Celtic

Celtic’s Champions League Dream Comes Alive

One header and 11 years of failure and embarrassment were consigned to the dustbin of history.

Georgios Samaras’s last minute header sealed a famous win for Celtic as they came back from a 2-1 deficit to earn a tremendous 3-2 win over Spartak Moscow, the hoops first triumph on foreign soil in the Champions League in their 19th attempt.

Joy was unrestrained amongst the travelling support who have grown wearily accustomed to enduring the frustration of making trips to the continent only to return after witnessing defeat after defeat.

And make no mistake about it the Scottish champions thoroughly deserved the three points, Spartak, including ex Celt Aiden McGeady, were poor, but this should not detract from the fact Neil Lennon’s men were mightily impressive throughout the ninety minutes.

The fact they were able to recover from throwing away their lead to go behind early in the second half says a lot about the attitude and character which Lennon has installed in his team.

Heads did not go down instead there appeared to be a strong desire within the ranks of the Celtic side and when James Forrest scored within a minute of coming off the bench there was always only going to be one winner.

It has been a long time in coming, there have been unlucky losses such as the night when Juventus defeated Martin O’Neil’s side thanks to a dodgy penalty.

And dire showings like the nights they went down in Anderlecht, Donetsk and Aalborg.

But on Wednesday night all those defeats were forgotten and after gaining a point from the opening match against Benfica in their first game the Parkhead men are in pole position to progress from the group, if not parachute into the Europa League.

This was always going to be a big season for Celtic, not having Rangers to worry about has allowed them to concentrate all their efforts into regaining their reputation in the European game.

And the early signs are positive.

It was ironic to see them overcome a Spartak team, enriched by their billionaire owner’s millions, containing Mcgeady whose sale boosted the Celtic coffers by a whopping £10 million with that money used to attract the likes of Forster, Commons and Hooper to Glasgow’s east end.

Whilst their rivals have been sunk due to years of financial mismanagement financial prudence has been the name of the game at Celtic Park and their dealings in the transfer market have allowed them to take the top mantle in the Scottish game.

Now Catalonia is the next stop for the Celts faithful in this Champions League adventure.

The only problem for Neil Lennon is to devise a system to stop Messi. And Iniesta. And Xavi. And Villa. And Pedro. And Fabregas.

Though the Celtic fans will be quick to point out that the only time they were not beaten away on Champions League duty until Wednesday was in the Nou Camp when they grabbed a 1-1 draw in 2004.

A draw again later in the month would really surpass the victory in Moscow.

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