By Martin Macdonald
|CELTS HELD IN SCOTTISH CUP
A late Arbroath goal from Steven Doris left Celtic with another disappointing result at home as the Glasgow side and the Second Division club played out a 1-1 draw on Saturday afternoon.
An own goal from Alex Keddie put the Hoops in the lead in the first half, but a Scottish Cup replay between the sides was confirmed four minutes from time when Doris’ deflected free kick flew past Lukasz Zaluska.
Neil Lennon had made a number of changes from the victory against Hearts last week, and handed first starts to Joe Chalmers and Rabiu Ibrahim.
It was the Nigerian who threatened early on for the Celts. He picked up on the ball on the edge of the box and attempted a curler into the far corner but it went just wide of the post. Tony Watt then had drilled effort well saved by Arbroath goalkeeper, Scott Morrison.
The hosts were in control of the first period, and despite not creating a raft of chances, they took the lead in fortuitous circumstances 10 minutes before the break. Stewart Malcolm picked up the ball on his own byline and attempted to smash the ball to safety but saw his clearance comically bounce off the back off Keddie and into the Arbroath net.
The second half progressed with Celtic in total domination. Both Ibrahim and Victor Wanyama came close to doubling the lead with long-rang strikes, but both saw their efforts evade the Arbroath goal.
20 minutes from time, Lennon’s side came within inches of taking the match beyond Arbroath. Substitute Beram Kayal set-up Miku inside the box, but the Venezuelan saw his attempt bounce off the post.
The inability of the home side to rubberstamp the victory eventually saw them punished four minutes from full time. Doris struck a 25-yard free kick towards goal that deflected off the wall and left Zaluska helpless in the Celtic goal.
The Scottish cup replay will take place on December 12 and the winner will face an away tie against Raith Rovers.
|LENNON DEFIANT DESPITE RESULT
Celtic manager Neil Lennon has insisted that his side are ready for the crunch Champions League Group Stage match with Spartak Moscow on Wednesday, despite his side coming off a disappointing 1-1 draw with Arbroath in the Scottish Cup.
A last-gasp strike from Steven Doris forced a replay for the Second Divison side on Saturday, despite domination from the SPL champions, but Lennon remains upbeat about the match against the Russian outfit. Speaking after the cup match, he said:
“We should've won the game. We didn't but we're still in the cup so we'll look forward to the replay. Wednesday night will be a different opposition, a different team out and a different atmosphere. We have to rise to the occasion. We have to win the game. It's got nothing to do with today.”
The Irish manager did share his disappointment that some of his players did not put in the level of performance expected of them against Arbroath, but stressed that it is important that they quickly pick themselves up for such an important match against Spartak. He said:
“To draw at home is disappointing to say the least. People are wanting to play and people want me to use the squad, I've done that today and some have come up short, so I will maybe need to draw on some of the more experienced players from now on.
“We move on. We've got a big game on Wednesday night to look forward to and we'll address the replay when it comes."
|BIGGEST MATCH IN RECENT MEMORY
Celtic’s next match sees the Scottish Premier League champions take on Spartak Moscow in Matchday Six of the Champions League Group Stage.
The Hoops are currently sitting third in Group G and must aim to better Benfica’s result against Barcelona in the other match in the group.
Neil Lennon’s men came away with a fantastic 3-2 away victory against the Russian side in the previous encounter between the sides, with Georgios Samaras getting the winner in the latter stages.
Victor Wanyama is suspended for the crunch match due to picking up another yellow card in the previous match against the Portuguese champions, meaning Beram Kayal may be given the go ahead in midfield.
The Celts will no doubt look for inspiration in their momentous 2-1 win over Barcelona in the previous group match at Parkhead, as they will need to dig deep in order to claim their most important victory in recent memory against Spartak.