This European run under Lennon is a stunning reminder of the force we used to be, and what we’re working towards. Beating Lazio home and away is a feat comparable to so many of our biggest moments on the continental stage. Some moments are remembered for their meaning while some for their sheer excellence. I’m Stephen Russell (@SJRussell23) and joining me today to discuss Celtic’s Top 5 European Goals are Liam Divers (@LDivers91) and Alex Papadopoulos (@AlexPapa67).
DIVERS: Stuttgart 3-2 Celtic (Sutton, 2002/2003).
Everyone knows what happened this season and there are games and goals in this run that stick out more clearly in the memory for very obvious reasons. But after beating Stuttgart 3-1 at home in the first leg, everyone knew that an early goal would kill the tie for good. After Thompson had stooped down so low that my back hurts watching it to nod in the first, it really was game over for the Germans. However, it’s the second goal of the match from Sutton that really sticks out for me.
Look at the position Agathe is in when he first collects the ball. Look at how much ground he has to cover and how many Stuttgart players are ahead of him, blocking his path to goal (7, FYI). Yet after a one-two with Petrov that pushes him right to the touchline, Agathe faces up the defender, nudges the ball slightly ahead of him and gives it a big ol’ ‘Catch ye m8’ and rattles past him like Kris Boyd when the buffet announcement is made at a wedding. It’s genuinely awe inspiring how a human being can accelerate so quickly, while somehow still maintaining relative control of a football and having the presence of mind to pick out a team mate. All that’s left for Sutton to do is tap it in, which he nearly makes an arse of! The video below is well worth it for the German commentary, the “Oh oh oh oh” noise after Sutton’s goal and the sad looking Stuttgart Dinosaur mascot.
PAPADOPOULOS: Celtic 2-1 Barcelona (Watt, 2012/2013).
“Xavi’s error… this is Tony Watt… HE’S DONE IT! THIS IS THE STUFF OF LEGENDS”
It was always going to appear here. Other than the goal from Tom Rogic that secured the Invincible Treble there is likely not a more enjoyable goal from Celtic in the past decade. 18-year-old Tony Watt skips past Xavi after a pump up the park from Forster and knocks the ball by Valdes to send Paradise into dreamland. It really truly is what we dream of doing when we are wee, and Tony Watt was lucky enough to live that dream.
DIVERS: Blackburn 0-2 Celtic (Larsson, 2002/2003).
Remember me saying above how there were other goals scored in the Seville run that stick out in the memory? Well look no further, baby! After a tight first leg and Blackburn giving it the “men against boys” patter, Celtic were in no mood for messing about. With an away end that was ridiculously over-capacity and the game being shown live all across the UK on BBC, Celtic were desperate to silence that stoater Souness and an English media that had Blakburn down as clear favourites.
A tetchy opening and a few half chances hadn’t give much indication as to which way this game was going to go. However, on the 14 minute mark, big Bobo strode out of defence like Robocop and picked out Agathe on his right. The pass from Agathe into Sutton had enough on it that Sutton had to merely flick a boot at it to help it on its way. As Hartson slipped chasing it, so did the Blackburn defender. Both are flailing about the floor like a pair of freshly caught Haddock, as Larsson angles his run to collect the pass. As he scampers on to it there’s a fear he’s taken too heavy a touch and the imposing frame of Brad Friedel is hurtling towards him, probably screaming about the Fifth Amendment or something. Just when it look like his touch has let him down, Larsson delicately lifts it over the top of mad Brad and the ball drops perfectly into the back of the net. The rest, as they say, is history!
As an aside, look at this screengrab as Larsson latches onto the pass. It’s genuinely a piece of art. Wouldn’t look out of place in the Louvre.
PAPADOPOULOS: Celtic 1-0 Manchester United (Nakamura, 2006/2007).
How could this list not include one of his freekicks? 30 yards from the goalmouth, Nakamura simply decides that the ball will be in the top corner and it is so, neither god nor man could have stopped it once it left his wand-like Japanese foot. This goal saw the club through to the knockout stages of the Champions League, and dealt Manchester United their only loss away from home in European competition between 2006 and 2011.
DIVERS: Celtic 4-3 Juventus (Sutton, 2001/2002).
