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Barcelona glee in Glasgow

Tuesday, 14 September 2004

By Alex O'Henley at Celtic Park

[1] FC Barcelona became the first visiting team to win a UEFA Champions League match at Celtic FC as goals from Deco, Ludovic Giuly and the homecoming Henrik Larsson secured maximum points in their Group F opener.

Larsson clincher

[2] Larsson's goal, on his return to the club where he scored 242 goals in a seven-year spell, sealed a victory which had looked in doubt after Chris Sutton grabbed a dramatic equaliser for Celtic just short of the hour mark. Barcelona coach Frank Rijkaard had named Larsson as a substitute with Brazilian ace Ronaldinho coming in to form a front three with Ludovic Giuly and Samuel Eto'o.

Delayed start

[3] Kick-off was delayed by 30 minutes because of a turnstile failure which locked hundreds of fans outside the stadium but no sooner had the game started than Barcelona took control. After just three minutes young goalkeeper David Marshall had to come off his line to block Giuly's shot, and a minute later Ronaldinho fired narrowly past the post.

Clinical finish

[4] Celtic were being caught in possession all too often and on 20 minutes Barcelona exacted the ultimate punishment. Ronaldinho surged towards the box and played the ball in for Deco, who gave Marshall no chance with a clinical right-footed finish.

Close shaves

[5] Having gone ahead Barcelona were happy to sit back on their lead and restrict Celtic to opportunities from set-pieces, but just before half-time they almost extended their lead when Marshall and then Bobo Balde denied Giuly and Xavi Hernández. Celtic manager Martin O'Neill brought on Sutton after the break, and the impact was instant as the Scottish champions began the second half with much more verve and vigour in their game.

Marshall heroics

[6] However, the game could have been put out of Celtic's reach on 55 minutes when Jackie McNamara brought down Giuly as he raced in on goal, leaving referee Markus Merk with no option other than to point to the penalty spot. But Marshall continued his heroics with a one-handed save diving to his left to deny Ronaldinho.

More pressure

[7] Unfazed by the penalty miss the visitors went close again, through a header by Rafael Márquez and a Xavi volley, in a relentless 60 seconds of pressure. But Celtic survived to press forward and grabbed an unlikely equaliser on 59 minutes.

Celtic level

[8] The pace of Henri Camara had proved to be one of the home sides' most potent weapons and it was his cross from the right which was met by Sutton, who stretched to guide the ball into the roof of the net. Nine minutes after that the game was nearly turned completely on its head as Stilian Petrov was denied by a Victor Valdés save from a stinging volley.

Visitors ahead

[9] Then, just moments later, Brazilian defender Juliano Haus Belletti was centimetres away from putting into his own net under pressure from Alan Thompson. Back came Barcelona however, and with just 12 minutes left on the clock Giuly hit them with the sucker punch, finding the bottom corner of the net from the edge of the penalty area with a little help from a deflection off the unlucky McNamara.

Victory sealed

[10] Four minutes after that Larsson, on as a substitute, capped his return with a goal. Latching on to a misplaced header from Thompson, he calmly rounded Marshall before side-footing the ball into the net. Celtic had no way back and knew they were consigned to their first defeat in 19 home European games. For Barcelona, it was a first success on Scottish soil in six attempts.

Deco celebrates his opener