x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Bhoys fail on the road again

The Spanish international Marcos Senna scores direct from a free-kick to give Villarreal a 1-0 victory over Celtic in Group E of the Champions League.

Villarreal's Marcos Senna, centre, tries to evade the Celtic defence.
Villarreal's Marcos Senna, centre, tries to evade the Celtic defence.

VILLARREAL // The Spanish international Marcos Senna scored direct from a free-kick to give Villarreal a 1-0 victory over Celtic in Group E of the Champions League last night. The Brazilian-born Senna curled a right-footed shot over the wall and inside Artur Boruc's near post in the 67th minute for what proved to be the only goal of the game. The Bhoys' substitute Scott MacDonald nearly equalised for Celtic in the 75th minute, but the Australian striker's volley skimmed over the bar.

The Scottish champions saw their pointless streak on the road stretched to 15 games - dating back to a 1-1 group-stage draw against Barcelona nearly four years ago. It was the first European Cup match at El Madrigal stadium since April 2006, when the Arsenal goalkeeper Jens Lehman saved Juan Roman Riquelme's penalty in the closing moments to send the Gunners into the final in Paris. Sebastian Eguren's turnover gave Celtic the initiative in the 12th minute, but Shaun Maloney sent his free-kick straight at goalkeeper Diego Lopez.

With Senna pulling the strings in midfield, Villarreal were soon into their stride and enjoyed the lion's share of possession. Eguren had a chance in front of goal two minutes later, but the Uruguay midfielder headed wide from Giuseppe Rossi's delivery. In the 20th minute, Senna shot wide in the first of a series of long-range shots from both teams. Teammate Joseba Llorente missed twice before Celtic's Aiden McGeady struck a powerful attempt wide in the 26th.

The Villarreal goalkeeper Angel Lopez, who was impressive in stopping Manchester United from scoring two weeks ago, came out to block a chip shot from Georgios Samaras three minutes before the break after Diego Godin's error had put the unmarked Greece striker in space down the right. Celtic, who are yet to win on Spanish soil after 11 attempts, came close again in the 49th minute when Gary Caldwell back-heeled to Stephen McManus in the box, only for the lumbering defender's shot to be stopped by Lopez. But Villarreal came right back with Rossi streaking in two minutes later only for his left-footed shot to go wide. Villarreal continued to encircle the Celtic area, forcing Boruc to smother a hard shot from Cazorla in the 60th before Senna finally broke the deadlock.

Boruc did all he could to frustrate Villarreal. McManus blocked Llorente's shot in the 84th minute before the rebound fell again to the striker, but the Poland goalkeeper threw his body to block it. Boruc dived to stop Cazorla's low attempt in the 90th minute - Villarreal's 11th shot on target. The 26,000 spectators sent the visitors off with chants of "Celtic" filling the air as the Scottish team left the field dejected. *AP

AaB Aalborg 0 Man Utd 3 Villarreal 1 Celtic 0 Bayern Munich 1 Lyon 1 Fiorentina 0 Steaua Bucharest 0 Arsenal 4 FC Porto 0 Fenerbahce 0 Dynamo Kiev 0 BATE Borisov 2 Juventus 2 Zenit St Petersburg 1 Real Madrid 2