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Celtic 0 Juventus 3 – Match report

Celtic 0 Juventus 3: Old Lady dish out painful lesson to Lennon's naive Bhoys

PUBLISHED:

21:38 GMT, 12 February 2013

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UPDATED:

21:44 GMT, 12 February 2013

Celtic face a near impossible task to make the quarter-finals of the Champions League after Juventus scored in both halves to take the advantage at Parkhead.

Neil Lennon's side got off to the worse possible start as they went behind inside the first five minutes.

Alessandro Matri poked the ball through Fraser Forster's legs and got the ball over the line despite the best efforts of Kevin Wilson who tried to clear, but Claudio Marchisio clattered home the rebound to make sure.

The second came in the final 15 minutes when Matri played the ball into the path of Claudio Marchisio, the midfielder cut inside a tired Scott Brown challenge before smashing past Forster at his near post.

And the game was wrapped up when Juventus added a third when Efe Ambrose was caught horribly in possession by Claudio Marchisio who played in Mirko Vucinic and he finished well to beat Forster.

More to follow…

Early lead: Claudio Marchisio and Alessandro Matri combined to open the scoring for the Italians

Early lead: Claudio Marchisio and Alessandro Matri combined to open the scoring for the Italians

Match Facts

Celtic: Forster, Lustig, Wilson, Ambrose, Izaguirre, Forrest, Brown, Wanyama, Mulgrew, Commons, Hooper.

Subs: Zaluska, Matthews, Miku, Nouioui, Ledley, Watt, Kayal.

Juventus: Buffon, Barzagli, Bonucci, Caceres, Lichtsteiner, Vidal, Pirlo, Marchisio, Peluso, Matri, Vucinic.

Subs: Storari, Pogba, Giovinco, Anelka, Padoin, Quagliarella, Marrone.

Referee: Alberto Undiano Mallenco (Spain)

XXXX

Desperate dive: Kelvin Wilson tries to prevent the ball from crossing the line

Desperate dive: Kelvin Wilson tries to prevent the ball from crossing the line

Making sure: Marchisio smashes the ball over the line

Making sure: Marchisio smashes the ball over the line

Rod Stewart

Billy Connolly

Faces in the crowd: Singer Rod Stewart and comedian Billy Connolly watch Celtic

Tussle: Celtic striker Gary Hooper tangles with Stephan Lichsteiner

Tussle: Celtic striker Gary Hooper tangles with Stephan Lichsteiner

Fight for the ball: Wilson vies for the ball with Alessandro Matri

Fight for the ball: Wilson vies for the ball with Alessandro Matri

Strong challenge: Celtic's Emilio Izaguirre is brought down by Juventus' Leonardo Bonucci

Strong challenge: Celtic's Emilio Izaguirre is brought down by Juventus' Leonardo Bonucci

Looking on: Celtic keeper Fraser Forster looks dejected at the end of the game

Looking on: Celtic keeper Fraser Forster looks dejected at the end of the game

UEFA chief dismisses Celtic"s escape plan

UEFA chief dismisses Celtic's escape plan and tells them to stay playing in Scotland

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UPDATED:

14:06 GMT, 22 December 2012

Celtic have been warned by UEFA that the latest plan to escape Scottish football is doomed to failure.

Parkhead Chief Executive Peter Lawwell expressed support for the establishment of regional leagues amidst reports the Russian and Ukrainian leagues are close to a merger.

Keen to compete financially with Europe’s giants, the Parkhead club are also lobbying for a move to England or a revival of the Atlantic League concept featuring Scottish, Dutch, Belgian and Scandinavian clubs.

Keen to explore: Celtic chief executive Peter Lawwell watching with interest as the Russian and Ukrainian leagues move closer to a merger

Keen to explore: Celtic chief executive Peter Lawwell watching with interest as the Russian and Ukrainian leagues move closer to a merger

In a stark warning, however, UEFA events chief David Taylor says the European power remains opposed to cross border competitons.

'We are a long way short of what people might call a Berlin Wall moment,” says the former SFA chief.

'There are all sorts of complications and there are not any formal talks about this at all.

'Of course there are always ideas circulating in European club football.

'UEFA has to be aware and alive to what the clubs are thinking.

'But at the end of the day football still is organised on the basis of national associations in each country organising their football.

'And there is no appetite to move away from this.

'It’s far from the case that anything has been agreed in Ukraine and Russia.

'There have been some discussions, ideas have been floated and nobody can stop clubs discussing anything. They are perfectly free to discuss things – but not with UEFA. That is not happening.'

