10-man Celtic Beat Barcelona 1-0

11 March 2004
Ronaldinho couldn’t stop Celtic keeping a clean sheet in both legs of the tie
Ronaldinho couldn’t stop Celtic keeping a clean sheet in both legs of the tie

When you think of Celtic beating Barcelona, you are immediately drawn to the famous 2012 game, and the image of Rod Stewart weeping with joy. However, that was not the only time this century where Celtic upset the odds and beat the Catalan giants.

On the 11th of March 2004 Celtic managed a seismic 1-0 victory in the 4th round of the Uefa Cup.

Barcelona may not have been the juggernaut they would become two years later, but they were still a side to be feared, fielding world-class talent like Ronaldinho, Saviola, Xavi and Puyol.

Celtic too were a different beast to their modern iteration. The season prior the Hoops had narrowly lost to Jose Mourinho’s Porto in the final of the UEFA Cup.

The first half panned out as you would expect, Barca dominating possession, while Celtic looked dangerous on the occasional counter-attack.

To the bemusement of fans, most of the drama seemed to take place during the tunnel at half-time. Thiago Motta, upset with the intense treatment dished out by Celtic’s man-mountain Bobo Balde, accosted his marker…

A physical confrontation broke out that saw Motta and Celtic’s goalkeeper Rab Douglas receive red cards. The Celtic stopper deemed to have played the role of peacekeeper far too violently.

The excitement finally made its way onto the field in the second half, where to the bemusement of the crowd only 20 players re-emerged. One of them Celtic’s teenage goalkeeper David Marshall.

During the course of the tie David Marshall put in one of the finest goalkeeping displays Celtic fans had ever seen.

An invisible red mist seemed to hang in the air, and Saviola was next to feel its effects.

Irked at missing a number of clear-cut chances, and enraged at a robust challenge from Celtic’s wide-man Alan Thompson, the little Argentine took matters into his own hands and kicked Thompson wildly.

Referee Wolfgang Stark was forced to use his red card for the third time.

Thompson dusted himself off to score a sublime scissor kick shortly after.

Celtic managed to keep Barcelona from sullying their clean sheet, not just for the remainder of the game, but for the entire 90 minutes the following week in the Nou Camp.

The 1-0 aggregate win remains one of the best of Celtic’s achievements since the turn of the millennium.