Celtic were beaten 1-0 by Dinamo Moscow on Wednesday in the first leg of the third qualifying round of the Champions League and have a huge challenge on their hands in the second leg in Moscow next week if they are to remain in the competition.
The Russians were in no way overwhelmed by the atmosphere at Celtic Park, and their fast technical players started the game brilliantly, going ahead in the 7th minute when Kokorin opened up the scoring by finishing a cross at the near post.
The visitors were well able to defend en masse during the opening period, and looked dangerous when they countered, utilizing their speed to stretch the Celtic defense.
That said, the Bhoys had a few opportunities to level things up. Irish international Aiden McGeady was beating him man regularly and was at the fulcrum of most good things for Celtic, but it was new signing Marc Antoine Fortune who had the best chances to equalize.
In the 23rd minute the striker forced a good save out of Gabulov, but the real chance came four minutes later. Scott McDonald found himself free on the left and squared a great ball to Fortune who managed to screw the ball wide when the goal was gaping.
Celtic maintained pressure for the rest of the opening period but could not find a breakthrough. Whatever Tony Mowbray said during the halftime cup of tea almost worked immediately when Shaun Moloney’s cross was headed goalbound by Scott McDonald until a last gasp clearance from Kombarov saved a certain goal.
In the 60th minute Mowbray started to ring the changes with Giorgio Samaras coming in for Fortune and Chris Killen replacing McDonald as the Celtic boss tried to find a goal that would bring his team back into the tie.
Hinkel picked up a yellow card in the 67th minute just before Danny Fox came on for Massimo Donati in what was Mowbray’s last throw of the dice.
Celtic seemed to run out of steam in the second half as their attacks were not as fluid and the intensity of their game dipped, which suited the Russians who seemed content to sit on their away goal lead.
Fox whipped in a decent cross in the 72nd minute from a free but there was no green and white shirt on the end of it. Fox himself had a half chance three minutes later when his header sailed over the bar after some decent Celtic possession.
Gary Caldwell gifted Kerzhakov possession in the 77th minute but the Russian’s effort was well saved by Boruc.Celtic won a corner off the ensuing kick out and Chris Killen's header went right and wide, as the Bhoys desperately searched for an equalizer.
Shaun Moloney had a chance to be the hero when Killen knocked down a long ball, but the Scot sliced his effort high over the bar. Smolov could have wrapped up the tie when he broke through on goal on the 85th minute, but Boruc saved to keep his side alive.
The chance that Celtic needed to regain a foothold in the match fell to Samaras in the 86th minute. Gary Caldwell picked out the striker with a good ball to the back post, but the big Greek could only head it in to the keeper’s chest.
That was to be the last real chance for the home team, and the Russians will return home with an away goal and with a huge advantage in the tie.