Neil Lennon was left to rue his side’s failure to take full advantage of their rare opportunities as Barcelona dealt the killer blow late on to reap the benefits of a below par performance. Despite having Puyol, Alba, Mascherano and most notably Lionel Messi absent through injury the Spanish side snatched all three points.
It was a game that had poor standards of football although there is cause for optimism in the Celtic camp following a valiant display. The deafening atmosphere inside Celtic Park couldn’t inspire another dramatic win, nonetheless it was a great occasion.
As anticipated Barcelona dominated possession with Celtic acting as the visitors, an amazing test of Celtic’s concentration in the first two minutes. It was 104 seconds before any Hoops player got the faintest of touches, and that was Izaguirre for blocking a pass before rebounding off him to another Barca player. That spell irritated the crowd, not because they expected more from their team, therefore the whistles echoed round the ground to distract the visitors.
When the Scottish side finally retrieved the ball after a bombardment from the Spanish league leaders, they did carve open the defence with Samaras as the main threat so it was little surprise that the Greek had the first opportunity.
As the game wore on, Celtic did have more of the ball but there were few meaningful passes with a lot around the back four, that is if they wanted the ball at all. It was as if the ball was a hot potato. This favored Barcelona considering that they could press even further up the field without pulling the trigger.
Neymar was the only man to have a real shot in the opening half by surging past his marker to self create opportunities for his stronger right foot. He kept Forster on his toes; nothing more.
Normal service resumed after the interval as if nothing occurred in the 15 minutes, as per usual Barca passed with purpose and, although this isn’t as common, the Hoops failed to string more than three passes consecutively. Although the Spaniards passed with precision, there was still no desire, no eagerness to try their luck.
With the hour mark fast approaching, finally some intense Celtic attacking intent happened. Chants of “Celtic, Celtic, Celitc” rang around the stadium until Scott Brown was shown red for pulling Neymar back and also apparently kicking the Brazilian in the back. Neymar quite clearly exaggerated as he normally does, as a result of this from then onwards the youngster had to deal with an uproar of boos whenever he had the ball.
It was as you’d expect a back to the walls performance for the remainder of the ninety minutes. The fans became to fill in as that eleventh man for the hosts by unnerving the opposition.
Celtic nearly found an opener through Forrest but ,after a quick breakaway that started through Neymar’s searching ball to Sanchez and concluded with a neat header by Fabregas, that chance was forgotten.
Fraser Forster made consecutive stunning saves to deny Neymar and Sanchez’s goal bound efforts, so that encouraged the supporters no end to why their team can cope with the best. To summarize this up:
Full of spirit. Warrior like mentality. Not enough quality.