Celtic have given some wonderful European performances, but which are the best?
Celtic’s defeat to Barcelona last night, whose triumvirate of Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar ran riot, will rank as a low point in the club’s history. There have been some devastating nights for the Hoops, as they have often struggled to compete with Europe’s elite in recent years.
With a financial chasm developing between the Scottish Premier League and the major divisions on the continent, it has become increasingly difficult for the likes of Celtic to emerge from a European competition unscathed.
However, for all the heartache and pain the Hoops have suffered throughout the years, the Champions League (and its previous incarnation the European Cup) has also provided the club with some massive moments. The club has always had the potential to rise to the occasion, punching above their weight and overthrowing some of the more illustrious giants of European football.
Take a look at five of Celtic’s best European performances:
25th May 1967 - Celtic 2-1 Internazionale
The greatest night in Celtic’s history took place in the Estadio Nacional in Lisbon, when they lifted the European Cup for the first and only time to date.
Internazionale had won the tournament in two of the previous three years, and took the lead after just seven minutes through Sandro Mazzola’s penalty.
The Hoops showed no signs of trepidation however, and rallied to equalise through Tommy Gemmell’s strike on 63 minutes. Both sides tried to force a winner, but it was Stevie Chalmers who found one, hauling the Hoops into an 84th-minute lead.
Jock Stein’s men were revered for their ‘attacking’ style of play throughout, with Internazionale pilloried for their defensive-minded ‘catenaccio’ brand, and were thusly accredited with the nickname ‘Lisbon Lions’.
15th April 1970 - Celtic 2-1 Leeds
Celtic qualified for the European Cup final for the second time in the club’s history after overthrowing English giants Leeds United in front of a record attendance of 136,505 at Celtic Park.
The Scottish press suggested that the game had even united Glaswegians, with some Rangers attending the game to cheer on Celtic.
With Leeds trailing 1-0 from the first leg, they took the lead through Billy Bremner’s long-range effort after 14 minutes. With only 4,500 Leeds fans having made the trip from Yorkshire, the midfielder likened the atmosphere towards his goal as that of a funeral.
On 47 minutes, John Hughes nodded home an equaliser before Bobby Murdoch put the hosts in front on the night and effectively booked their passage to the final.
7th November 2012 - Celtic 2-1 Barcelona
Celtic took a huge leap towards the knock-out rounds of the Champions League with a dramatic victory over holders Barcelona in Glasgow.
Having narrowly lost out to a last-minute goal at the Nou Camp in their previous meeting, Neil Lennon’s men were fired up for the showdown and took a lead via Victor Wanyama’s fierce header.
Despite Pep Guardiola’s side dominating the lion’s share of possession, the Scots held firm and hit the Catalans with a late sucker punch, teenager Tony Watt firing past Victor Valdes to send the 58,000 crowd into raptures.
Lionel Messi added a late reply but it wouldn’t be enough to prevent Celtic holding on to one of the most impressive results in their history.
Tony Watt celebrates scoring for Celtic in the famous win over Barcelona
21st November 2006 - Celtic 1-0 Manchester United
Shunsuke Nakamura was revered in Glasgow for his set-piece deliveries, but none were more timely than his 30-yard free-kick against Manchester United in their penultimate home game of the 06/07 Champions League group stage.
The Hoops had won their previous two home games, but had also lost on the road to Man United and Benfica so knew another home victory was a huge boost to their hopes of progressing to the knockout rounds.
After keeping the English giants at bay for much of the game, the Japanese star curled his long-range effort into the top-right hand corner of Edwin van der Sar’s net after 80 minutes. There was still time for Artur Boruc to preserve all three points, blocking Louis Saha’s last-gasp spot-kick and all but secure Celtic’s passage into the last 16.
20th March 2003 - Liverpool 0-2 Celtic
With Celtic having squandered a lead in the first leg of their UEFA Cup semi-final, drawing 1-1 at Celtic Park, Liverpool were expected to progress to the final.
However it was Martin O’Neill’s men who secured a relatively smooth passage through, with Alan Thompson silencing the home support with a free-kick before John Hartson smashed home a late piledriver.
They would go on to play Jose Mourinho’s FC Porto in Seville, narrowly losing out 3-2.
Martin O'Neill - Celtic Manager and John Hartson