Neil Lennon says he knew Olivier Ntcham would score when he bore down on goal in the Stadio Olimpico last Thursday.
The clock read 94:09 when the Frenchman dinked in Celtic’s winner against Lazio – sitting goalkeeper Thomas Strakosha on his backside and lifting the ball over his dead.
The move that brought about a historic moment – Celtic’s first ever win in Italy – may have happened incredibly quickly, however Lennon never doubted his midfield substitute.
“I knew he would score,” he told the official Celtic website. “It was a great ball from Odsonne, who was outstanding, just breathtaking at times, and he deserved a goal for his play.
“And I just fancied Ollie. I knew he’d dink it and we needed him because they were trying to force the issue and we just needed some fresh legs on. So not only did the starting 11 play well, but the substitutes made a huge contribution, and to win here and in the manner that we did is just spectacular.
“I thought we thoroughly deserved the win and it was just an unbelievable night for the club, an unbelievable night for the supporters who were amazing, an unbelievable night for me personally, but for the players, it’s all about them. They’re very, very special.”
Lennon reaction on Ntcham may not be shared
Lennon may not have doubted 23-year-old Ntcham but the majority of the Celtic support watching around the world would have. The Frenchman’s first touch was an awful one after being slipped in by Edouard. In a funny way it probably made his mind for the finish up. The only way he could really score was by chipping the keeper.
A week may have passed since that moment but many of the Hoops faithful won’t have tired of watching it. It does have the feeling of an iconic moment in the club’s recent history – akin to that of Henrik Larsson against Boavista or Nakamura against Manchester United.
Ntcham will likely not produce a more magical moment either. Well until the knockout rounds at least.