Celtic’s most memorable Champions League campaign came to a halt last night with a 2-0 defeat from Juventus in Turin.
An epic 12 match campaign came to an end after creating memories that will last a lifetime- catapulting the club back into the spotlight after a four year absence from football’s most prestigious tournament.
Inevitably some players will not be with us next season but with the blueprint established Celtic Park will be a high priority for aspirational players throughout the game.
Players at clubs in Belgium or Israel, or out of contract and forgotten will jump at an approach from Celtic knowing that they can follow in the footsteps of Gary Hooper, Victor Wanyama or Fraser Forster by being involved in the cutting edge of the European game.
As last night’s disappointing conclusion to the campaign begins to fade I’ve picked out the top ten highlights from Celtic’s Champions League return.
- Tony Watt’s low shot across Victor Valdes to put Celtic 2-0 up on Barcelona will take some beating in the years ahead. The tension of a never ending second half, defending Wamyama’s opener was broken when the substitute from Coatbridge buried his shot into the net as Celtic Pasrk- and the footballing world looked on at Barcelona’s first defeat of the season.
- Amazingly after an injury time defeat in Barcelona there was some expectation that Celtic could take a point from Barca at home- and perhaps compete for third place and a Europa League place. Midway through the first half Wanyama bulleted home a header from a corner and suddenly the dream was reality with Celtic ahead of Barcelona.
- After a 0-0 draw at home to Benfica most fans had prepared themselves for a tough campaign- convincing themselves that it was just good to be back in the big time. From Wanyama winning a 40-60 challenge in midfield against Spartak Moscow to Mikel Lustog’s cross to Hooper’s devastating finish Celtic demonstrated that they could play and compete in the Champions League
- An away win! Samaras’ flashing header in the 90th minute finally brought an end to the boring never ending stories about Celtic’s away record in the Champions League. Having gone ahead then fallen behind the victory was sweet with the introduction of James Forrest after Spartak had gone down to ten men indicating the confidence of Celtic to rewrite history.
- On a wave of emotion, the day after celebrating 125 years on from Celtic’s birth in St Mary’s The Green Brigade arranged a tifo display that was beamed around the world. Setting the scene for an epic win over Barcelona images of the display flooded social media sites with fans in awe ahead of a night to remember.
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