Celtic: Barcelona left shocked in Scotland
7/11/12 – a date which every single Celtic supporter will remember for the rest of their lives. The date was already special as it marks the club’s 125th anniversary, but their 2-1 victory over one of the greatest teams in the world was the icing on top.
It’s not every day a Scottish club like Celtic will beat a team like Barcelona in a competition like the Champions League. But it was the day the Bhoys in Green stunned football pundits around the world, as they defied all odds.
Going into this fixture, Celtic were definitely the underdogs, even though they were narrowly defeated away to Barcelona. Celtic may have been labelled as the small fries, but that didn’t keep them from thinking positive and playing like they had won the competition 4 times over themselves.
Ahead of the monstrous game, Neil Lennon made four changes to the side which drew against Dundee United on the weekend. Scott Brown was ruled out due to illness, while Thomas Rogne and Emilio Izaguirre were left out because of injuries. Youngster Tony Watt was dropped off the starting line up as Mikael Lustig, Efe Ambrose, Georgios Samaras and Miku made way into the starting 11.
?Ahead of the match, Celtic fans decorated Celtic Park in honour of the club’s 125th anniversary. Prepared by the Green Brigade, Celtic Park was wreathed in green and white – a stunning display to join the already energetic and high powered atmosphere travelling throughout the stadium.
Barcelona started off the game in front of a crowd of 60,000 at Celtic Park. Both teams took a while to settle into the game, but it was the Bhoys in Green who took the first jump at the scoreboard. Victor Wanyama tore up the pitch towards goal, sending the Barcelona defence into panic mode.
He won the Hoops a corner, which then resulted into a goal for Celtic. Wanyama jumped above both teams to head Charlie Mulgrew’s fine corner into the net; and if anyone asks, Wanyama is the one responsible for the earthquake caused by Celtic fans which shook up the ground in Celtic Park.
Six minutes later, Celtic had a sufficient chance to double their lead against Barcelona. Adam Matthews came charging down the left flank and almost received his first assist for the club, if only Victor Valdes had not intercepted the ball from Georgios Samaras.
?Barcelona were buoyant as they sped towards goal. At the half hour mark, Lionel Messi powered a ball which Forster just got his fingertips to. Alexis also joined Messi in hitting the woodwork as Barcelona increased the pressure, but they failed in gaining anything for their efforts as Celtic walked off the pitch at half time with their 1-0 lead.
Barcelona started off the second half as the stronger side. After a series of corners from Barcelona, Celtic still managed to keep a clean sheet thanks to some excellent defending from their players. Fraser Forster was even down on all fours as Barcelona continued to fire balls from left, right and centre at the Englishmen.
It was Forster’s exceptional goalkeeping which gave Celtic their second goal of the night. Forster’s ball deceived the likes of Xavi, which gave the chance for Tony Watt to slot the ball past the Barcelona keeper – a reflection of Alex Morgan’s World Cup goal against Japan last year.
“It’s the most special goal of my life. I don’t know if I’ll ever score a goal as important as that in my career, the second in a 2-1 win,” said Tony Watt.
There still might have been 7 or so minutes left in normal time, but Celtic fans were celebrating as if they had already won the Champions League. Not even Messi’s quick tap in could kill their mood. As the referee blew his whistle to signal full time, the roar of the crowd quickly deafened everyone watching from home. The game ended 2-1 and Neil Lennon’s Bhoys had just made history.
“I think it´s one of the greatest nights in the club´s recent history and very poignant on our 125th anniversary,” said the manager. “To play Barcelona in such a prestigious game and then win the game under huge difficulties with the squad decimated by injuries and illness – the players are heroes, they are heroes to me.”
“I can’t speak highly enough of their performances tonight, and they will go down in the history books as the side that beat probably the best team in the world.”
Fraser Forster hailed the fighting spirit of his team mates against the Spanish giants:
“It was a fantastic team performance. I’m delighted to have made some saves and contributed, but we put up an amazing fight for the 90 minutes. We had a lot of injuries, but we coped with it ever so well and I’m delighted with the result. I like the challenge of the big games – they’re the ones you dream about playing in as a kid.”
?With 5 attempts on goal, 5 on target, 11% possession and 166 total passes, compared to a whopping 23 attempts on goal, 14 on target, 89% possession and 955 total passes, not only have Celtic raised the bar in the Champions League for their up and coming rivals, but they have also boosted the Scottish League and their own reputation in stunning fashion.
It even left Rod Stewart in tears by the end of the match.
Some would even say it was sweeter than 2004…..