Draw time: Celtic manager Neil Lennon watches intently as the draw for the last 16 of the Champions League gets underway in Nyon

Draw time: Celtic manager Neil Lennon watches intently as the draw for the last 16 of the Champions League gets underway in Nyon

Sergei Palkin, Chief Executive of Shaktar Donetsk claims a league is inevitable at some point, but admits reports of a deal have jumped the gun.

Speaking at Thursday’s Champions League draw he said: 'Yes, there have been conversations but these conversations have all been at the Russian side.

'As yet they have not invited anyone from Ukraine.

'For sure it will happen at some point in the future because there is huge interest from the people for the countries to come together as leagues.

'We all want one thing. Good results in Europe.

'In the European tournaments you need to be strong – so it is vital you have a strong domestic competition.

'Its tough to compete with Manchester United, Juventus and Real Madrid because they play in far strong leagues than we do. That shows in their results in Europe.

'Even if it is going to happen it won’t be for at least two years.

“But we must speak with UEFA, we must speak as bodies, we must find out the details.

Euro stars: Gary Hooper celebrates with Giorgios Samaras and Victor Wanyama after Celtic made the last 16 of the Champions League

Euro stars: Gary Hooper celebrates with Giorgios Samaras and Victor Wanyama after Celtic made the last 16 of the Champions League

'For example, how many places are going to be granted to a new championship for the Champions League

'The proposed joint championship is a very interesting situation, but it is still some way off and nothing is concrete.'

In a quest to address the unrest, UEFA president Michel Platini has improved access to the Champions League group stages for less wealthy nations – with the changes assisting Celtic’s progress to the last 16 of the elite competition.

The French legend has also spoken publicly of merging the Europa League with an expanded Champions League featuring 64 teams.

Taylor insists that won’t happen, however, and that the Champions League remains the best possible revenue stream for the champions of Scotland.

'Our aim is to make our competitions the best of the best – the pinnacle.

'There are no plans to merge the Champions League and the Europa League, that is not on the agenda at all.

'That was an exaggerated and misinterpreted report which seemed to grow arms and legs.

'Neither are there any plans to expand the Champions League. I can say quite clearly that is not likely, not even up for discussion.

'The Champions League is an excellent competition. It is where the best play the best.

'How people qualify for the Champions League and the Europa League is what people are discussing.

'But any discussions about what might happen at any other level of the game Well, that needs FIFA’s approval, it needs UEFA’s approval and we are well short of that.

'There is nothing formal about it. It is still some way away.

'Whether UEFA will have a more liberal attitude in future – that remains to be seen.'

Lennon: I will not be bullied by Manchester United or Liverpool to sell Victor Wanyama or Gary Hooper

Lennon: I will not be bullied by Man United or Liverpool to sell Wanyama or Hooper

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UPDATED:

01:08 GMT, 14 December 2012

Neil Lennon expects to have the final
say on any bids for his players next month and insists Celtic will not
be bullied by wealthy English predators.

The Parkhead boss is well aware that
his side's achievements in the Champions League have attracted the
interest of some leading Premiership clubs. Liverpool and Southampton
have been linked with moves for Gary Hooper, while Victor Wanyama
continues to feature high on Manchester United's wanted list.

Impressive: Victor Wanyama

Impressive: Victor Wanyama

Lennon, though, remains adamant it would take an 'astronomical' offer for Celtic to part with one of their prize assets during the January transfer window while they chase success in four competitions.

And the manager believes it should be down to him – rather than the board – to make the decisive call about whether any cash put forward is acceptable.

'As I have said before, everyone has their price and I think I will have a say in the decision if a huge bid comes in for any of the players,' said Lennon.

'But I don't want them to go. I want them to see this season out anyway and make a real fist of the competitions. There are not many teams still going on four fronts – including the Champions League – with half the season gone.

'Will I have the final say I'd like to think so, yeah.

'At the time when Aiden McGeady was going (to Spartak Moscow for 9.5million in 2010), I felt it was good business.

Warning: Celtic manager Neil Lennon

Warning: Celtic manager Neil Lennon

'It was a good offer and something where we could use the money on the team. We are now in a totally different scenario. We don't need to sell.

'It could be the case that I don't want to stand in the way of a player going to one of the bigger clubs. But I hope I don't have to face that scenario.'

Lennon is confident Celtic are close to agreeing a new contract with Hooper, whose current deal expires in the summer of 2014, while talks also remain on-going with Wanyama's agent.

