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By ESPN Staff
Nov 2, 2006

McManus refuses to blame Bhoy Caldwell

Celtic defender Stephen McManus has stressed that team mate Gary Caldwell will not be made a dressing room scapegoat after the Scotland international's horror first-half against Benfica in Lisbon helped the Portuguese club to a three-goal win in their Champions League Group F match in Lisbon.

Caldwell's misery began as early as the 10th minute when he put through his own goal in an attempt to clear a Nelson cross.

Twelve minutes later, the Hoops' stopper appeared to lose the flight of the ball from a long punt by Benfica keeper Quim and when it fell kindly to Nuno Gomes 12 yards from goal, the visitors found themselves two down.

A neatly-taken goal by substitute Andrei Karyaka in the 76th minute sealed the victory and with Copenhagen beating Group F leaders Manchester United, Group F took an interesting twist with two games remaining.

Celtic now face United in Glasgow in November 21 and with the Hoops leading Benfica and Copenhagen by just two points, Gordon Strachan's side may need to get a victory to help them qualify for the knockout stages of the tournament for the first time.

But McManus insists Caldwell should not shoulder the blame for the Lisbon disaster.

McManus said: 'Gary has been first class for us this season and no one will be pointing the finger at him, certainly not me.

'He has been top drawer and we will pick him up again.

'The best players in the world make mistakes and Gary will be fine.

'The next two games will be very exciting. All the teams are capable of beating each other as was proved with last night's results.

'We knew Benfica are a very good side and we knew before the game how hard it would be and we didn't get carried away with things.'

'We lost to Manchester United and Benfica but it is great being a part of it all and roll on the next game.

'We won't let our heads go down.'