It had been just two weeks since the Glasgow giants’ battling performance at the Camp Nou had been undone by a late winner from Jordi Alba, but on this occasion there was to be no Barcelona fight back. Once again Celtic took the lead, this time through Victor Wanyama, but despite predictable possession and pressure from the visitors, Celtic scored an all-important second goal through young substitute Tony Watt. Barcelona finally got on the score sheet through Lionel Messi’s injury time strike, but it was to prove too little too late.
While merely beating a great Barcelona side is reward enough, the result also leaves Celtic in a strong position to make the knockout stages of the Champions League.
Celtic exposed Barcelona’s weakness from set pieces in the sides’ meeting two weeks ago and they did so again at Celtic Park. Again Charlie Mulgrew provided the quality delivery as he sent a corner over from the right deep to the far post where Wanyama was placed to power over and head past Victor Valdes.
Messi came close to bringing the visitors level in the 29th minute as he exchanged passes with Andres Iniesta before firing a shot that skimmed the top of the cross bar and went over. They went even closer 11 minutes later with Alexis Sanchez’s header bouncing onto the post.
But with just over seven minutes later, 18-year-old Watt scored a trademark sucker punch. Xavi completely missed his kick after a long ball forward from Fraser Forster allowing Watt to break clear and show admirable composure to finish low and hard across Valdes.
There was still to be late drama, though, as Barcelona struck in the first minute of added time. Some familiar quick passing and stunning close control led to a Forster having to make a good low save from Pedro’s shot but Messi was on hand to convert the rebound.
There was to be no heartbreak this time round for Celtic as they held on for a historic for the club and manager Neil Lennon.