If there is no conclusion to those discussions in the coming weeks, it could persuade English suitors to test Celtic's resolve with take-it-or-leave-it bids just as the January window is about to close.

Lennon, though, is adamant that tactic would not work as it would leave little time for the club to invest the money recouped.

'If it's the last day of the window, then it's too late,' added Lennon.

'I wouldn't have time (to replace the players) and you've all month to put a bid in. It does happen, but it will not happen here – not to any of our major players anyway.' Lennon would be comfortable to see out the season with his current squad but is in the market for left-sided reinforcements next month.

He also confirmed Celtic are keen on pursuing a deal for US international striker Juan Agudelo, who impressed during a recent training period with the champions.

The 19-year-old, who became his country's youngest-ever goalscorer aged 17, is currently with MLS side Chivas USA.

Neil Lennon not hankering for move south just yet

Lennon not hankering for move south just yet after Celtic's European success

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UPDATED:

22:58 GMT, 9 December 2012

Celic manager Neil Lennon has insisted he is not ready to cash in his burgeoning reputation in the wake of Champions League knockout qualification by moving south to the English Premier League — just yet.

The Northern Irishman, however, does admit the lure of the richest league in the world could eventually be enough to tempt him away from his spiritual home of Parkhead in the future.

Lennon’s reputation has never been hotter after his team, built on a shoestring budget, succeeded where billionaire-backed Manchester City and Chelsea failed by unlocking the golden gates to the last 16 of Europe’s elite with last week’s nail-biting 2-1 win over Spartak Moscow.

Staying put: Neil Lennon is happy to remain at Celtic for the time being

Staying put: Neil Lennon is happy to remain at Celtic for the time being

That has led to speculation over the future of Lennon’s star players like Victor Wanyama, Gary Hooper and Georgios Samaras, but Lennon’s work has not gone unnoticed in board rooms down south either. And the 41-year-old, who is well known in England after his League Cup winning spell with Leicester City, admits managing in the Premiership one day is an appealing prospect.

Lennon said: ‘I’m ambitious, obviously, and maybe one day, if I’m still good enough, a Premier League team might shine the eyes at me and it’ll be something to consider.

‘But I’m very happy here at the minute. I love what I do and, obviously, I have great feeling and affinity with the support and the club. I got this job young and I’m a work in progress but, if something comes up later on in my career, who knows

‘But you can’t think too far ahead in football because you never know what’s around the corner. Just last year I was thinking about resigning because we were 3-0 down to Kilmarnock at Rugby Park so football changes quickly — and it could change again for me in future.’

With Borussia Dortmund, FC Schalke and Bayern Munich each winning their Champions League group stages, the odds are on Lennon’s men drawing a German side in the knockouts.

Easy does it: Celtic strolled to victory over Kilmarnock at the weekend

Easy does it: Celtic strolled to victory over Kilmarnock at the weekend

In addition to his previously stated aversion to facing Manchester United, Lennon would not favour being paired on December 20 with Jurgen Klopp’s excellent Dortmund side, which topped Group D for death featuring Real Madrid, Manchester City and Ajax.

‘Every team in there is a quality side,’ Lennon said. ‘I’d like to avoid maybe Manchester United and Dortmund. But, whoever we get, we’ll take.
‘It’s great to be in the last 16 because European football is the stage you are judged on at this club.

‘We had two titanic games against Barcelona and we fell just short in the Nou Camp, but to beat them at home is a night that will live with me forever. To qualify as well as to win against Barcelona is great.

‘We have done well in Europe but I know at this football club you are always two defeats away from a crisis.

‘I’ve been here for 12 years as a player, coach and manager and there are big expectations amongst the supporters at this club.

‘That makes this job intense, challenging and demanding — but also wonderful.’

Champions League round-up: Juventus and Bayern Munich

Juventus and Bayern win final games to ensure top spot ahead of knockout stages

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UPDATED:

23:07 GMT, 5 December 2012

An own goal saw Juventus go through to the knockout stages of the Champions League as Group E winners as they edged out Shakhtar Donetsk in Ukraine.

Olexander Kucher inadvertently turned Stephan Lichtsteiner's cross into his own net in the 56th minute, seeing Juve leapfrog Shakhtar at the top and rendering Chelsea's 6-1 thrashing of FC Nordsjaelland meaningless.

Both teams struck the post but Juventus could just about claim to be worthy winners as they had the better of the chances and ensured most of the game was played in Shakhtar territory.

