Some outstanding goalkeeping from stand-in David Marshall and a gritty defensive display from his team mates helped Celtic book their place in the last eight of the UEFA Cup after a 0-0 draw at Barcelona on Thursday.
Leading 1-0 after a bad-tempered first leg in Glasgow, Celtic were put under severe pressure from the start, but 19-year-old Marshall produced a string of top-class saves to keep the Catalans at bay and ensure last season's runners-up moved into the quarter-finals.
Barca, who have powered their way up to third place in the Primera Liga on the back of a nine-match winning streak, created a host of excellent scoring chances throughout the match as they ran the midfield.
But in the absence of the suspended Javier Saviola and the injured Patrick Kluivert they lacked the finishing touch up front and could not break down the well-organized Celtic defense, who grew in confidence as the game wore on.
The runaway leaders of the Scottish premier league, accompanied by 5,000 fans at the Nou Camp, will now meet another Spanish side, Villarreal.
Barca wasted no time in pushing forward in search of an early goal and looked certain to take the lead in the opening minute after midfielder Gerard had been put through on goal by Ronaldinho.
But Marshall timed his intervention to perfection and tipped the ball away from his feet just as the Barca player lined up his shot.
The keeper, deputizing for Robert Douglas who was sent off in the first leg, was pressed into action on three more occasions in the opening minutes and responded brilliantly each time.
He reacted sharply to save a Luis Enrique header, palmed a Luis Garcia shot over the bar and then blocked another close-range effort as two Barca players bore down on him.
Celtic hardly had a touch of the ball and only threatened once when Henrik Larsson broke free in the seventh minute, but the Swedish striker was run down by Barca defender Carles Puyol.
Barca, with Ronaldinho at the helm, dominated for the rest of the half and should have broken the deadlock just before the break when Luis Garcia set up the unmarked Michael Reiziger but the Dutchman sliced wide of the post.
It was more of the same after the break, Barca launching wave after wave of attacks only to see them repelled by the dogged Celtic defense.
Marshall plucked the ball from the feet of Ronaldinho after he had jinked his way towards goal on 68 minutes, blocked a fierce shot from Gabri in the next attack and then produced an outstanding reflex save to turn a Luis Garcia volley over the bar.
AS Roma and Liverpool were also dumped out of the cup after a dramatic evening of matches.
Roma beat unfashionable Spanish side Villarreal 2-1 but lost the tie 3-2 on aggregate and Liverpool's season took another turn for the worse when they were beaten 2-1 at Olympique Marseille.
Inter Milan restored Italian pride by defeating Benfica 4-3 to reach the last eight, where they were joined by Dutch champions PSV Eindhoven, French team Girondins Bordeaux, England's Newcastle United and Spain's Valencia.
In next month's two-legged quarterfinals Marseille will play Inter, PSV face Newcastle and Bordeaux take on Valencia.
Villarreal, who have battled through the competition from the Intertoto Cup, looked to be heading out when goals by Roma's Emerson and Antonio Cassano levelled the tie.
But Brazilian forward Sonny Anderson scored for the Spaniards midway through the second half and Villarreal withstood fierce late pressure to advance.
"Unfortunately, in football you sometimes need luck as well," said Roma coach Fabio Capello. "The team played OK. They ran a lot and they showed plenty of determination but the away goal punished us heavily."
Inter edged a terrific match at the San Siro, coming from behind to beat Benfica 4-3 on the night and on aggregate.
Portuguese forward Nuno Gomes put the visitors ahead but young Nigerian Obafemi Martins equalized in first-half injury time.
Goals by strikers Alvaro Recoba and Christian Vieri gave the Serie A side a 3-1 advantage before Gomes pulled one back, only for Martins to claim his second goal 20 minutes from time.
Inter, three times UEFA Cup winners in the 1990s, looked to be cruising but Mendes Tiago scored for Benfica with 13 minutes remaining to set up a tense finale.
Marseille came out on top in a battle of former European champions, recovering from conceding an early goal to win 2-1 and knock Liverpool out 3-2 on aggregate.
England striker Emile Heskey gave Liverpool an early lead but the visitors, UEFA Cup winners in 2001, were reduced to 10 men when Croatian defender Igor Biscan was sent off for tugging back Marseille striker Steve Marlet.
Didier Drogba converted the resulting penalty seven minutes before halftime and Aboudlaye Meite's towering header just before the hour mark sent his team through.
PSV's quarter-final tie with Newcastle gives the English premier league team's manager Bobby Robson a clash with one of his former clubs.
"It's marvellous how football brings up these equations," said Robson who agreed a one-year contract extension on Thursday.
"I had three great years there, I know a lot of people there and am looking forward to going back but I hope we knock them out."
Robson enjoyed a comfortable evening as two goals by captain Alan Shearer and a brilliant solo effort from substitute Craig Bellamy earned Newcastle a 3-0 win at an under-strength Real Mallorca to secure a 7-1 aggregate success.
PSV striker Mateja Kezman struck twice in the first 27 minutes and midfielder Mark van Bommel added a third to give his team a 3-0 victory over AJ Auxerre and a 4-1 aggregate win.
Valencia finally ended the surprise run of Turkish side Genclerbirligi by beating them 2-0 after extra time for a 2-1 aggregate success.
Bordeaux defeated Club Bruges 1-0 in Belgium with forward Maruane Chamakh scoring a late winner to seal a comfortable 4-1 aggregate victory for the French side.
FIRING BLANKS: West Brom and Burnley had conceded a combined 21 goals in their seven games, but the 47th match of the season was the first to end goalless Wolverhampton Wanderers on Monday climbed to sixth place in the English Premier League as Raul Jimenez sealed a 1-0 win at Leeds United on a night West Bromwich Albion and Burnley played out the first goalless draw in the division this season. Nuno Espirito Santo’s Wolves clinched their third league win of the campaign when Jimenez’s second-half strike deflected in off Leeds midfielder Kalvin Phillips. The Mexico striker’s third goal of the season made it back-to-back wins for Wolves after they beat Fulham before the international break. “It was a good performance with some aspects to improve. We were better in the second
China wants to unite its 1.4 billion people through soccer, while also using the sport as “a bridge to work with the rest of the world,” Chinese Football Association secretary-general Liu Yi told reporters in an interview published yesterday. Liu spoke about what lies behind the country’s push to become a major soccer power by 2050. Under Chinese President Xi Jinping — who is described by state media as an “avid soccer fan” — the world’s most populous country has grand plans to host and even one day win a World Cup. Liu spoke about “using football to motivate the whole nation.” “Football is
Maybe Kyler Murray will lose a game on the home field of the Dallas Cowboys one of these days. It was not going to be on Monday, when the Arizona quarterback watched the star running back of his hometown team have another night of “fumble-itis.” Murray accounted for three touchdowns in his first game back home as a professional and Ezekiel Elliott set up the visiting team’s first two touchdowns with fumbles as the Cardinals beat the Dallas Cowboys 38-10. The speedy quarterback, who won three high-school championships and a Big 12 title at the home of the Cowboys, improved to 7-0 as
Patrick Mahomes on Monday did not mind taking a back seat to rookie Clyde Edwards-Helaire and the Kansas City Chiefs’ running attack. With the Buffalo Bills working hard to limit deep throws by Mahomes, he gladly kept handing off the ball as Kansas City beat Buffalo 26-17 in a game originally scheduled for Thursday last week. “You know my nature, I want to throw it deep every time. We want to go down and throw these long touchdowns, but if teams are going to play us like this, we’ve got to show we can run the football,” Mahomes said. Mission accomplished. Led by Edwards-Helaire’s