Celtic 1, Sporting Lisbon 0

Celtic played with a verve and style that have rarely been seen this

season, but left both behind in the dressing room at half-time.

Fortunately, their first half display turned out to be just enough to

give them a lead to take to Lisbon in a fortnight, but if they are as

outplayed there as they were in the second half last night, their UEFA

Cup chances will surely disappear.

Yet, there must be hope for a team that can make such excellent

openings as were missed by Gerry Creaney and John Collins during

Celtic's period of ascendency. If they had gone on to add to Creaney's

fine early goal, the story -- and the prospects of an appearance in the

third round -- would have been so much greater.

As it was, Sporting, who looked in danger of subsiding at that stage,

stepped up a gear after the interval and in the process looked a classy

side. But for some sound goalkeeping by Pat Bonner and brave defending

by Gary Gillespie and Co. they might well have proved it.

But there was anything but over-confidence in Bobby Robson's

after-match verdict. The Sporting manager said: ''We haven't got the

result we came for. I felt sure we could score here and I picked a team

with that in mind. It still gives us a chance in the return. I am

disappointed, but the tie is nicely poised.''

The former England manager praised Paul McStay, Celtic's outstanding

player of the night. ''He controlled the midfield in the first half, but

once our lads got things right in the second we took charge there.

Perhaps Celtic were a little better than I had anticipated.''

Celtic's stand-in leader, Frank Connor, said: ''We had injury problems

for this tie, but, even so, if we had taken our chances Sporting would

have an awful lot to do.''

The top man was unquestionably McStay, who reminded his fans, as well

as his detractors, that he can still play a fair old game when the mood

takes him.

Yet he and his team-mates looked on edge (maybe not so suprising in

the current circumstances) when the Euro show got into swing just after

tea-time to suit Portuguese TV. At any rate, they very nearly were a

goal down in two minutes, when a slack clearance by Collins went

straight to the feet of Cadete and the danger man immediately whipped in

a low shot which Bonner was able to halt.

It was only one incident in a furious opening spell, during which the

Portuguese were surprisingly aggressive.

But when a clever Nicholas volley landed just past the post, there

were signs that Celtic were beginning to overcome their uncertainties,

and Creaney gave that impression the perfect confirmation when he put

them ahead in nine minutes.

Byrne, who made the most of his first European experience, pushed the

ball into the striker, who chested it down, sent Peixe the wrong way and

shot past Costinha.

For a spell Celtic handed the midfield initiative to Lisbon, not the

best tactic against a side with their passing skills. Grant was booked

for a foul on Pacheco and Bonner had to get down smartly to the free

kick, which was hit hard and true by Torres.

But Collins could really have dampened the ambitions of the visitors

when a ball from the right came into his path with time and space for a

left-foot shot. Unfortunately, he was off target.

An even better chance was missed by Creaney when he stole the ball

from Peixe and went clear through on goal. The striker took careful aim

-- and shot past the post.

Peixe who had already been booked, was still not for taking prisoners

and when he flattened McGinlay he could count himself lucky that the

referee did not take out the red card.

Capucho almost snatched an equaliser soon after the interval, when he

took advantage of being left unmarked on the right to hit a powerful

drive which Bonner did well to touch over the bar.

Pacheco had a wonderful run past three defenders, but tried to

complete his move with a chip over Bonner when two colleagues were

screaming for a pass.

With seven minutes left Celtic put on O'Neil for Byrne, who received

loud applause from the stand, but it was perhaps with more relief than

triumph that the 31,321 trooped home.

CELTIC -- Bonner, Gillespie, Boyd, Grant, Mowbray, McGinlay, Byrne,

McStay, Creaney, Nicholas, Collins. Substitutes -- O'Neil, Marshall,

McQuilken, Smith, Gray.

SPORTING LISBON -- Costinha, Nelson, Torres, Peixe, Valckx, Sousa,

Capucho, Pacheco, Cherbakov, Balakov, Cadete. Substitutes -- Lemajic,

Jorge, Leal, Filipe, Sigo.

Referee -- B Heynemann (Germany).