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Last Updated:  Thursday, 27 February, 2003, 20:21 GMT
Celtic kill off Stuttgart
Alan Thompson celebrates with fellow Celtic scorer Chris Sutton
Thompson and Sutton both scored in a three-minute spell
Stuttgart 3-2 Celtic (Aggregate: 4-5)

Celtic reached the quarter-finals of the Uefa Cup with an aggregate victory over Stuttgart that was comfortable until the dying moments in the Gottlieb Daimler Stadium.

The Scottish champions, who held a 3-1 lead after the first leg in Glasgow, scored twice in the early stages through Alan Thompson and Chris Sutton to virtually seal victory in a potentially hazardous tie.

But Stuttgart fought back and goals from Christian Tiffert, Aliaksandr Hleb and Michael Mutzel eventually gave the home side a win on the night.

12 mins: Thompson scores for Celtic
15 mins: Sutton doubles Celtic's lead
37 mins: Christian Tiffert pulls one back
75 mins: Aliaksandr Hleb equalises
87 mins: Michael Mutzel scores Stuttgart's winner

Celtic had failed to record their first-ever victory in Germany but showed that they are as capable as any side left in the tournament of lifting the trophy on 28 May.

Liverpool will be their next opponents after Gerard Houllier's side completed a 3-0 aggregate victory over Auxerre.

Stuttgart were weakened by the absence of Marcelo Bordon, Silvio Meissner and Fernando Meira but buoyed by the 4-0 weekend win over Borussia Moenchengladbach that kept Felix Magath's side third in the Bundesliga.

But they were soon on the ropes against a Celtic side virtually back to full strength.

Didier Agathe delivered a high, dipping cross into the box that Hartson flicked on for Thompson to head into the far corner of the net.

Agathe was the creator again for the second, speeding past Timo Wenzel before passing from the byline for Sutton to tap home.

Stuttgart looked deflated but took advantage while Thompson was off the field receiving treatment for an injury after 37 minutes.

We got off to a fantastic start, but the last 20 minutes seemed like an eternity
Martin O'Neill
Heiko Gerber's cross found Tiffert diving in unmarked at the back post to give his side some hope.

Stuttgart played much of the second period camped in Celtic's half as Martin O'Neill's side appeared content to defend their lead.

But Hleb played a one-two on the edge of the Celtic box before driving the ball under Rab Douglas for the equaliser after 75 minutes.

The striker sent another shot off the inside of the post and substitute Mutzel pounced on a Hleb through ball to drive past the Celtic goalkeeper and give Stuttgart a win on the night.

VfB Stuttgart: Hildebrand, Hinkel, Wenzel, Gerber (Seitz 79), Hleb, Soldo, Balakov, Danglmayr (Ganea 46), Kuranyi, Amanatidis, Tiffert (Mutzel 64).
Subs Not Used: Ernst, Schneider, Luz, Rundeo.

Booked: Balakov, Mutzel.

Celtic: Douglas, Laursen, Valgaeren, Balde, Agathe, Lambert (Maloney 81), Thompson, Lennon, Petrov, Sutton (McNamara 86), Hartson.
Subs Not Used: Marshall, Sylla, Guppy, Mjallby, Crainey.

Attendance: 45,000

Referee: Jan Wegereef (Holland).

Celitic boss Martin O'Neill:
"We're through and it's fantastic"


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