Dec 5 (Reuters) - Kris Commons fired Celtic into the Champions League last 16 when his penalty helped them to a 2-1 victory over Spartak Moscow in their final Group G match at Celtic Park on Wednesday.
It was a big reward for Celtic, who took a giant step into the knockout round last month when they stunned Barcelona 2-1, and they will be appearing in the last-16 for the first time since 2007-08.
Celtic finished second in the group on 10 points, three behind Barca but two ahead of Benfica, who could only manage a 0-0 draw against the Spaniards. Spartak were bottom with three points.
Celtic went ahead in the 21st minute with Gary Hooper's low drive after a blunder by Spartak centre back Juan Insaurralde but the Russian side pulled one back six minutes before halftime through Ari's delightful lob.
The hosts pushed hard for a winner but had to wait until the 82nd minute when Commons struck home from the spot after Giorgios Samaras was pushed over in the area.
Anticipation hung in the air on a cold and noisy night in Glasgow with home fans keeping a close eye on what was happening in the group's other match where their rivals for the runners-up spot, Benfica, were playing at Barcelona.
Celtic nerves were temporarily calmed after they were gifted an opener when Spartak's Argentine defender Insaurralde mis-kicked a long ball from Celtic's Samaras and sent it straight into the path of Hooper who pounced and drilled home.
But Spartak, who had looked the more threatening for much of the first half, put the brakes on the Scottish celebrations in the 39th minute when Emmanuel Emenike played in Ari on the right and the Brazilian chipped the ball over keeper Fraser Forster.
Celtic defender Kelvin Wilson chased to try and keep the ball out but could only pile into the net. The hosts then set about trying to find the goal that would change their fate.
Samaras and Ambrose went close before Commons' spot kick sent Celtic through. (Writing by Sonia Oxley; Editing by Alison Wildey)
- Sports & Recreation
- Kris Commons
- Spartak Moscow
- Celtic Park