Top of the group: Juventus celebrate their win over Shakhtar

Top of the group: Juventus celebrate their win over Shakhtar

News of the result killed any party at Stamford Bridge, where Rafael Benitez claimed his first win in charge of Chelsea and Fernando Torres scored twice.

Kris Commons' dramatic late penalty gave Celtic a 2-1 victory over Spartak Moscow at Parkhead and secured the Hoops a place in the last 16.

There was then a nervous wait at the finish as Celtic, who needed to better Benfica's result to progress from Group G, listened for news from the Portuguese side's goalless draw at Barcelona.

With no goals, the major incident at the Nou Camp was an injury to Lionel Messi, who was taken off on a cart after appearing as a second-half substitute, leaving Barca to finish with 10 men.

Bayern Munich sealed top spot in Group F as they coasted to a 4-1 victory over BATE Borisov at the Allianz Arena.

Easy does it: Thomas Mueller helped ensure Bayern Munich topped their group

Easy does it: Thomas Mueller helped ensure Bayern Munich topped their group

BATE never threatened a repeat of their 3-1 upset earlier in the competition as a much-changed Bayern side did more than enough to ensure they will avoid the likes of Barcelona and Manchester United in the next round.

Mario Gomez, one of seven changes, opened the scoring on 21 minutes before Thomas Muller and Xherdan Shaqiri netted shortly after half-time to ensure a nerveless second period.

Substitute David Alaba completed the rout with seven minutes remaining before Egor Filipenko grabbed a BATE consolation.

/12/05/article-0-165E5550000005DC-24_634x419.jpg” width=”634″ height=”419″ alt=”Through: Galatasaray finished behind Manchester United to reach the last 16″ class=”blkBorder” />

Through: Galatasaray finished behind Manchester United to reach the last 16

The win saw Bayern pip Valencia to top spot, despite the Spaniards winning 1-0 in Lille thanks to a 37th-minute penalty from Oliveira Jonas after Marko Basa had impeded him.

In Group G, CFR Cluj took a 1-0 win over Manchester United courtesy of Luis Alberto's wonder goal, but were denied second place as Galatasaray came back to beat Braga 2-1.

Marcio Mossoro's curling shot gave Braga a first-half lead, but Burak Yilmaz and namesake Aydin struck in the second half to turn it around.

Neil Lennon on brink at Celtic… 17 days after beating Barcelona

If you want me to go, I'll go! Lennon on brink at Celtic, 17 days after beating Barcelona

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UPDATED:

00:07 GMT, 25 November 2012

Neil Lennon sensationally threatened to quit Celtic after an angry altercation with fans during the 1-0 Clydesdale Bank Premier League defeat by Inverness at Parkhead.

With the home side trying to claw back Billy McKay's 65th-minute strike late in the game, the former Celtic skipper remonstrated with angry supporters behind his technical area and the match ended with a crescendo of boos from many of the frustrated Hoops support.

Flash point: Celtic manager Neil Lennon argues with a Celtic fan

Flash point: Celtic manager Neil Lennon argues with a Celtic fan

Flash point: Celtic manager Neil Lennon argues with a Celtic fan

The Parkhead side have taken only one point from the last nine at home but remain top of the league by a point and are within one game of reaching the last-16 of the Champions League due, in part, to an incredible 2-1 home win over Barcelona earlier in the month.

However, in the post-match press conference the former Celtic skipper was clearly enraged by some of the criticism.

Lennon said: 'They are frustrated. I disagreed with them, I didn't like what they said about the team.

'Look, if they are not happy with what I am doing and they want me to go, I will.

'If the fans make it clear that they are not happy and they want me out then that's okay, I will do the honourable thing.

Not happy: Lennon received a verbal volley during shock defeat by Inverness

Not happy: Lennon received a verbal volley during shock defeat by Inverness

Happy days: Lennon celebrates with players after victory over Barcelona

Happy days: Lennon celebrates with players after victory over Barcelona

'I can't repeat it (what fans said) because it is public arena but there were a lot of expletives and heavy criticism, which I didn't think was justified and (there was) a lack of patience with the team as well.

'If there was a lack of application and commitment I would be the first to criticise the team.

'I didn't see that today but I did see a lack of composure and quality in the final third and that's what cost us.

'If I think it is justified then I don't have a problem with it but I don't think it was justified today.

'But they pay their money, they are allowed to say what they like. I've got my opinions on it and sometimes I give them as well.

'I am not happy with the league form, it is my team at the end of the day so I take the responsibility for it.

'It's not for the lack of trying to find the answers.'

