Celtic drawing Valencia in the last 32 of the Europa League has sparked memories of the last tantalising tie between the two sides.

In 2001, Celtic dropped out of the Champions League and were handed the toughest draw possible in the UEFA Cup third round.

Valencia, fresh off the back of back-to-back Champions League finals, stood between Celtic and European football post-Christmas.

In a tense first leg, Celtic lost 1-0 in the Mestalla. Goalkeeper Rab Douglas had a fine game for Celtic, keeping the score at only one.

Momo Sylla tries to take on the Valencia defence on his own.(Photo Credit: Ross Kinnaird/ALLSPORT)

What followed at Celtic Park was something very special. A raucous Celtic crowd roared their heroes on from the start.

With Celtic taking the game to Valencia at all costs, the Spaniards dug deep to thwart the Scottish champions.

Santiago Canizares produced a wonder save to deny Henrik Larsson on the goal line. Lubomir Moravcik and Chris Sutton had chances as Celtic set about levelling up the tie.

And just before half time, the fervent crowd nearly took the roof clean off Parkhead.

Larsson curled a sensational effort past Canizares and Celtic were level. The only thing stopping Celtic battering the Valencia goal was the referee’s whistle.

Larsson celebrates his stunning strike, levelling the tie. (Photo Credit: Dave Rogers/ALLSPORT)

Los Che’s class began to show in the second half, with the Spanish side coming close to killing the tie on numerous occasions.

Bobby Petta cleared a header off the line, just about denying Valencia a crucial away goal.

As extra time loomed, one thing stood out about the night – John Carew v Bobo Balde.

It was like watching a heavyweight wrestling match at times. Two men in peak physical condition doing their all against each other.

The whole night was littered with incidents involving the Norwegian striker up against the Celtic defender. As Carew was subbed late on, he made a point of acknowledging his opponent before going off.

It was a true mark of respect, in a tie that had been played in a furious but fair manner. No one really deserved to lose, but penalties were used to decide the outcome.

Mista slots home the decisive penalty, stunning the Parkhead crowd. (Photo Credit: Dave Rogers/ALLSPORT)

Spot kick agony

The noise around Celtic Park during the penalties was immense. The noise of whistling and the sight of waving scarves greeted every Valencia penalty taker.

After Douglas made a vital save, Larsson had a chance to put Celtic 3-1 up. The iconic Swede horrendously fluffed his penalty high and wide. Celtic’s advantage was short lived.

And then Stan Petrov missed as well. Celtic’s big night in front of a passionate crowd was heading towards a glorious failure.

With the last penalty in regulation, Douglas produced the save that kept Celtic in it. Sudden death came and after one successful penalty each, Joos Valgaeren missed…twice!

After his first miss, the referee penalised Canizares for moving off his line. Valgaeren ran up again and changed his side for his second penalty.

It didn’t fool the keeper, and he made another stop. Mista stayed calm and cool to finish Celtic off.

Celtic would have taken some stopping in that competition had they been able to see off Valencia.

That was a team at the peak of their powers under Martin O’Neill.

A year later, they’d reach the UEFA Cup final. However they would end up losing to Porto in extra time.

The rematch

In February, both teams will do battle again, this time in the Europa League. If Celtic can match the performance of O’Neill’s men this time, they’ll go very close to gaining revenge.

Although they lost the tie, the return leg at Celtic Park will live long in the memory of every Hoops fan who was there.

And for us who watched at home on TV, even we were moved by the noise generated that night.

It would be difficult to match it this time around, however if one place can do it, it’s Celtic Park.

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