In front of a large attendance of 47,900 spectators, Celtic started well in front of the vocal Irish-based Celtic supporters and had an effort kicked wide inside the first two minutes.
Barcelona started to dominate proceedings from then on, and made the breakthrough in the 11th minute when Arda Turan scored from the edge of the Celtic box. Barcelona’s pressure continued for the remainder of the first quarter of the tie, with the odd Celtic effort coming through Roberts, just before the 20th minute.
A mix-up between Barcelona goalkeeper, Suarez-Garcia, and Jose A. Martinez allowed Leigh Griffiths in to level the score. Immediately though the Catalans put on the pressure and a ball sent in from the left wing caused havoc for the Celts, as a touch from Celtic defender Ambrose put the ball in his own net.
Just on the 40th minute a ball out left by Messi to Suarez saw the former Liverpool striker send a pass across the square to Munir Mohamed who had the simplest of touches to net a third Barcelona goal heading to the half-time interval. The stats showed 63% possession for the Catalans in the first half, with three shots on goal and 3 scores, with Celtic having just 37% possession.
A better effort was expected from the large crowd of partisan Celtic fans in the stadium in the second-half. Sergi Samper replaced Barcelona’s starman, Lionel Messi, for the restart. Celtic made wholesale changes, putting on Cifti, Dembélé, Armstrong, Rogic, Ajer, and Fasan. The first real chance of the half fell to Celtic’s Tomas Rogic who shot to the right and wide just from the edge of the Barcelona box. In the 57th minute a Celtic defensive error allowed Denis Suarez a free shot at goal, only to be denied by half-time goalkeeping replacement for Celtic, Leonardo Fasan.
Both teams made many substitutions on the hour mark, with Barca taking off five players including Luis Suarez, and Celtic replacing Janko, Ambrose and Forrest. Much of the games momentum was lost by this stage. In the 82nd minute, Rogic had another effort for the Glasgow club which he fired wide from the edge of the Barcelona square.
As many fans began leaving the stadium in the final 10 minutes, there was a sense that both teams were just playing out the game, knowing the result was not going to change. Following an entertaining first-half, with four goals scored, the numerous change throughout the second period ensured the game lack the fluency of the first playing period. The fact that Messi, Barcelona’s main star didn’t start the second half, took a little from the many young children in the crowd who had come to see the world’s best player.
Final score: Celtic 1 Barcelona 3.
Celtic return to Ireland in a fortnight when they play Inter Milan at Thomond Park in Limerick. Tickets are currently available from Ticketmaster.ie.