Celtic 0 Inverness Caley Thistle 1 match report:

Celtic 0 Inverness CT 1: Lennon stunned by McKay sucker punch

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UPDATED:

17:37 GMT, 24 November 2012

Billy McKay's second-half goal gave Inverness a shock win over
lacklustre Celtic in their Clydesdale Bank Premier League clash with
Inverness at Parkhead.

Following their 2-1 Champions League defeat by Benfica in Lisbon in
midweek Hoops boss Neil Lennon had claimed fatigue was impacting on his
squad and it looked that way as they never got going against the neat
and tidy visitors.

Just William: McKay celebrates scoring the winner

Just William: McKay celebrates scoring the winner

Match facts

Celtic: Forster, Lustig, Ambrose, Mulgrew, Matthews (Brown 69), Commons, Wanyama, Kayal, Samaras, Watt (McCourt 65), Hooper (Nouioui 76). Subs Not Used: Zaluska,Miku, Chalmers, McGeouch.

Booked: Samaras,Kayal.

Inverness CT: Reguero, Raven, Meekings, Warren, Graeme Shinnie, Tudur Jones, Foran, Doran, Andrew Shinnie, Roberts (Pepper 90), McKay (Sutherland 84). Subs Not Used: Mathieson, Oswell, Morrison, Polworth, Cooper. Booked: Roberts, Foran.

Goals: McKay 64.

Ref: Calum Murray (Scotland)

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Kris Commons and Mikael Lustig missed good chances for the home side in an otherwise dull first half but there was no second-half surge from the champions and indeed, after McKay notched in the 65th minute from close range, he later spurned a good chance to double their lead when he hit the bar with only Fraser Forster to beat.

Inverness manager Terry Butcher had challenged his side to maintain their record of having scored in every game this season and he will have no complaints although conversely, Lennon had a shouting match with one Celtic fan behind the dugout before the game had ended.

It was an afternoon of frustration for the former Hoops skipper who made three changes to his starting eleven. Commons, Beram Kayal and Tony Watt were drafted in with Kelvin Wilson (flu), Joe Ledley (groin) and Scott Brown dropping out, the Hoops skipper shrugging off an on-going hip complaint which may require surgery to take his place on the bench.

Butcher made one change to the side which lost 5-1 at home to Motherwell last week, with Philip Roberts in for Gavin Morrison.

The absence of the Green Brigade – the vociferous and occasionally controversial section of the Hoops support who were boycotting the match after claiming they had been subject to “oppressive police tactics” in recent months – deadened the atmosphere further in a half-filled stadium.

In the 12th minute the home fans who did turn up gave a standing ovation, apparently in support of the Green Brigade's actions, but that was mostly all they had to applaud in a lacklustre start to the match.

Caley defender Graeme Shinnie fired a 25-yard free-kick over the bar before Commons had an effort which failed to trouble Caley keeper Antonio Reguero.

Close call: Celtic's Efe Ambrose clears a shot from Inverness Caledonian Thistle's Aaron Doran off the line

Close call: Celtic's Efe Ambrose clears a shot from Inverness Caledonian Thistle's Aaron Doran off the line

The Highlanders' goal almost came under threat in the 17th minute when
Kayal played in Lustig but his attempted cut-back from the byline to
Gary Hooper was thwarted by a fine Josh Meekings tackle.

Almost 10 minutes later Celtic defender Charlie Mulgrew picked out
Hooper with a cross which allowed the striker to set up Kayal at the
edge of he box but the midfielder's shot was blocked by Caley skipper
Richie Foran and the ball spun through to Reguero.

Moments later at the other end, Owain Tudur Jones set up Andrew Shinnie but his 20-yard drive limped wide of the target.

The champions then squandered two good chances to break the deadlock.

In the 39th minute, as the Parkhead side broke swiftly, Hooper sent
Commons through but the Scotland midfielder's angled-shot from 12 yards
was wayward.

Two minutes later Lustig had a similar and possibly better opportunity
when Hooper cleverly allowed a Kayal pass to run through to the
right-back but he hit the side-netting with his unconvincing effort.

Celtic began the second half as they ended the first, on the front foot, but with still several gears to find.
The visitors, resolute in defence, carried more than a hint of danger on the break.

Parkhead defender Efe Ambrose came to Celtic's rescue in the 54th minute
when he cut out a dangerous cross from midfielder Aaron Doran and
although the corner came to nothing it served to accentuate the sense of
frustration inside Celtic Park.

