Celtic soar, Shakhtar crash
Scottish giants Celtic brought to an end an unwanted record on Wednesday when they overcame a deficit away from home in European competition for the first time beating Dynamo Moscow 2-0 to progress 2-1 on aggregate in their UEFA Champions League third preliminary round clash.
Substitute Georgios Samaras was their hero in Moscow as the Greek international's late goal edged the former European Cup winners to within one round of making the lucrative group stages and also ended a 22 match winless streak away from Glasgow in European competition.
However, there was to be no such joy for Shakhtar Donetsk - Ukraine's first ever European club trophy winners when they won the last ever UEFA Cup title earlier this year - as they were held 0-0 by unheralded Romanian outfit Timisoara in Romania and went out on the away goals rule as it ended 2-2 on aggregate.
Samaras was not the only late goalscoring hero. Sheriff, giants of Moldovan football but minnows in European terms, moved to within 180 minutes of an historic appearance in the group stages as Jose Nadson struck in the fourth minute of injury time in Prague to force a 1-1 draw with Slavia Prague.
The Moldovans progressed on the away goals rule - the tie finished 1-1 on aggregate - and wrapped up a dreadful two days for Czech football. On Tuesday Sparta Prague had seen a first leg 3-1 advantage overturned by Greek side Panathinaikos, who won 3-0 to qualify 4-3 on aggregate and leave the Czechs without a representative in the Champions League.
Celtic - for whom Australian striker Scott McDonald was their other scorer - will face a tough draw in the final qualifying round with potential opponents being Arsenal, deposed seven-time French champions Lyon or Italian side Fiorentina when the draw is made on Friday.
However, their new manager Tony Mowbray while delighted at the result in Moscow refused to get carried away with coming through successfully his first competitive assignment since he replaced Gordon Strachan. "I always believed we could score in Moscow but no-one is getting carried away," said Mowbray, who played for Celtic from 1991-95.
"If you get beat then you are not a bad side and if you win then you are not a brilliant side. There is a lot of hard work ahead of us and we need to keep going."
His Dynamo counterpart 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)."