Football:United edge Celtic in spot-kick thriller

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It was 0-0 at half time, 1-1 at full time, 9-9 after 20 penalties and the not too familiar sight of the goalkeepers taking spot-kicks.On reflection the scene at Springfield last night was quite unbelievable and one which the majority of the 2,000 or so fans are likely never to see again.All 11 players from both sides took centre stage as the penalty shoot-out crept deeper and deeper into sudden death.

It was impossible to leave.In the end it was inevitable that one of the goalkeepers would miss and it was Celtic’s substitute stopper Sandy Wood who was the unlucky No 13 when his weak, straight shot was gathered by a relieved Tom Heaton.And all that after a corker of a match as well.Some real quality football more than made up for a lack of clear-cut chances as the spectators were treated to a game that was very easy on the eye.For 85 minutes it was an honest encounter between two teams that showed mutual respect.

Only in the last few minutes did tensions rise but, it was the man in black who was to blame after several needless yellow cards.Celtic ‘keeper Michael Robertson was called into action after 13 min when his team-mate Stephen Low deflected a cross goal-bound but he pulled off a lightning reaction save.United shaded the opening 45 min – having a weak penalty kick from Ramon Calliste saved by Michael Robertson – and deservedly took the lead midway through the second half when an ball infield to Phil Picken saw him pick his spot from 18 yards.Celtic’s equaliser minutes later was almost a carbon copy with Scott Friel stroking a low shot into a corner from similar range.Celtic striker Ross Harris’s close control and work-rate were impressive all night and the Hoops finished the stronger team, even having a potential winner disallowed for offside.United’s Neil Wood showed great maturity and composure to boss the midfield in the first half as the Red Devils enjoyed good possession.Afterwards a smiling United coach Brian McClair admitted that his lads had been practising penalties.

‘We practise them all the time,’ he said.

‘I thoroughly enjoyed the game – I thought it was a smashing spectacle.

We’ve come here to work hard and I was pleased with the effort.’Celtic boss Willie McStay added: ‘For the game to finish that way was good for the fans and I think they went home happy.

‘There was some good quality from both sides and an honesty about the game and I thought the standard of football was good.

Both teams must take a lot of credit – it was a hot night.’Celtic v Man United is always special – I wish we could play them every week.’

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