Lennon praises Celtic heroes after win

Celtic 2 - 1 Barcelona
Published Wednesday, 07 November 2012
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Manager Neil Lennon has hailed Celtic's momentous 2-1 Champions League victory over Barcelona as one of the "greatest nights in the club's recent history".

Lennon praises Celtic heroes after win
Celtic player Tony Watt (l) scores the second goal watched by Javier Mascherano (© Getty)

The Lurgan born boss praised heroes Fraser Forster, Victor Wanyama and Tony Watt after the side completed the memorable Group G win in Glasgow on Wednesday night.

Parkhead exploded in the 21st minute when midfielder Wanyama headed in from a Charlie Mulgrew corner.

And in the 83rd minute 18-year-old Watt, on for Mikael Lustig to make his debut in the competition, raced away to score the second, leaving Lionel Messi's late strike a consolation in injury time.

Forster reprised his stunning display from the narrow 2-1 defeat to the same opposition two weeks ago, making a string of excellent saves and even claiming the assist as Watt grabbed his goal.

Lennon said: "I think it was one of the greatest nights in the club's recent history.

"It was very poignant at our 125th anniversary, one to play Barcelona in such a prestigious game and two, to win the game under huge difficulties with the squad decimated by injuries and illness."

The players are heroes, they are heroes to me, I can't speak highly enough of their performance tonight and they will go down in the history books of the club as the team who beat probably the best team in the world.

Neil Lennon

"Everyone goes on about tactics but football is about players and they have covered themselves in glory tonight," he said.

Lennon also praised young Watt who is fast becoming a favourite of the Celtic fans.

He said: "It is a memorable thing he has done so early in his career.

"I said before the game I had no hesitation in playing him, I just thought his lack of experience would have been too much to put him in the starting line-up but everything we asked him to do, he did.

"He scored a brilliant goal and should have had a penalty and a sending-off when he got on Mascherano's wrong side.

"He is learning, he wrote himself into the history books of the club but he is 11 games into his career.

"I hope he has a fruitful career but tonight will take some topping."

Watt said: "It'll take a couple of hours to sink in. I just saw (Victor) Valdes, I thought to put it to the side of him and it might go in.

"It's probably the best moment of my life, I'll look back at it when I'm older and think 'We've just beaten Barcelona in the Champions League' - there's nothing better."

It's tremendous, I don't think words can describe it.

Fraser Forster

Celtic remain in a strong position to qualify for the knockout stages of the competition, with seven points from four games, two less than leaders Barca. They next travel to Benfica before hosting Spartak Moscow in their final group fixture.

Benfica have four points following their home win over Spartak Moscow, who are bottom of the group with three points.

Lennon said: "We have a chance, that's all it has given us. A greater chance than maybe we expected before the game.

"But we still have two very tough games.

"The problem is the players and staff will have to deal with is that the expectation level will increase.

"There is still a lot of work to do but we have given ourselves a platform.

"But that's for the future, I want the players to enjoy the moment and take it all in."

As they did when they came back from a goal behind in the Nou Camp last month to win 2-1 against Celtic, Barcelona dominated possession.

Barca coach Tito Vilanova said: "First of all I would like to congratulate Celtic, the fans were amazing tonight.

"If we had scored first it might have been a different game.

"But they scored first which allowed them to defend and their goalkeeper was brilliant tonight.

"It is not the first time we have lost a game like this and it won't be the last."

© UTV News
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17 Comments
a different william in coleraine wrote (661 days ago):
Brilliant result for the celts you couldnt begrudge them thta performance they were brilliant! i definitly wouldnt agree they have the best support in the world! their league attendances this year speak for themselves.my team in division 3 probably has higher aveage attendtances than celtic does! valencia osasuna? what about when celtic when to hamburg ? remember when the celtic fans mocked claudio reyna over 9/11? and in other trips to spain i believe they flew ETA flags. pot kettle and black springs to mind
Hooper in Twinbrook wrote (661 days ago):
Sad to see Rangers supporters trying to get sarcastic jabs into Celtic about things which have got nothing to de with the game. 'British team' 'Ros's poppy' etc. Those sour grapes must really taste bitter. David Cooper, how difficult is it to break a Scots third - division record? HH YNWA.
michael in Belfast wrote (662 days ago):
@Davie Cooper The Celtic Fans showed the other night why they are regarded as some of the best the world has ever seen... I know there are a lot of decent rangers fans, but you must accept that as a whole they generally have a bad rep, eg. Manchester, Osasuna, Valencia etc etc etc At the min though i am still basking in celtics second greates victory Hail Hail
Realist in England wrote (662 days ago):
Davie Cooper - but the vast majority of the team didn't stick with the club, did they? I guess the €/£ meant more to them than loyalty as they went off to various clubs around the place.. Never really having bought into the 'them and us' football supporter mentality, I have to say that those who left made the right call. I admire McCoist sticking at it but he has already had a glittering career and plenty of time to amass money. Current players have short careers during which they earn salaries they are unlikely to ever see again after they retire/get too old and are laid off. Expecting them to sacrifice at least 3/4 years of that when some of them weren't even Scottish/etc. is crazy. Loyalty doesn't pay bills.
davie cooper in copeland road wrote (663 days ago):
i remember not to long ago the celtic wanted lennon out now he's the greatest and you's call the rangers men sad at least they stick with there team through thick an thin scottish third division and still breaking records
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