Ok! this is a little different from my first two articles but highlighting one of these matches in particular would not do justice.
Ok! this is a little different from my first two articles but highlighting one of these matches in particular would not do justice to the phenomenal achievements of Martin O’Neill and his team. Put your reading glasses on because this is going to be a long one.
“Come on whose next? We’ll take on anyone, how about eighteen times English league winners Liverpool?”
The season was 2002/03, Celtic had made a stuttering start to the season losing out on the Champions League group stages to FC Basel of Switzerland and falling behind Rangers in the SPL – little did the fans know we’d go on to record an amazing away record in Europe (for those fans reading this that did not watch Celtic this year, yes an away record I assure you its true).
The journey would begin in Glasgow against Lithuanian minnows FK Suduva and Celtic would set the benchmark for the season and signal their intent with an 8-1 victory, and the king, Henrik Larsson, getting a hat trick in the process. The second leg in Lithuania ended 2-0 to send Celtic through but the victory was assured from the first leg. One down, five to go.
Up came the Battle of Britain, Celtic FC versus Blackburn Rovers FC and to add spice to the fixture the manager of Rovers was former Rangers player and manager Graeme Souness. The first leg at Celtic Park ended 1-0 to Celtic and Graeme Souness hyped up the second leg by saying “Blackburn should have won the game and it was like watching men against boys,” and he further stated that in the second leg if “Celtic scored one goal then Blackburn would score three.” Larsson and Chris Sutton (a former title winning Blackburn player might I add) shut him up to seal a 2-0 away victory (see bhoys and ghirls I wasn’t lying an away win, read on to hear of another 2-0 away win in England) and a 3-0 aggregate win.
Whose next? Celta Vigo the team who hindered us most in the UEFA Cup. Celtic ran out 1-0 winners in Glasgow and off we went to Spain. John Hartson scored a crucial goal in this match to set up a nervy finish – a 2-1 win for Vigo but a 2-2 aggregate score and Celtic go through on away goals.
Bring on the Germans. Celtic welcomed Stuttgart VFB to Celtic Park and after a false start and going one goal down to a Kevin Kuranyi 27th minute strike, Paul Lambert and Shaun Maloney both scored to make it 2-1 at half time, thankfully for Celtic. Stillian Petrov sealed the match with a stunning angled drive, off to Germany we went with a confident strut. The game started well in Celtic’s favour with them going 2-0 up but eventually losing three goals to see off the Germans 5-4 on aggregate.
Come on whose next? We’ll take on anyone, how about eighteen times English league winners Liverpool? Then came Battle of Britain 2.0, Liverpool FC had lost out on a second group phase place to our conquerors FC Basel. Once again Celtic had home advantage first leg at Celtic Park, a 1-1 draw in Glasgow set up an exciting second leg down south with Liverpool, clear favourites to win as some of our bhoys and ghirls know we have a crap away record in Europe – surely we wouldn’t score a goal never mind win and two goals that would be laughable. Two goals were just what the Dhoctor ordered, a stunning long range free kick from Alan Thompson and John Hartson to seal the deal.
The fans are buzzing there’s optimism around the place, people are questioning can we win it? Some are saying we will win it – all I know is that we’re in the semi finals and up next is either Lazio, FC Porto or Boavista.
Written by DavidT_CFC
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