The day after Celtic celebrated their 125th anniversary, the class of 2012 gave Neil Lennon, the fans and the whole club a magnificent birthday present.The hours leading up to Celtic’s toughest task this season didn’t go exactly to plan. When you are playing Barcelona, you undeniably want to have your strongest team out on the pitch. Celtic did not.
Leading scoring Gary Hooper, club captain Scott Brown, speedy full-back Emilio Izaguirre and James Forrest were all deemed not fit to play, or even make the bench.Despite this, the side Neil Lennon put out were ruthless and displayed wonderful tenacity.
Celtic, against all odds, took the lead in the 21st minute when Victor Wanyama sent a towering header past Victor Valdes in the Barcelona goal.
The Celtic fans, who were all part of the pre-match full stadium display, raised the noise which would have intimidated even the most experienced players.
From that point on, it was attack after attack from the Catalan giants. But as Sky Sports pundit Gary Neville put it, “It was controlled defending.”
Towards the end of the match, Barcelona turned to their bench and made three changes. Cue 60,000 gulps. Cesc Fabregas, David Villa and Gerard Pique all came on. But it was Celtic’s substitute, 18-year-old Tony Watt, who would make the headlines.A long ball from Fraser Forster was mistimed by Xavi, and Watt ran through and finished like he had been doing it at this level for years.
Despite a late goal from Lionel Messi, Celtic held on to the result that will live long in the memory. This was a brilliant night for Celtic and the whole of Scottish football.
Well, maybe not if you’re from the blue half of Glasgow.