Celticґs hopes of reaching the Champions League
quarter-finals for the first time in their history were left hanging by a thread
after drawing 0-0 with AC Milan in Glasgow.
Though a goalless draw against the Italian giants is no disgrace, the Scottish
Champions appalling away record in the competition - losing 11 and drawing one -
would suggest they will not progress to the final eight after the second leg in
Milan in two weeks.
Gordon Strachanґs Celtic, though, can be proud of their efforts in a match where
they matched AC Milan throughout.
Despite the noisy backing of the home support it was the visitors who had
settled quickest and were first with an attempt at goal in the sixth minute.
Milanґs Brazilian star Kaka picked up the ball 25-yards from goal and struck a
tame right-foot effort which was easily gathered by Celticґs Polish goalkeeper
Two minutes later a curling free-kick into the box from Japanese playmaker
Shunsuke Nakamura caught the AC Milan defence wrong-footed leaving Celticґs
Dutch striker Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink in space yards from goal but he could
not get his head to the ball.
Celtic were now finding their feet and Irish Republic international Aiden
McGeadyґs perfectly weighted pass in the 14th minute put Kenny Miller racing in
on goal whose low shot from 10-yards was comfortably saved by Australian keeper
With the match now flowing end-to-end Milanґs Yoann Gourcuff should have given
the Italians the lead in the 17th minute, when Andrea Pirloґs cross found him
unmarked at the back post, but the Frenchman headed straight at Boruc.
The visitorґs had an even better opportunity in the 26th minute when Kaka split
the Celtic defence with a sliding pass.
Alberto Gilardino raced onto the ball and looked a certainty to score until
Boruc raced off his line to narrow the angle and save the Italianґs shot from
six-yards with an outstretched left leg.
Before half-time Nakamura tested Kalac with a curling left-foot free-kick from
22-yards in the 40th minute but the Milan keeper saved low to his left.
Celtic had the first shot on goal of the second half with McGeadyґs shot from
20-yards in the 48th minute straight at Kalac.
Former Rangers midfielder Gennaro Gattuso almost scored against his old Glasgow
rivals in the 52nd minute when Kakaґs clever pass put him clean through on goal
only for the midfielder to slice his shot into the side net from 12-yards.
At the other end, two minutes later, Lee Naylorґs powerful left-foot drive from
20-yards in had Kalac beaten at full-stretch but missed the top corner of the
net by inches.
As the game moved into the final quarter it was AC Milan who began to gain the
upperhand but they were finding it difficult to break through the heart of
Celticґs young central defensive pairing of Stephen McManus, 24, and Darren
Milan had shouts for a penalty in the 71st minute when Gilardino tumbled in the
box, after he knocked the ball too far past Boruc, but Norwegian referee Terje
Hauge instead booked the Italian for diving.
With four minutes left Celtic had a final chance to snatch what would have been
a vital victory.
Naylorґs long throw-in fell to Celticґs Danish midfielder Thomas Gravesen, who
had replaced Neil Lennon in the 81st minute, but from 18-yards he sliced his
shot well wide.