Celtic manager Neil Lennon has been reflecting back on his class of 2012’s 2-1 win over Barcelona at Celtic Park.
It’s 16 years to the day since a David Marshall-inspired Celtic side drew 0-0 at the Nou Camp. Lennon was part of the side that gained the impressive draw that night, but he’s admitted that his victory against Barca eight years later was even more memorable.
Victor Wanyama and Tony Watt scored the goals that condemned Tito Vilanova’s then unbeatables to their first loss of the season. It also came just two days after the Hoops’ 125th anniversary too. Everything about that night was just magical.
And Lennon, speaking to Celtic’s official website about the experience, couldn’t help but speak glowingly of his greatest ever result in management.
“As a manager, I think you get a lot more pride and satisfaction out of it. As a player, you’re part of the team but as manager, you select the team obviously, and you try to get them to play the way you want them to play, and you have to pick your way through the game.
“The fitness levels of the players has to be at a certain level as well because of the speed Barcelona play at, and the players in 2012 showed great fortitude because two weeks earlier we had lost in the 93rd minute in the Nou Camp after another great defensive display.
“That was galling for them but the way they responded was magnificent. So you take a lot of pride in that as manager. The Barcelona night was really what Celtic is all about and where we wanted to take the club, back on to that stage and make us respectable again in Europe.”
A night that won’t ever be forgotten
As Lennon says, it took even more courage from the team considering we lost 2-1 in the last moments at the Nou Camp just two weeks beforehand. The fact we managed to bounce back and take the points the second time around showed a legendary level of character.
It was also possible for Celtic to have won that game 3-0 as opposed to 2-1. Moments before Lionel Messi scored a late consolation, Watt was in on goal again. However, Javier Mascherano managed to get back and stop him from making it a really embarrassing night for the La Liga giants.
But you can’t be greedy! The result itself will stand the test of time, and will still be remembered regardless of how far into the future you want to go.
Of course, Marshall’s stunning UEFA Cup display in Barcelona has done the same. He performed heroically to keep out the likes of Luis Garcia and Ronaldinho. Being a stand-in for Rab Douglas, it’s the night that effectively made him as a Celtic player.
Unfortunately, Villarreal would go on to knock Celtic out of the UEFA Cup in the quarter-final stage in that season. A 2-0 loss in Spain followed a 1-1 draw at Celtic Park, with Marshall failing to produce similar heroics this time around.
It’s difficult to compare the two games against Barcelona however and pick which one meant more. But given the financial disparity between the two and the class of player both sides had, the 2012 one may just pip it.