Lennon feared Barcelona would break Celtic hearts again
Published 08/11/2012 | 14:35
NEIL Lennon admits he feared another Barcelona comeback even when Tony Watt fired Celtic into a two-goal lead with just seven minutes remaining at Parkhead last night.
The Hoops lost 2-1 to an injury-time Jordi Alba goal at the Nou Camp last month after going ahead and last night, as they did in their Champions League Group G encounter in Spain, Barcelona dominated throughout.
However, on this occasion Celtic were able to establish a two-goal lead with midfielder Victor Wanyama heading in a first-half corner before 18-year-old Watt, on for Mikael Lustig to make his debut in the group stages of the competition, raced away to score the second.
And that proved crucial as, while Lionel Messi reduced the deficit with a close-range strike as the enthralling encounter edged into injury-time to ensure a nervy ending, it ultimately proved to be no more than a consolation for the Catalan giants.
However, Lennon told talkSPORT: "Seriously, when Tony Watt scored the second goal in 83 minutes, I turned round to my assistant Johan (Mjallby) and said 'I think we might get a point out of this game'.
"The legs of some players were starting to go a little bit and they (Barca) just wear you down.
"They keep coming and keep coming but it was a remarkable effort.
"We had to dig deep. It meant so much to so many people and it is a boost for Scottish football considering all the negative press we have had over the last six months.
"I told them before the game that this was their moment, make the most of it.
"At the Nou Camp we defended valiantly and came away with nothing and before the game I said, 'don't be gallant losers again, use that as motivation. You know what's coming, know you are going to lose possession and be under pressure, can you see it out this time?'
"To be fair, we got the breaks at the right time.
"I told them to enjoy it because they had done something very special."
Celtic, with seven points from four games, two less than leaders Barca, travel to Benfica later in the month before hosting Spartak Moscow in their final fixture.
Benfica have four points following their home win last night over Spartak, who are bottom of the group with three points.
Lennon said: "At the end of the day we haven't done anything yet, we haven't qualified.
"I said judge us over six games and we have given ourselves a great platform.
"What it means is that Barcelona still have to get something out of the next two games which benefits us.
"They will have to get a point or maybe three out of the two remaining games which is great because they could have had 12 points after last night if they had beaten us and could have chopped and changed in the remaining two games.
"It gives us a foothold to get something at Benfica or against Spartak Moscow in the last game and really, that is all we could have asked for going into this competition."