Neil Lennon tells the story of when Celtic beat Barcelona

Neil Lennon won many things as both a player and manager of the mighty Glasgow Celtic and lead the team on and off the field of play throughout his times at Celtic Park. However, one victory that didn’t garner a trophy of any kind, yet somehow ranks against his greatest achievements in the game, is his 2-1 victory over FC Barcelona in the UEFA Champions League group stage way back in 2012.

07.11.2012 Glasgow, Scotland. Tony Watt and Victor Valdes in action during the Champions League game between Celtic and Barcelona from Celtic Park.

Celtic were up against arguably the best footballing team of all time, in a match up with a side who were fresh off of the back of dominating the European scene. Beating Manchester United the year before in the Champions League Final at Wembley, the Catalan club were in town for another bust-up with the Hoops.

After narrowly succumbing to a 2-1 defeat in the Camp Nou beforehand earlier in the group stage, Celtic were looking to take something from the game at Parkhead to keep their hopes of qualifying for the Last-16 alive that November night in Glasgow’s East End. It also just happened to be that the club was celebrating it’s 125-year anniversary on this occasion.

07.11.2012 Glasgow, Scotland. Victor Wanyama, Lionel Messi, Jordi Alba and Andres Iniesta in action during the Champions League game between Celtic and Barcelona from Celtic Park.

Well, Neil Lennon was talking to The Essential Football Podcast on the game itself and the lead up to the match, and has revealed before the game at home he and his assistant went to see the Catalonians in action in La Liga. They happened to be playing Deportivo La Coruna that evening in the Spanish top-flight, and they went three up within 12 minutes – much to the disbelief of then Celtic boss Lennon.

In a hysterical recollection, Lennon told the boys on the podcast that he remembered turning to his assistant at that time and saying: “I think we’re in trouble here!” Well, in a remarkable turnaround after that, Deportivo managed to get back into the game and it finished a crazy 5-4. Lennon recalls how he thought that set-pieces would be key if we were to get anything against the European Champions that night in Glasgow.

Well, his intuition served him well, for it was a Victor Wanyama headed goal that saw us take the lead and then Tony Watt broke away late in the game to send us into dreamland. It would finish 2-1 in the end up, with Lionel Messi getting on the scoresheet. It was a special night at Paradise on our 125th anniversary and will never be forgotten. One of the magical moments in Celtic Football Club’s unbroken history.

Watch Lennon recall the hilarious situation in Spain whilst scouting Barcelona…

Paul Gillespie

About Author

I'm a Garngad Bhoy through and through. My first ever Celtic game was a friendly against Italian side Parma at Celtic Park, in 2002. Currently a student of English Literature and Education at the University of Strathclyde for my sins. Favourite game would be a toss up between beating Manchester United with that Naka freekick, or the game against the Oldco when Hesselink scored in the dying seconds. I'm still convinced Cal Mac is wasted playing that far back.

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