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 Posted by ESPN Staff
Sep, 26, 2006

Relief for Strachan as Celtic notch first points

Celtic manager Gordon Strachan has revealed how Kenny Miller outfoxed team-mate Shunsuke Nakamura to become their Champions League hero.

Miller grabbed the only goal of the game from the penalty spot to hand the Hoops a vital win against Copenhagen at Parkhead.

The striker had finally broken his goalscoring duck for Celtic when he bagged a goal against Rangers on Saturday.

And he quickly appointed himself as penalty-taker in the absence of the injured Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink when skipper Neil Lennon asked for volunteers ahead of tonight's game.

But Strachan reckons Japanese international Nakamura would probably have taken on the role instead - had he understood what was going on.

Instead, the Hoops boss confesses he was left sweating over the spot-kick - which ultimately separated the two teams - after witnessing Miller's less-than-convincing penalty for Scotland against the Faroe Islands.

'Kenny decided this morning that he's going to take the penalties, which made sure I had a nervous seven hours after seeing his first one for Scotland,' smiled Strachan.

'But he did well, he handled it well.

'I don't think Nakamura understand what Lenny was saying when he asked for the penalty takers.

'I was waiting for his interpreter to quickly speak to him and tell him he wants to take the penalties but Kenny got in there first.'

And Strachan believes two goals in as many games following his goal drought will have done wonders for Miller's confidence.

'I've always been happy with him,' he added. 'It's just that scoring goals would make him happy and he's happy tonight.'

Celtic left Old Trafford empty-handed after suffering a 3-2 defeat in their Champions League opener against Manchester United a fortnight ago.

They knew the three points from tonight's game were crucial to get off the mark and keep them in with a chance of progressing to the knockout stages.

And they received a further boost with the news that Benfica - another contender for second place - lost their home match to United.

'Excellent news,' beamed Strachan. 'That was good for us.

'We're just hoping that Manchester United go and win every game now, apart from the one they play against us.

'But we've made ourselves happy, the supporters happy and, hopefully, the people of Scotland happy with that performance.

'It was a big night for us and I don't think we had a failure for us.'

Copenhagen manager Stale Solbakken was disappointed that his players never really managed to put Celtic under pressure at all.

He said: 'We limited their chances to three or four, other than the penalty, and I was pleased about that. But I hoped that we would create more chances.

'We never really looked like scoring and it is down to me to fix that.

'To get ahead of Celtic in the group stages, we will really need to win against them in Copenhagen.'

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