Fans get kick out of Football at Fenway

Fans get kick out of Football at Fenway

BOSTON -- The fans were on their feet at Fenway Park on Wednesday, yet this time is wasn't for the hometown Boston Red Sox.

Instead, it was for the first ever Football at Fenway match between Celtic F.C. of Glasgow and Sporting C.P. of Lisbon. Celtic won the contest on penalty kicks, 6-5, in front of 32,162.

"It was an interesting setup," Celtic manager Neil Lennon said. "The history and the tradition of the stadium as well, it is not as corporate as a lot of stadiums would be.

"It is a different kind of atmosphere and I think we enjoyed it. To come and play a football game here was quite unique."

Tied 5-5 in penalty kicks after a 1-1 draw over 90 minutes of play, Sporting forward Liedson then missed the sixth kick, sending the ball sailing high into the right field bleachers. Celtic forward Paul McGowan then placed the ball in the back of the net to break the tie and hand Celtic the win and the Football at Fenway trophy.

"We have good technicians, and they all fancy taking a penalty. Even some of the young guys do as well," Lennon said. "I was really pleased, because it could mean a lot later on in our season. We have players who are brave enough to take them. Overall, I was very, very pleased."

Before the penalty kicks, Celtic got on the board first. After a quiet first half, forward Georgios Samaras converted a penalty kick in the 71st minute after getting fouled in the box.

Sporting would not be outdone. In the 81st minute, forward Helder Postiga scored on a header in the box, tying the score at 1.

The pitch, which extended from the third-base line to the right-field bullpens, was smaller than a normal soccer field. While the width of 75 meters was the same, the length of the pitch was 98 meters instead of the usual 110.

Along with the size difference, the pitcher's mound was flattened and sod was placed over the majority of the infield.

"It was a little strange playing here," Sporting manager Paulo Sergio said. "We have the habit of the crowd being in line with the pitch and when I looked today, it seemed too long. I had the impression that to the left of me was too large. But it is a mythical stadium and I will, from here, become a fan of the Red Sox and be more curious about baseball."

While the grounds crew will restore the field before the Red Sox return next Friday, Fenway Park will be in better condition then expected. Rain and thunderstorms were anticipated during the match, but the only rain that fell came hours before it.

Even the chance of inclement weather didn't stop fans from attending. With the majority of the crowd rooting for Celtic, and the bleachers and field-level seats filled to capacity, the best seat in the house was atop the famed Green Monster.

"I think this is amazing. I am really impressed with the field. I am just loving it," said Sporting fan Mitchell Miskell from Duxbury, Mass., who had seats on the Monster. "I have never been to Fenway Park for a baseball game, but I know this is 20-million times better."

Rob Brule, a Celtic fan from Waterford, Conn., bought tickets the moment he heard about the event, and drove over two hours to watch the two teams square off.

"I think it is fitting that the game is at Fenway. There is no other place you would rather watch Celtic play," Brule said. "I will never forget this moment, and that I have been here the night that they played."

Quinn Roberts is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.