Celtic's win over Barca gives fans reason to believe

LONDON Thu Nov 8, 2012 4:53pm IST

Celtic's Kelvin Wilson (R) challenges Barcelona's Cesc Fabregas during their Champions League Group G soccer match at Celtic Park, Glasgow in Scotland, November 7, 2012. REUTERS/Russell Cheyne

Celtic's Kelvin Wilson (R) challenges Barcelona's Cesc Fabregas during their Champions League Group G soccer match at Celtic Park, Glasgow in Scotland, November 7, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Russell Cheyne

Inside the Peshawar school

Inside the Peshawar school

The aftermath inside the Pakistan school where at least 132 students and nine staff members were killed by Taliban gunmen.  Pictures 

LONDON (Reuters) - Celtic fans celebrated through the night after the team beat Barcelona 2-1 in the Champions League at Parkhead on Wednesday to give their supporters what is being described as the second greatest night in the club's history.

In the week that the Scottish champions marked their 125th birthday, goals from Victor Wanyama and teenager Tony Watt gave Celtic their greatest international success since they beat Inter Milan to lift the European Cup in Lisbon in 1967.

"This is mind-blowing, this is Celtic 2, Barcelona 0," a match commentator exclaimed when Watt scored Celtic's second with seven minutes to play before adding at the final whistle: "Wow, wow wow ! A phenomenal result for (manager) Neil Lennon and his legends in hoops."

Among the passionate Celtic fans, rock star Rod Stewart was seen with tears in his eyes as Celtic gave him and the 55,000 ecstatic fans in the stadium reasons to believe they had just seen something very special.

Celtic were only narrowly beaten by Barca at the Camp Nou two weeks ago, and while they were praised for their resilience in that 2-1 defeat, this 2-1 success - despite Barca having 84 per cent possession of the ball - represents one of the biggest upsets in the Champions League for years.

Even the English editions of Britain's papers hailed their victory in banner headlines on Thursday with the Daily Mirror and Daily Mail giving them precedence over Chelsea and Manchester United's victories against Shakhtar Donetsk and Braga respectively.

The result left Celtic with a strong chance of making it into the last 16.

Barcelona lead Group G with nine points, followed by Celtic on seven, Benfica on four and Spartak Moscow bottom with three.

Celtic's remaining games are at Benfica on November 20 and at home to Spartak on December 5 but if Barca beat Spartak in their next match as seems likely, Celtic will only need a draw in Lisbon to qualify.

Lennon, who could hardly contain his joy at the end, said afterwards it was one of the greatest nights of his career and he hoped it would help restore pride in Scottish football.

Celtic's Old Firm rivals Rangers, the country's other traditional powerhouses, have been demoted to the fourth tier after going into administration and Craig Levein was sacked from his role as national team manager after Scotland's miserable start to their World Cup qualifying campaign.

Heart of Midlothian are now in a severe financial crisis which could end with them being wound-up, so Wednesday's victory was a welcome relief - at least for Scottish neutrals.

"This is a great footballing country with great history whether it be club wise or nationally and it has produced some of the greatest players to play the game," Lennon said.

"It's had a lull but when we came into this competition we wanted to gain respect for the players, for the club, because it has a great reputation, and for the game here and I hope that it's given the game a huge boost.

"We've just beaten the best team in the world," Lennon said afterwards.

"The players have just had two of the severest examinations they will ever get in their career and come through it with flying colours."

Watt, who is just 18, added: "We've just beaten Barcelona in the Champions League. There is nothing better, is there?"

Kenyan midfielder Wanyama headed past Victor Valdes in the 21st minute with Celtic's only effort of the first half while Lionel Messi and Alexis Sanchez were both denied by the woodwork for Barca.

Celtic goalkeeper Fraser Forster repulsed Messi in the second period before Watt latched on to a long clearance from Forster to score in the 83rd minute.

Messi netted in the first minute of stoppage time but it was too late for Barcelona who controlled the ball for much of the match but for once could not turn their dominance into goals. (Reporting by Mike Collett; editing by Amlan Chakraborty)

Sports Roundup

REUTERS SHOWCASE

26/11 Accused

26/11 Accused

Pakistan to appeal bail for Mumbai attack "mastermind".  Full Article 

Android For cars

Android For cars

Exclusive: Google aiming to go straight into car with next Android – sources.  Full Article 

Mass Stabbing

Mass Stabbing

Eight children killed in Australia in reported mass stabbing.  Full Article 

In Distress

In Distress

Former SpiceJet owner leading rescue plan: reports.  Full Article 

PM's Moves

PM's Moves

Modi moves in to speed up $300 billion stuck projects.  Full Article 

Losing Popularity

Losing Popularity

Dalai Lama's star waning in the West, China official says.  Full Article 

Tis' The Season

Tis' The Season

Stars around the world wish you Happy Holidays.  Video 

Cyber Warfare

Cyber Warfare

For N.Korea's cyber army, long-term target may be telecoms, utility grids.  Full Article 

Reuters India Mobile

Reuters India Mobile

Get the latest news on the go. Visit Reuters India on your mobile device   Full Coverage