Wednesday, 10 December 2008

Celtic Pride Beat Villareal

Celtic vs Villareal 2-0
Villareal visited Glasgow tonight to face Celtic in their home stadium of parkhead. A match that should have meant nothing quickly evolved into a night to remember.

Celtic Salvage Pride With Victory Over Villarreal
The men in green fronted a strong side tonight, perhaps to save face at the bitter end of their European campaign, while Villareal made seven changes to the side that faced Machester United as they fielded what was quite clearly a second string.

First Half

Villareal seemed the more dangerous side from the start with some tidy link-up play from the forwards, however,both teams seemed to be doing nothing more than going through the motions in this seemingly meaningless match.

The pace of the game would soon change, though, after a lively Mark Wilson sent in the ball from a wide position to an arguably offside Scott Brown inside the box. Brown's touch would go on to find a lurking Shaun Maloney who steered the ball home with a tap-in header. Thirteen minutes in, Celtic go 1-0 up.

The small band of visiting fans had reason to leap out of their seats not long after this diappointment. Half an hour into the game, Villareal's most effective player so far - Guille Franco - was ordered to leave the pitch after the referee's assistant spotted foul play off the ball.

Replays showed minimal contact, the incident looking like nothing more than the Argentine striker shrugging off Gary Caldwell, the officials however, did not see it this way and the men in yellow went down to 10 men courtesy of a red.

In the wake of the earlier decision on Franco, it seemed the whole Villareal team were also seeing red, figuratively speaking. A barrage of fouls leading towards the break would only be punctuated by an injury-time goal by Aiden McGeady. The pacy winger was allowed too much space as he swanned forward to drill home number two for the home side. 2-0 Celtic.

Second Half

As expected, Villareal shuffled their system at half time, adding Turkish international striker Nihat Kahveci to the mix. The change saw Marcos Senna warm the bench, a precautionary move by the manager to ensure he did not follow in the footsteps of his teammate Franco.

Soon after play resumed, Nihat tested Artur Boruc with a shot on the edge of the box. The Turk continued to be a nuisance as the game progressed, at one point finding himself in a 1-on-1 with the Celtic 'keeper thanks to a Mati Fernandez pass, but his attempt was thwarted by a great save by the Polish goalie.

Overall, though, the second half saw more of the same great build up play from Celtic but without any end product. It seemed like every shot the home side took would end up going wide; even two great chances from Celtic subs Paul McGowan and Scott McDonald could only be directed by the posts.

Taking everything into consideration, it was a deserved win for the Scots. After the terrible streak of luck the Glasgow side have endured in European competitions, it seems only fair that they should end their campaign on a high note. Villareal, however, may not feel the same way as they take four yellow cards and one red into the next stages of the competition.

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