Boys will be Bhoys: Neil Lennon argues with a Celtic fan

Boys will be Bhoys: Neil Lennon argues with a Celtic fan

Caley's goal was not a surprise and came through another swift counter.

Roberts took a pass from Doran inside the Celtic box, turned inside Adam
Matthews and Mulgrew, and fired the ball across for McKay to guide the
ball past Forster, with the home fans claiming offside.

Paddy McCourt replaced Watt and Brown came on for Matthews but before
the second substitution there was another scare for the Hoops when
Andrew Shinnie played in Tudur Jones but he could not set himself
properly and his effort was easily saved by Forster.

Celtic, urged on by their fans, stepped up the pressure and Gary Warren
hit his own post under pressure before Reguero made a good save from
what looked to be a Samaras header.

At last the match was warming up and before Hooper was replaced by
Lassad in the 75th minute, Lennon was warned by referee Calum Murray
after his frustrations boiled over.

With nine minutes remaining and the Caley goal under siege, Reguero made
a fine save from Commons powerful drive from 16 yards with the Hoops
midfielder firing the rebound over the bar.

In the 83rd minute Caley should have scored the second when they broke in a two-versus-one situation.

Doran set up McKay who hit the bar with only Forster to beat before the
Caley midfielder's shot from the rebound was cleared off the line by
Ambrose.

The Highlanders were made to defend for the rest of the match but held
on for the win, as Celtic Park echoed to the sound of boos at the final
whistle.

Celtic take on Benfica in Lisbon

Celtic look to channel spirit of '67 as Lennon's men face Benfica challenge

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UPDATED:

23:40 GMT, 19 November 2012

Following Celtic’s defeat of Barcelona at Parkhead a fortnight ago, Neil Lennon had Elton John on the phone offering congratulations. This after making Rod Stewart weep.

Should things go Lennon’s and Celtic’s way tonight in Lisbon, it might be Elvis calling on Wednesday. Or that bloke Snoop Dogg.

That is how enticing Group G has become for Celtic. And now they are back in Lisbon, a city with a major part in the club’s history.

Training days: Celtic prepare to take on Benfica in the Champions League

Training days: Celtic prepare to take on Benfica in the Champions League

Celtic

It is 45 years since Jock Stein’s Glaswegians became the first British club to win the European Cup and some of the club’s Lisbon Lions were on the flight to Portugal yesterday, as was the old trophy itself.

It is all part of a romantic nod to Lisbon that will see Lennon take his players for a light training session this morning at the Estadio Nacional where, in 1967, Inter Milan were beaten.

‘1967 is pivotal in our history and we all aspire to reach those heights again,’ Lennon said.

‘The Lisbon Lions are a very special team, a unique bunch of men in the history of the club and it is very poignant that we are playing in Lisbon.’

Such nostalgia touches everyone in green,
but so too do the feats of 2012. Had Celtic been outclassed by Benfica
and Spartak Moscow, as well as by Barcelona, there would have been
another lament about Scottish football and the state of the SPL
post-Rangers. But there would have been little surprise.

On the verge: Celtic could qualify for the knockout stages with a win in Portugal

On the verge: Celtic could qualify for the knockout stages with a win in Portugal

Sense of history: Celtic manager Neil Lennon (right) with Adam Matthews

Sense of history: Celtic manager Neil Lennon (right) with Adam Matthews

Glory: Celtic triumphed in 1969

Glory: Celtic triumphed in 1969

The opposite has occurred. Celtic have
not only beaten Spartak away and, magically, Barcelona at home, they
began the group with a 0-0 draw against Benfica. After four matches,
Celtic have seven points. The defeat of Barca means that there is now a
beautiful permutation facing Lennon.

Barcelona
play Spartak in Moscow at 5pm and if Messi and Co win, Celtic will know
at kick-off that they will make the last 16 with a score draw in the
Estadio da Luz.

Even
if Spartak beat Barcelona or Celtic lose, there is one game left — in
Glasgow against Spartak — in which there will still be a chance to make
it through. That night, Benfica will be at the Nou Camp.

What may make tonight problematic for Lennon’s team is that Benfica know their progress hinges on a win.

Lennon left the injured Emilio Izaguirre and James Forrest at home and has concerns over captain Scott Brown.

‘You are never relaxed, particularly at this level,’ Lennon added. ‘The landscape of the group can change on one night. This will be as tough as Barcelona, if not tougher.’

But he was relaxed enough yesterday to joke about rapper Snoop’s idea of buying a slice of Parkhead.

