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Last Updated: Sunday, 18 March 2007, 14:53 GMT
Falkirk 1-0 Celtic
By Clive Lindsay

Patrick Cregg congratulates goalscorer Steven Thomson
Steven Thomson (right) opened the scoring for Falkirk
Steven Thomson's early strike ended Falkirk's run of eight straight defeats with a surprise win over Scottish champions-in-waiting Celtic.

Kasper Schmeichel saved a Craig Beattie penalty after the Celtic striker was felled by Dean Holden.

And a Paul Hartley cross came off the inside of a Falkirk post.

But Thomson headed in a Carl Finnigan cross before the goal supplier was sent off along with Celtic's Stephen McManus after an angry exchange.

It was the first time in 13 years that Celtic had lost three games in a row - and 13 years since they had failed to score in three games in a row.

Beattie, Jiri Jarosik and ban-free Paul Hartley had returned to the Celtic starting line-up following the 1-0 defeat by Rangers, with Aiden McGeady, Evander Sno and the injured Jan Veneegor of Hesselink dropping out.

Fit-again Alan Gow returned to the Falkirk side along with Patrick Cregg, with Vitor Lima and Pedro Moutinho consigned to the bench.

And they squandered a chance to take an early lead when Finnigan played a one-two with Russell Latapy.

Despite being teed up by Latapy's fine through ball, the former Newcastle United reserve striker sliced wide from 14 yards.

The Bairns were almost left to rue that seconds later, when goalkeeper Schmeichel managed to turn Shusuke Nakamura's low drive from the edge of the box just wide of the post.

Celtic were awarded a penalty when referee John Underhill ruled that Holden had connected with Beattie's leg before clearing the ball following Hartley's through ball.

But Falkirk had a double let-off.

Stephen McManus and Carl Finnigan square up at Falkirk Stadium
Stephen McManus and Carl Finnigan were sent off

Underhill decided against even cautioning the defender, who had been cleared to play the previous day after a successful appeal against a red card shown last weekend.

And Schmeichel smothered Beattie's poorly-struck spot kick.

Falkirk were also fortunate to escape another penalty award when Beattie appeared to be hauled down by Darren Barr.

And the home side had another lucky escape when a Hartley cross was missed by the head of Kenny Miller and Schmeichel's outstretched arms before striking the inside of the post and back into the goalkeeper's grasp.

Falkirk relief turned to joy as they rushed to the other end and Finnigan's chip into the box was headed home from 12 yards by Thomson.

Both sides were reduced to 10 men when Finnigan and McManus were shown red cards after the Falkirk striker used his elbow and the Celtic defender replied with his head in retaliation.

Yet more Celtic shouts for a penalty were waved away early in the second half when Cregg clashed with Nakamura.

Neither side could fashion many clear-cut chances, but Schmeichel did well to hold a powerful long-range effort from Nakamura.

And, with a combination of tenacity and guile, Falkirk prevented Celtic fashioning one of the their trademark late fightbacks.


Falkirk: Schmeichel, Ross, Barr, Milne, Holden, Thomson, Cregg, O'Donnell, Latapy (Moutinho 76), Finnigan, Gow.
Subs Not Used: Lambers, Lima, Dodd, Craig, Scobbie, Uras.

Sent Off: Finnigan (38). Booked: Milne, Barr, Ross.

Goal: Thomson 16.

Celtic: Boruc, Wilson (Gravesen 76), Pressley, McManus, Naylor, Hartley, Lennon, Nakamura, Jarosik (McGeady 60), Miller (Zurawski 68), Beattie.
Subs Not Used: Brown, Sno, O'Dea, Caldwell.

Sent Off: McManus (38). Booked: Miller, Lennon, Pressley, Hartley.

Att: 6,438

Ref: J Underhill



SEE ALSO
Strachan wanted five spot-kicks
18 Mar 07 |  Celtic
Red card tempers joy for Hughes
18 Mar 07 |  Falkirk


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