Fri, Dec 02, 2011 - Page 18 News List

British trio on Europa life support after defeats

DESPERATE TIMES:For Spurs to qualify for the knockout stages, they need to beat pointless Shamrock Rovers and hope Russian team Rubin Kazan drop points against PAOK

AFP, PARIS

Sporting de Braga player Lima, right, fights for the ball with David Murphy of Birmingham City in their UEFA Europa League match at the Axa Stadium in Braga, Portugal, on Wednesday.

Photo: EPA

Scottish giants Celtic and English sides Spurs and Birmingham City were left needing to win their final Europa League group matches if they are to have a chance of reaching the knockout stages after losing their penultimate group matches on Wednesday.

Spurs were surprisingly beaten 2-1 at home by PAOK Salonika — who qualified thanks to the win — after conceding two early goals and were unable to take advantage of playing all of the second-half against 10 men.

Celtic lost 1-0 at home to Spanish giants Atletico Madrid — who ensured they progressed — while Championship outfit Birmingham City went down by the same margin away at last season’s surprise finalists Portuguese side Braga.

Celtic, though, will need to pull off a win away against Italian side Udinese — who are three points ahead of them after drawing 0-0 with bottom side Rennes.

Birmingham must beat already eliminated Maribor and hope there is a winner from the Braga and Club Brugge match as both are three points ahead of the English League Cup holders.

Spurs must feel disappointed because they had what they thought was a perfectly good goal from Jermaine Defoe ruled out after initially being given, but they were their own worst enemies because they failed to put away any of their chances in the second half.

Croatian star Luka Modric’s first-half penalty had got them back into the match after Kostas Stafylidis was sent off somewhat harshly for handling on the line.

The Greek side had stormed into a 2-0 lead through a Dimitris Salpingidis header and a Stefanos Athanasiadis tap-in after 13 minutes.

For Spurs to qualify, they need to beat pointless Irish side Shamrock Rovers and hope Russian -outfit Rubin Kazan drop points against PAOK.

Celtic should have been 1-0 down after six minutes as Argentine Eduardo Salvio was picked out unmarked in the box, but his header lacked the accuracy reflected in his return of just one goal this season.

Celtic had their chances, with veteran Greek striker Giorgios Samaras having the best one, but his sidefooted volley from close range went straight at the ’keeper.

While Salvio missed another gilt-edged chance, Atletico did eventually break the deadlock in the 30th minute through the impressive Turkish international Arda Turan.

The former Galatasaray star rifled home a 25 yard effort after an Atletico corner had been headed clear, but Celtic skipper Beram Kayal will take some of the blame as he ill advisedly ducked to let the shot fly over him and see it go in off ’keeper Fraser Forster’s hands.

Things got worse for the former European Cup winners as left back Joe Ledley was stretchered off and was replaced by Charlie Mulgrew, who played despite his father -dying last week.

Celtic pushed forward in the second-half as they had to do and thought they had grabbed an equalizer in the 66th minute through Gary Hooper, but it was ruled out for handball by Anthony Stokes.

Birmingham should have been in front away to Sporting Braga at halftime, but Serbian striker Nikola Zigic saw his penalty — awarded for a trip by Ewerton on Wade Elliott — saved by veteran ’keeper Quim.

The English side paid for missing the penalty and wasting several other chances, with the hosts taking the lead early in the second-half as former Newcastle flop Hugo Viana let fly from 25 yards and his shot gave Birmingham ’keeper Boaz Myhill no chance because it took a huge deflection.

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