Pictures by Bill Heaney
There’s a first time for everything. Tonight I am going to roll the reports of both the Celtic and Rangers games into one.
But I’ll do it frack to bunt since Celtic’s night ended in elation after a 2-1 win over Red Bull Leipzig at Parkhead.
And Rangers’ evening with deep disappointment when their match with Spartak Moscow finished with the score at 4-3 for the Russians.
Men of the match for Celtic were Eduard and Tierney, both of whom scored spectacular goals. Rangers’ best player once again was Allan MacGregor, their goalkeeper.
Tierney’s tremendous strike came after just ten minutes of a hard fought match when he smashed an unstoppable left foot shot through the German goalkeeper into the net.
Celtic, who looked a completely different team from the one that has appeared in domestic games this season, had every one of its players in top form and fitness.
Their stable of young players such as Christie, whose penetrating run led to Eduard’s winner, was outstanding.
And then there was Eduard himself, Tierney, McGregor and the young centre backs Boyata and Berkovic who altogether must now be worth the budget of a small country.
Leipzig were no mugs and were hard, fast and professional as they went about their task of taking on Celtic and the 60,000 crowd who cheered them on from start to finish.
There will be no doubting Thomases (Tims) on the Celtic Park terracing now when Brendan Rodgers’s ability to produce successful tactics for a for a European game is up for discussion in the pubs.
Rodgers said: “Some of our football was fantastic and the team kept fighting to the very end. The players were absolutely brilliant and they so deserved to win the game.”
Leipzig’s goal was a cracking header by Augustin and then they hit the bar in the 78th minute, but Celtic without Scott Brown and their defence depleted by injury held on to the end of a great European night at Celtic Park.
Rangers flattered only to deceive. They looked like they would skate this match but then fell on their backsides after going ahead three times before coming away with nothing.
That being said, they too were hampered by injuries and the team which didn’t look very good on paper were a disappointment on the park.
Candeis and Middleton scored their goals and the first one which set them off running was an o.g. by Emerenko which gave MacGregor, who must be wondering why he had so many brilliant saves and still came away defeated, no chance.
Spartak too were on the lucky side when a Goldson shot spun into the net at the other end for a Rangers own goals but three more goals from Melgarejo, Adriano and Hanni saw them through.
Rangers should at least have had a draw when in the last minute of extra time Tavernier hit the Spartak post with a diving header.
The murmuring on the Ibrox terracings about the ability of Stevie Gerrard to come up with tactics for major matches such as this one – and games against old rivals Celtic – will continue.
Taking on the coaching job at Ibrox was never going to be easy for him.