Stephen McManus acknowledged FC Barcelona were in a different class as the Catalan giants again triumphed at Celtic FC in the first knockout round first leg. The Catalan giants grabbed the distinction of being the only team to have recorded a UEFA Champions League victory at Celtic Park three seasons ago and they repeated the feat coming from behind twice courtesy of a Lionel Messi double and a wonder strike from Thierry Henry.
"We're disappointed to lose the game but it shows how far we've come," McManus told uefa.com. "There's no shame in getting beat by a team like Barcelona but I felt we didn't pass the ball as well as we should have and that was the biggest disappointment for us. We were happy to go in 2-1 ahead at half-time but you know against that calibre of opposition it's not just about 45 minutes. It's about the whole 90 and unfortunately we didn't manage to hold out."
Despite leading twice in the first half through goals from Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink and European debutant Barry Robson, Celtic succumbed to the onslaught of pressure as the Blaugrana turned in one of their best performances of the season. The defeat means Celtic now require a 2-0 win in the return leg to progress to the quarter-finals and while McManus is not conceding defeat yet he admits his side face a mammoth task against one of the tournament favourites.
"They're another level up from us," said the Scotland international defender. "There's only so many teams that can win this tournament and they're certainly one of them. We need to try and get through [at the Camp Nou]. We know it's going to be a big ask but we'll give it our best shot and hopefully put on a good show for the fans who will travel over there."
Meanwhile, Robson and 19-year-old right-back Paul Caddis were left with bittersweet memories of their Champions League debuts. "I was happy with my goal although not with my overall performance," said Robson who also scored against Barcelona in a pre-season friendly for former club Dundee United FC. "The team weren't at their best either, but credit to Barcelona. I thought they were outstanding."
'Every boy's dream'
Caddis added: "Six weeks ago I was playing in the reserves up in Inverness and then I'm facing the likes of Ronaldinho, Messi, Eto'o and Henry. It's every boy's dream to play against a team like Barcelona. We're probably going to need a miracle over there but in football nothing's impossible."
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