This is Celtic. There are dreams and songs to sing.

Celtic 1 St Johnstone 1: Match report

Celtic 1 St Johnstone 1: Hasselbaink leveler brings Hoops back down to earth after Barca heroics

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UPDATED:

19:08 GMT, 11 November 2012

Celtic appeared to be suffering a case of the Barcelona blues as they were held at home by St Johnstone in their Clydesdale Bank Premier League clash at Parkhead.

There was a tangible sense of anti-climax inside Celtic Park following the Hoops' historic 2-1 Champions League home win over the Catalan giants on Wednesday night and even when substitute Tony Watt, on at the break for Miku, put the home side ahead they did not look convincing.

Saints, who had been recently walloped 5-0 in the same venue in the Scottish Communities League Cup quarter-finals, sensed a point was there for the taking and Nigel Hasselbaink levelled in the 76th minute to leave Celtic with two points from the last nine and two behind Hibernian at the top of the table.

Watt a week: Tony Watt celebrates opening the scoring just days after scoring against Barcelona

Watt a week: Tony Watt celebrates opening the scoring just days after scoring against Barcelona

MATCH FACTS:

Celtic: Forster, Matthews, Ambrose (McGeouch 84), Wilson, Mulgrew, Brown, Wanyama, Ledley (Kayal 70), Commons, Miku (Watt 46), Samaras.

Subs Not Used: Zaluska, Lustig, McCourt, Ibrahim.

Goal: Watt 51

St Johnstone: Mannus, MacKay, McCracken (Miller 6),Wright, Callum Davidson, Millar, Murray Davidson, Robertson (Tade 71), Craig, Hasselbaink (Vine 84), MacLean.

Subs Not Used: Tuffey, Caddis, Kane, Tobin.

Booked: Murray Davidson.

Goal: Hasselbaink 77

Referee: Iain Brines

Parkhead manager Neil Lennon had warned against such a lacklustre display and could not have begrudged the Perth men a point.

Skipper Scott Brown returned to the midfield after missing the Barcelona game due to illness.

Defender Mikael Lustig started on the bench with Adam Matthews moving from left-back to the opposite side with Charlie Mulgrew moving back from midfield to left back.

St Johnstone defender Callum Davidson made a return following a back problem along with stopper David McCracken and midfielder David Robertson, with Gregory Tade and Gary Miller dropping to the bench and Steven Anderson out altogether.

This was a very different Celtic Park to the one which witnessed the momentous win over Barca.

There was a perfectly-observed minute's silence to commemorate Remembrance Day post-match but the opening stages were played out in near silence in front a vastly-reduced attendance.

The visitors suffered an early blow in the sixth minute when McCracken had to be replaced by Miller after taking a head knock whilst battling for the ball in the Celtic box.

Getting there first: Watt opens the scoring after his shot rebounds off Alan Manus to find it's way into the back of the net

Getting there first: Watt opens the scoring after his shot rebounds off Alan Manus to find it's way into the back of the net

Nevertheless, Steve Lomas's side, with Steven MacLean leading the line, appeared in positive mode.

A couple of whipped-in crosses from wide on the left by Mulgrew caused some panic but a free-kick from the Hoops utility player – and one from Kris Commons – were both saved with some comfort by Perth keeper Alan Mannus.

In the 26th minute, with Celtic in control, Victor Wanyama was presented with a great chance when Commons stood a cross up at the back post but the Kenyan mis-directed his header across goal, allowing Frazer Wright to complete the clearance.

Getting stuck in: Celtic's Kris Commons is tackled by St Johnstone's Frazer Wright

Getting stuck in: Celtic's Kris Commons is tackled by St Johnstone's Frazer Wright

Lean on me: St Johnstone's Chris Millar battles with Celtic's Beram Kayal

Lean on me: St Johnstone's Chris Millar battles with Celtic's Beram Kayal

The match trundled along at no great pace.

Parkhead midfielder Joe Ledley headed over the bar from Commons' cross, moments before the Scotland midfielder made a yard of space for himself at the edge of the box before sending a powerful drive over.

Watt, who had come on as a substitute to score against Barca, replaced Miku for the start of the second-half and six minutes later he put Celtic ahead.

Leveling up:The St Johnstone players smother scorer Nigel Hasselbaink (hidden) after his goal leveled the match

Leveling up:The St Johnstone players smother scorer Nigel Hasselbaink (hidden) after his goal leveled the match

Dejection: Celtic players look downbeat as St Johnstone level the match

Dejection: Celtic players look downbeat as St Johnstone level the match

Saints keeper Mannus did not look too clever when he allowed Mulgrew's searching pass to reached the former Airdrie striker who prodded the ball over the line from a couple of yards out with Wright clearing only when the it was over the line.

