Bhoys' wonders: Celtic's finest European hours
Tuesday, November 4, 2014
With Celtic FC making their 300th UEFA competition appearance this week, UEFA.com's man in Glasgow, Alex O'Henley, picks through the Hoops' greatest coups.
Article top media content
Celtic FC's first foray into continental competition was a 10-1 aggregate victory over FC Basel 1893 in the 1963/64 European Cup Winners' Cup. As the Hoops prepare for their 300th European match – at FC Astra Giurgiu in UEFA Europa League Group D – UEFA.com picks out five of the Glasgow side's greatest nights in Europe.
Kings of Europe
Celtic FC 2-1 FC Internazionale Milano
25/05/67, European Champion Clubs' Cup final
Celtic's greatest 90 minutes were when Jock Stein's 'Lisbon Lions' came from behind to become the first British team to lift European club football's biggest prize in 1967. Sandro Mazzola gave Inter an early lead with a seventh-minute penalty at the Estádio Nacional in the Portuguese capital, but Tommy Gemmell equalised on 63 minutes and, with six minutes remaining, relentless Hoops pressure paid off, Stevie Chalmers stabbing home the winner. Celtic had landed the European Cup at the first time of asking and Stein said afterwards: "We did it by playing football. Pure, beautiful, inventive football."
Best of British again
Celtic FC 2-1 Leeds United AFC
15/04/70, European Champion Clubs' Cup semi-final second leg
Celtic took a 1-0 advantage into the second leg of the 'Battle of Britain', with a UEFA-competition-record crowd of 136,505 watching Billy Bremner level the tie after 11 minutes. However, two minutes after the restart, John Hughes equalised on the night and minutes later Bobby Murdoch added a second to give the Hoops a 3-1 aggregate victory over Don Revie's side. In so doing, Celtic became the first British club to reach two European Cup finals, although Stein's men ultimately lost to Feyenoord in the decider. Jimmy Johnstone, subsequently voted Celtic's best ever player, was the key man over the two legs and years later his marker Terry Cooper reflected: "I still have nightmares. I reckon I had good anticipation, but I could do nothing to take the ball off Johnstone."
European force once more
Boavista FC 0-1 Celtic FC
24/04/03 UEFA Cup semi-final second leg
Having missed a first-leg penalty, Henrik Larsson made amends with the only goal of a scrappy encounter 12 minutes from time in Porto to hand Celtic a 2-1 aggregate win and ensure they progressed to their first European final since 1970. The Seville showpiece would end in disappointment, with José Mourinho's FC Porto team eventually prevailing 3-2 after extra time, yet having beaten the likes of Liverpool FC, VfB Stuttgart and RC Celta de Vigo en route to Spain, Celtic – under Martin O'Neill – had announced themselves as a force to be reckoned with in Europe once again.
Last 16 for first time
Celtic FC 1-0 Manchester United FC
21/11/06, UEFA Champions League group stage
For late drama, few games could match this one. United had dominated possession without turning it into goals when Shunsuke Nakamura curled a free-kick past Edwin van der Sar with ten minutes left. Sir Alex Ferguson's charges might have equalised in the final minute when they were awarded a penalty, but Artur Boruc saved Louis Saha's effort, meaning that Celtic – under Ferguson's former United protege Gordon Strachan – advanced to the last 16 of the UEFA Champions League for the first time. "It is the best result of my career," captain Neil Lennon told UEFA.com that night. "Shunsuke's free-kick was world class. This means everything to me."
Celtic FC 2-1 FC Barcelona
07/11/12, UEFA Champions League group stage
Celebrating Celtic's 125th anniversary on the eve of the game, manager Lennon felt that "something special" could be in the air. Yet with his team having lost to an injury-time Jordi Alba goal in the corresponding fixture at Camp Nou, few expected Celtic to win, especially without striker Gary Hooper and skipper Scott Brown. However, Victor Wanyama's towering first-half header and substitute Tony Watt's composed finish seven minutes from time earned Celtic one of their most memorable European victories and reduced the watching Rod Stewart to tears. "They will go down in the history books of the club as the team that beat probably the best team in the world," said an equally emotional Lennon.