There’s a few things stick out for me in this game. It was halloween and as a ten year old, I had ditched my pals and all the sweets I could eat to head to Parkhead with my brother to watch us try enact some revenge on Juve for the first group game. it was also the first time I had seen two Celtic fans fight at a match, with one of them being dressed as either a mummy or Elvis. It was all over very quickly after those around us feel about laughing at the spectacle of it. I also remember that night being absolutely captivated by the performance of Lubo Moravcik. It is still, to this day, one of the finest individual performances I have ever witnessed live. He was 36 and controlled the game like a guy 10 years his junior.
And it was his delivery that set up the winning goal for Celtic. An out swinging freekick from the left is flicked on by a combination of Bobo Balde and a Juve defender and the ball falls to Sutton at a height that most folk wouldn’t consider attempting first time. But there was something special in the air that night and with one swing of his left leg, Sutton connected with the ball like a baseball player hitting a home run. It exploded off his foot and high into the net, bouncing off the net in such a satisfying way that I regularly rewind that goal just to see the net bounce. I mean, look at the way it just bounces down! It’s enough to make you need a cold shower.
PAPADOPOULOS: Boavista 0-1 Celtic (Larsson, 2002/2003).
If a goal makes Henrik that happy, it makes me just as happy. His fist pump and shout after he celebrates are a completely iconic image in my mind. Boavista were clearly happy to see the game through as a draw and pass through to an all-Portuguese final on their away goal at Parkhead. Much to their disappointment however, Henrik Larsson was having none of that, and delivered Celtic to their first European final in 33 long years.
DIVERS: Spartak Moscow 2 – 3 Celtic (Samaras, 2012/2013).
Celtic and away games in the Champions League group stage just didn’t work; we had our differences and no matter how hard we tried, nobody could see them being resolved any time soon. But on that night in Moscow against a side managed by Unai Emery and featuring none other than Aiden McGeady, a Celtic side that on reflection would put the fear of God in anyone (not in a good way) managed to record our first away win in the Champions League.
A free flowing move down the right set Lustig away and his low cross was swept in by Hooper. We then went 2-1 down and many Celtic fans would have been fully expecting us to go on and get a tanking. But on this night, our luck appeared to be in. A sending off for Spartak galvanised the team, Forrest got a lucky equaliser via a very kind deflection, Christ even Kris Commons looked like he had a turn of pace: this was going to be our night. As it was, the Greek God himself Georgios Samaras rose in the last minute to meet a brilliant cross from wee Izzy. Cue bedlam in the tiny pocket of Celtic fans in the vast bowl of a stadium, Efe Ambrose nearly breaking Samaras’ neck by trying to use it as a surf board and Lennon shovelling as much tobacco in his gums as possible. Truly wonderful!
PAPADOPOULOS: Celtic 1-0 Barcelona (Thompson, 2003/2004).
The cross. The header from Larsson. The Half volley from Thompson, sublime in the extreme. The goal to beat Barcelona in a two-legged knockout tie in the 59thminute of a match Celtic had no right to win. This is a dangerous combination of ingredients that make for an incredible achievement in Celtic history. All of this capped off by a superb performance by Marshall at the Nou Camp in the return leg, followed by a ‘touch of Iberia’ at Ibrox days later.
DIVERS: Celtic 1- 0 Manchester United (Nakamura, 2006/2007).
I genuinely don’t know what I can right about this that hasn’t been written already. I’ve never seen a ball struck sweeter or with such accuracy ever since. I was sitting directly in line with it in the Jock Stein upper and as soon as it left his foot, the guy to my left jumped up in anticipation of the ball going in, even though it was still a good 20 yards away at this point.
This was one of the first times I remember my dad securing a ticket on the day of the game and urging me to take it instead, telling me he would be okay to watch it on tele. At the time I just thought he was being sound or that he didn’t fancy the cold. Looking back now, I reckon he knew this might be a really special night for our club and he wanted me to witness it live. Thanks Gerry Divers, thanks Shunsuke Nakamura. Truly a night I’ll never forget.
PAPADOPOULOS: Celtic 2-1 Inter Milan (Chalmers, 1966/1967).
What can be said about this goal more than it is the single most important goal in the history of Celtic Football Club. Securing a comeback in a European final against one of the greatest sides in history, scored by a man who by all rights could have died of tuberculosis a few years previously. It is the stuff of legend and the key to the most important achievement in Celtic’s trophy cabinet.