When you think of Martin O’Neill and a 6-2 game, you tend to think of the demolition derby in August 2000. However, there was another 6-2 victory that stands out during the Irishman’s time at Celtic. It came the week before Seville and the memory of the match haunts Neil Lennon to this day, if reports in the Daily Record are to be believed.
Celtic hosted Dundee on 14 May 2003. A week earlier, the Hoops had narrowly defeated Hearts to remain level with Rangers on 91 points. The champions trailed Rangers by two goals on goal difference going into the match. Thus, the Bhoys wasted no time in going on the offensive as Henrik Larsson gave Celtic a 14th minute lead. Former Celtic youth player, Barry Smith then levelled for the visitors ten minutes later to stun a packed Paradise into silence.
Parkhead was soon bouncing again with a quick fire double from Alan Thompson within a minute of Celtic conceding. It was all guns blazing again after the break as Celtic matched their first half scoring tally with three goals coming courtesy of a Maloney brace and Mjallby goal on 77 minutes.
6-1 would have been magnificent, giving Celtic a three point and three goal lead at the top of the table. Instead, they conceded a sloppy 90th minute goal, bringing the score to 6-2 and cutting the Hoops’ goal difference advantage to two.
Rangers played Hearts at Tynecastle the next day, winning 2-0 with second half goals. The goal difference was level, with Rangers ahead by one goal on goals scored. We all know how it ended and it isn’t something I wish to relive.
17 years on, the late goal still haunts Neil Lennon. Had Celtic beaten Dundee 6-1 they’d have gone into the last day with a one goal advantage at the top. It may have changed the psychology on the final day and, according to the Daily Record, it’s something the manager still uses as motivation for his players to ensure they rack up the goals and maintain their focus.
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