McGowan impresses for Celtic

Celtic 1 Man City 1

Celtic 1 Man City 1

Celtic finalised their SPL preparations with a 1-1 draw against Manchester City in their friendly encounter at Parkhead tonight.

Martin Petrov's 54th-minute strike gave City a deserved lead before youngster Paul McGowan equalised with 10 minutes remaining with his first goal for the first team.

McGowan missed the chance to become the hero when he hit the bar from 10 yards out in the final seconds as Celtic pressed for the winner.

The Parkhead side will unfurl their SPL Championship flag when they start their season against St Mirren on Sunday and although boss Gordon Strachan will field a stronger team than the one that finished the match, McGowan may have played himself in to contention.

Strachan gave surprise starts to out-of-favour duo Thomas Gravesen and Derek Riordan and fielded an unusual centre-back pairing of Scott Cuthbert and Darren O'Dea with youngster Paul McGowan appearing in midfield.

Neither Gravesen nor Riordan did themselves any favours in a low-key first period in which the visitors edged, certainly in terms of possession.

Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink, as skipper in the absence of Stephen McManus, played the lone striker's role for the Scottish champions who struggled to get going.

City did their best to entertain the sparse crowd but Valeri Bojinov's header from a Petrov corner after 22 minutes, which flew over the bar, was almost the first effort on goal.

Moments later, Petrov, who was finding acres of space on the left-hand side, cut inside and drilled a right-footed shot past Artur Boruc's left-hand post.

Gravesen was left inside at the break, replaced by Paul Caddis with former City striker Georgios Samaras on for Vennegoor of Hesselink.

Minutes after the restart Boruc had to rush from his goal to prevent Darius Vassell knocking the ball past him from close range but the Poland international had little chance in the 54th minute when Petrov ran on to a carefully-weighted pass from substitute Daniel Sturridge and drove home from 16 yards out.

Two minutes later, Boruc blocked another effort from the lively Vassell, the Celtic keeper recovering to collect the ball before it rolled over the line.

In the 66th minute debutant Paddy McCourt, on for Riordan, flashed a volley wide of the target from 10 yards out after he had latched on to a deep Caddis cross.

City, however, remained in control of the game, moving with more ease than the home side who, due to changes made, had a youthful look about them.

However, with 10 minutes left, the increasingly enthusiastic Celtic side equalised through McGowan who bundled the ball in from close range following a Caddis free-kick from wide on the right.

There was still time for Boruc to block a drive from City substitute Ched Evans and McGowan to blast the ball at the bar and over as both sides played out the final few moments with a fair amount of enthusiasm.

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