Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Alba breaks Celtic hearts

Jordi Alba scored the latest of late winners to deny Celtic the most unlikeliest and deserved of points, away to the Champions league favourites Barcelona.

The Scottish champions gave their illustrious opponents a run for their money, and more then matched the 2011 winners for the most part, and only goals in the last minute of either halves prevented an amazing result.

Javier Mascherano deflected a Georgios Samaras header into his own net to silence the Nou Camp and give the Hoops a shock lead. Neil Lennon's side almost went in at half-time ahead, however Andres Iniesta weaved his magic and finished off a typical Barca team goal in calm fashion. Despite being camped in the opponents half, Lionel Messi and co struggled to break Celtic down, however Alba scored in the last of four added minutes to steal the win in the cruelest of fashions.

Alba's late strike means Barcelona only need a point to progress
Defensively through out Celtic were brilliant, with Kevin Wilson and Efe Ambrose in particular superb. Lennon's side put in a ridiculous amount of last ditched tackles in and around the penalty area, as they so nearly left the Nou Camp with a priceless point. 

Four points from six meant anything from their trip to the Nou Camp would've been a bonus, and Celtic were fortunate to avoid going behind within two minutes as Iniesta found Alexis Sanchez with a precise throw ball and the Chile international chipped over Forster, but narrowly wide.

Unsurprisingly Barcelona were dominating possession, however against the run of play Celtic took the lead. Charlie Mulgrew's delivery was perfect and Samaras's header was deflected into his own goal by Mascherano.

Celtic caused Barca problems from set pieces
Celtic's approach didn't change, and they defended courageously to keep the Catlan giants a bay for the majority of the first half; however they couldn't see it through as Iniesta finished off a sublime team goal. Iniesta, Messi and Xavi all combined with the latter setting Iniesta up who beat Forster with a calm finish.

The first chance of the second half was Celtic's as another set piece caused Barca problems, but a combination of Vincent Wanayama and Ambrose failed to make a meaningful connection with the free kick.

Barcelona were starting to create clear cut chances, and only the heroics of Foster prevented a third goal. The former Newcastle man denied Sanchez and Messi in quick succession, with the save from the little Argentine's header in particular world-class.

David Villa was a late substitute, and in the first minute of added time he appeared to have won the game for Barca, but his curling effort beat Forster, but not the post. In the end Villa's miss was irrelevant as Alba broke Celtic hearts.

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