Boruc reveals secret of penalty heroics

Celtic goalkeeper Artur Boruc has revealed how he read Louis Saha’s mind to make the penalty save that sent the Scottish champions into the knockout stages of the Champions League for the first time.

Boruc’s priceless stop from the Manchester United striker’s late spot-kick was every bit as crucial as Shunsuke Nakamura’s spectacular free-kick winner as Celtic claimed a memorable 1-0 victory on Tuesday night.

United seemed destined to secure a point when Saha, who had beaten Boruc from the spot in United’s 3-2 win over Celtic at Old Trafford in September, stepped up to take the penalty.

But Boruc correctly guessed that the Frenchman would try to repeat his side-footed strike towards the goalkeeper’s right-hand corner.

“I wouldn’t say it was a great save because there is always a lot of luck in saving a penalty,” Boruc said.

“But I was thinking about the last one he scored against me and I thought he might do the same thing, that’s what was on my mind.”

The penalty save came just minutes after Boruc had made a point-blank stop from Saha, who appeared to believe he was offside as he controlled the ball beyond the Celtic back four.

Boruc did not make the same mistake. “I didn’t see that he was offside, I just played on,” he said.

Celtic, who famously became the first British club to win the old European Cup in 1967, are now guaranteed their place in the knockout round and manager Gordon Strachan will be desperate to go at least one step further than crosstown rivals Rangers, who became the first Scottish club to reach the second round last season but fell at that stage, to Villarreal.

Strachan would not be drawn into describing the achievement as the most significant of his managerial career, arguing that would be disrespectful to players he had worked with at Coventry and Southampton.

“You just thank the players for a night like that,” he added. “I have been lucky to play with some great players in my career but last night I was lucky to have good players who helped me as a manager.

“At the free-kick you have somebody [Nakamura] who is as good as anybody in the world at them, and then you have a goalkeeper who can pull of saves like that.” - Sapa-AFP

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