shot on target with Shaun Maloney firing in a shot from 25 yards out but it trundled into the arms of Gabulov. After some good build-up play from Celtic's loan signing Landry Nguemo was next to try his luck from distance but his tame effort didn't trouble the keeper.
In the 44th minute - and with the half looking like ending goalless - McDonald popped up to head Celtic into the lead. Fortune laid the ball off for German international Hinkel to send a deep cross to the back post where the diminutive Australian rose above Denis Kolodin to steer his header past Gabulov and level the tie. Dynamo looked to respond immediately and from a corner Khokhlov lashed in a shot at the back post but his effort was cleared off the line.
The Russians started the second-half positively as they looked for a goal that would avoid extra-time. With 52 minutes gone a mistake by Hinkel allowed the ball to break to Dmitry Kombarov at the edge of the box and he drilled a low shot just past Boruc's post. They then came agonisingly close to equalising three minutes later when Kirill Kombarov's header from twin Dmitry's corner was cleared off the line by Hinkel, who atoned for his earlier mistake, with Polish international Boruc beaten.
With seconds remaining it was Samaras who went on a mazy run in the Dynamo box before sending a low shot past Gabulov to seal a memorable win.