Not that the opener energised Celtic Park.

Just before the hour-mark a speculative shot from Dave MacKay dipped a yard wide of Fraser Forster's left-hand post Lomas was then sent to the stand by referee Iain Brine after appearing to remonstrate with the referee over his decision to let Watt back on after receiving treatment.

Unbelievable: Celtic's Victor Wanyama after the he spurns a great first half chance

Unbelievable: Celtic's Victor Wanyama after the he spurns a great first half chance

In the 75th minute Saints appealed for a penalty when Celtic defender Efe Ambrose clashed with Tade, on for Robertson, on the edge of the box but referee Brines gave a corner.

The visitors, though, were growing in confidence, pressing Celtic back and Liam Craig's deflected drive took Forster by surprise, the Hoops keeper smartly turning the ball over for a corner but that only delayed the leveller by moments.

The Celtic defence looked uneasy when Mackay's ball came into the box from Mackay and when it eventually fell to Hasselbaink he turned and drove it past Forster from around 10 yard.

Celtic responded and substitute Beram Kayal, on for Joe Ledley, drilled a shot from the edge of the box just over the bar.

St Johnstone, unsurprisingly, were forced to defend in the closing stages but they deservedly held out for a point.

Elton John told Celtic boss Neil Lennon he is a world beater for beating Barcelona

Lenny and the Jets! Lennon reveals Elton John called to congratulated him after his Celtic team took down Lionel Messi's Barca

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UPDATED:

16:48 GMT, 9 November 2012

Neil Lennon has revealed that Celtic’s famous victory over Barcelona on Wednesday night prompted a surprise phone call from Sir Elton John.

Celtic fan Rod Stewart was captured by the cameras crying in the stand after the Hoops had beaten the Catalan giants 2-1 in their Champions League Group G encounter at Parkhead.

However, a result which reverberated around the world led to the Celtic boss being contacted by another pop icon.

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Key to the door: Sir Elton John at Vicarage Road, Watford, in 1986, where he was opening a new stand

Key to the door: Sir Elton John at Vicarage Road, Watford, in 1986, where he was opening a new stand.

...maybe Lennon might get a new stand named after him following Celtic's win against Barcelona

…maybe Lennon should get a new stand named after him following Celtic's win against Barcelona

'I had a lot of texts from people in the game which was
fantastic but I got a call yesterday from left field from Sir Elton John
believe it or not, congratulating me,' said the Northern Irishman.

'I thought my missus was winding me up but it just shows you the interest it has generated among a lot of people.

'I
don’t think he was as emotional as Rod but he did tell me when he was
chairman of Watford and they got to the 1984 FA Cup final he was so
emotional that he did cry before the game.

Lennon poses at the Celtic training ground yesterday. The team who beat Barcelona play St Johnstone next

Lennon poses at the Celtic training ground yesterday. The team who beat Barcelona play St Johnstone next

Elton with Watford manager Graham Taylor in 1987

Elton with Watford manager Graham Taylor in 1987

'He was very
knowledgeable about the game and knew a lot about myself and it was
great that he took time out to call me, as he is going to Australia on
tour.”

Despite Stewart being arguably Celtic’s most famous supporter, Lennon admitted he had yet to meet him.

He said: 'Do you know, I have never met Rod. I didn’t get the chance to see him after the game.

Elton (left), with fellow football fan Rod Stewart (right). Elton's manager Bob Halley is in the centre.

Elton (left), with fellow football fan Rod Stewart (right). Elton's manager Bob Halley is in the centre.

'He does e-mail me from time to time so I hope to get to meet him soon.

'He
is a wonderful ambassador for the club, he loves the club and for
someone who has such a status in life to be such an avid supporter is
fantastic for our reputation as well.'

WHEN BENNIE WAS ON THE BALL
First recorded in France, Bennie and the Jets was included in the 1973 album, Goodbye Yellow Brick RoadAxl Rose of Guns and Roses says it was this son that inspired him to take up musicIt was number in the US single chart in 1974 and had sold 2.8million copies by 1976. It was Elton John's first US hitGuitarist Davey Johnstone said: 'Bennie and the Jets is one of the oddest songs we ever recorded'It is one of his most popular songs when performed live and Sir Elton will often vary the start – and the finish, while playing the piano.