Celtic's Barry Robson squandered a first half penalty while AaB Aalborg had the wrong player sent off in a goalless Champions League Group E opener.
Mistaken identity but Danes hold on
GLASGOW // Celtic's Barry Robson squandered a first-half penalty while AaB Aalborg had the wrong player sent off in a goalless Champions League Group E opener yesterday. The Italian referee Matteo Trefoloni showed the Australian defender Michael Beauchamp a red card with 11 minutes remaining for denying Celtic's Greek striker Georgios Samaras a scoring opportunity. Television replays showed it was Michael Jakobsen who was in fact the guilty party rather than the Australian, who protested his innocence for several minutes.
"It appears to be the case (that it was a mistake) and straight away I thought it was the wrong player," said Aalborg manager Bruce Rioch, a former Scotland midfielder. "There was a little bit of confusion among the officials straight away, but it didn't appear to be really clear and Michael is very disappointed, obviously, because he wasn't involved in the incident." Celtic survived two early first half scares against the Danish side.
After 13 minutes Michael Jakobsen cracked a fierce 35-yard free-kick which flew beyond the Hoops' goalkeeper Artur Boruc and narrowly wide of the left post. The Aalborg skipper Thomas Augustinussen then launched a long ball through the middle that caught out the Celtic defence. Jeppe Curth shot first time, prodding the ball under Boruc but agonisingly wide of the right post. Celtic's frustration was compounded when they missed a fabulous chance to take the lead on 29 minutes.
Robson rammed his penalty straight down the middle and against the legs of the Moroccan keeper Karim Zaza after Shaun Maloney was brought down by the Dutch defender Steve Olfers. Celtic surged forward after the break and Scott Brown scooped the ball over the top from just eight yards with only 34 seconds on the clock. Samaras also came close when he turned swiftly in the penalty area, swerving a 15 yard shot past Zaza and just wide in the 50th minute.
The Greek slid another effort past the near post as Celtic stepped up the pressure and in the 77th missed his best chance after being released on the left by substitute Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink. Samaras closed in on goal, trying to drag the ball around keeper Zaza before it squirmed off him and past the near post. The Celtic manager Gordon Strachan said: "We were below the standard we have set, in the first half, and had a good standard in the second. We had chances but weren't clinical enough."
Group E Celtic 0 AaB Aalborg 0 Man Utd 0 Villarreal 0 Group F Lyon 2 Fiorentina 2 Steaua Bucharest 0 Bayern Munich 1 Group G Dynamo Kiev 1 Arsenal 1 Porto 3 Fenerbahce 1 Group H Juventus 1 Zenit St Petersburg 0 Real Madrid 2 BATE Borisov 0