Ten of Celtic’s Greatest Nights in Europe

Celtic have treated the supporters to many memorable European nights over the years and vanquished a number of famous rivals along the way. Here are 10 of the greatest triumphs in European football.

The Hoops became the first British team to be crowned champions of Europe when they swept Internazionale aside in 1967. All but one member of the 15-man squad was born within 10 miles of Celtic Park and this merry band of Glaswegians went to Lisbon and emerged triumphant. They made a disastrous start, as Jim Craig felled Renato Cappellini in the box and Alessandro Mazzola coolly slotted the penalty past Ronnie Simpson. Inter were known for their disciplined defending, but Celtic battled back in style and turned the game on its head with their attacking brilliance.

Craig teed up Tommy Gemmell for the equaliser after the break and Steve Chalmers deflected Bobby Murdoch’s long-range strike into the net with seven minutes remaining. Celtic ended the game with 39 attempts on goal, 13 of which were on target. They hit the woodwork twice and they were extremely good value for the win. They became known as the Lisbon Lions and they won a record-breaking five trophies during that phenomenal campaign.

Celtic 2-1 Leeds Utd, 15 April 1970

Three years later the Bhoys took on the mighty Leeds Utd in the European Cup semi-final. Hampden Park was rocking as 138,000 fans packed into the ground to see Jock Stein’s men take on the English champions. Celtic carried a 1-0 aggregate lead into the game after a tense victory at Elland Road, and they dismantled Don Revie’s side in the second leg. John Hughes and Bobby Murdoch were on target and the win propelled Celtic into a second European Cup final. They sadly lost out to Feyenoord in a tense game that went into extra-time, but fans that witnessed the triumph at Hampden Park had memories to cherish throughout their lives.

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Celtic 2-0 Real Madrid, 5 March 1980

Thousands of supporters queued in freezing conditions in January 1980 to secure a coveted ticket to see Celtic take on Los Blancos at the old Celtic Park. Two months of eager anticipation followed, before the big game finally took place on March 5. Real rolled into town full of confidence and blessed with big-name talents like Juanito, Vicente Del Bosque and José Antonio Camacho.

Yet they were no match for Celtic’s marauding right-back, Alan Sneddon, who moved into an increasingly advanced role as the game wore on. After 52 minutes, he cut inside and unleashed a piledriver, which Ramon could only parry, allowing George McCluskey to tap in. He delivered a peach of a cross for John Doyle to head home on 74 minutes, and Celtic cruised to a famous victory in the European Cup quarter-finals. Alas, they lost the second leg 3-0 in Madrid.

Celtic 5-0 Sporting Lisbon,  2 November  1983

Celtic were staring UEFA Cup elimination in the face after losing 2-0 the first leg of their second-round clash with Sporting Lisbon. The Hoops had a mountain to climb in the return fixture, but they proved themselves to be more than capable. It was the first time they had worn their new lime green strip at Parkhead, and it proved to be a good omen as they played some dazzling football. Tommy Burns was at his brilliant best, Brian McClair came of age and Tom McAdam and Danny McGrain marshalled the defence superbly. Burns headed Celtic into the lead in the 17th minute, McAdam levelled the aggregate scores from a corner and McClair made it three before the break. Celtic scored twice more in the second half to secure a resounding victory.

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Celtic 5-4 Partizan Belgrade, 27 September 1989

Celtic were handed a tricky opening round tie against Partizan Belgrade in the first round of the 1989 European Cup Winners’ Cup. They lost the first leg 2-1 in Yugoslavia and they needed some heroics at Parkhead to soar through to the next round. Polish striker Jackie Dziekanowski hit four goals for Celtic, a feat the Daily Record called “a personal Rambo-style scoring mission”. Every time Celtic scored, Partizan found an equaliser, until Dziekanowski finally put the Hoops 5-3 up. With just two minutes left on the clock, Celtic looked set to go through, but Partizan broke their hearts with a late strike to make it 5-4. It finished 6-6 on aggregate and Celtic were eliminated by the away goal rule.

Liverpool 0-2 Celtic, 20 March 2003

Premier League heavyweights Liverpool escaped Celtic Park with a 1-1 draw in the quarter-finals of the UEFA Cup in 2003, and many commentators expected them to close out victory at Anfield. Yet Celtic had other ideas, and goals from Alan Thompson and John Hartson saw them cruise to a 2-0 victory. They went all the way to the final that season, where they eventually lost out to Jose Mourinho’s Porto after extra-time. Henrik Larsson grabbed a brace for Celtic, but they ended up falling victim to Derlei’s 115th minute strike.

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Celtic 1-0 Barcelona, 11 March 2004

Celtic were handed a nightmare draw against Barcelona in the fourth round of the UEFA Cup in 2004. They are one of the most successful teams in the history of European football, they are always fighting for the biggest trophies and back then they boasted a team of legends, featuring Xavi, Ronaldinho, Edgar Davids, Carles Puyol, Luis Enrique, Marc Overmars, Javier Saviola, Philip Cocu and Patrick Kluivert. Yet on a stirring night in Glasgow that collection of superstars proved no match for Celtic, who earned a 1-0 win thanks to Thompson’s strike. They then went to the Nou Camp and secured a goalless draw to advance to the next round.

Celtic 1-0 Man Utd, November 21, 2006

Celtic have dominated Scottish football over the past couple of decades and if you check out the Scottish football markets here, you will note that they the overwhelming favourites to win a ninth consecutive Premier League title next season. They live for big European games, where they get to test their mettle against the best in the business, and in 2006-07 there were few better than Man Utd. That year they had eight players in the EPL Team of the Year, they won the Premier League at a canter and they went to the Champions League semi-finals, with Cristiano Ronaldo and Wayne Rooney leading the charge. Yet Celtic conquered them thanks to a superb free-kick from Shunsuke Nakamura in the Champions League group stage, a result that sent the Hoops through to the second round of the competition for the first time in their history.

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Celtic 2-1 AC Milan, 3 October 2007

The following year the Bhoys were at it again as they stunned reigning European champions AC Milan in the Champions League group stage. AC Milan boasted the phenomenal attacking talents of Kaka, who was ably supported by the likes of Andrea Pirlo, Clarence Seedorf and Gennaro Gattuso. Yet Celtic Park witnessed a tigerish display from Scott Brown and co in the Hoops’ midfield, and that inspired Celtic to a famous 2-1 victory. Stephen McManus handed the hosts the lead on 62 minutes, before Kaka equalised from the penalty spot. Celtic Park then erupted when Gary Caldwell bundled in a late winner.

Celtic 2-1 Barcelona, 7 November 2012

Lionel Messi looked at his teammates in sheer disbelief after Neil Lennon’s side toppled the reigning European champions in 2012. Many regard this Barcelona team as the greatest in history, moulded by Pep Guardiola, playing tiki-taka football and conquering all and sundry through hypnotic interchanges between Messi, Xavi and Andres Iniesta. Yet Celtic pulled off an astonishing victory courtesy of a majestic header from Victor Wanyama and a fairy-tale strike from teenager Tony Watt. Barcelona enjoyed 89% of the possession, completed 955 passes to Celtic’s 166 and had 23 shots on goal, 14 of them on target, but Fraser Forster produced heroics between the sticks and kept the visitors at bay until Messi’s stoppage-time strike. It certainly ranks as one of the club’s greatest nights in European football and fans will hope to see many more like it going forwards.

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