Celtic can be proud despite defeat to Barcelona, says Charlie Nicholas
Last Updated: December 17, 2012 4:57pm
Despair: But Celtic did themselves proud, say panel
Celtic must take the positives from their performance at the Nou Camp, despite a last-minute defeat to Barcelona, says Charlie Nicholas.
Few expected the Scottish champions to restrict Barcelona but the visitors took a shock lead through Georgios Samaras on 18 minutes and, despite Andres Iniesta's leveller, looked set to secure a famous point in the Nou Camp.
But Jordi Alba broke Celtic hearts, poking home at the back post in the 94th minute.
Celtic should be proud of their display, though, Nicholas told Sky Sports: "Celtic were expected to turn up and not come away with anything but they come away with great pride.
"Their shape was good, they didn't get dragged into areas where we thought they might get exposed and they produced a good performance.
"Celtic were expected to turn up and not come away with anything but they come away with great pride. n"
"They've come to the hardest place and grown up with the experience. Now they've got to take all the positives from this: their keeper was outstanding, generally their shape was good and their only failing was switching off right at the end.
"Celtic did the same thing to Spartak Moscow, so they know what it's like to score a late winner but that's what Barcelona's all about, playing until the last kick off the ball."
Nicholas was also keen to highlight the performance of Celtic keeper Fraser Forster, who produced a string of fine saves and demonstrated the form which earned him an England call-up earlier this month.
"Foster was outstanding," Nicholas said. "It's his reaction saves that have got everyone talking about him and that's why he's just been called in to the England set-up.
"It's very difficult for goalkeepers in Scotland because people, especially national team managers, find it hard to judge what they've got, but he's produced a big performance in a big arena."
John Collins was equally impressed with Celtic's battling display and said boss Neil Lennon and his players must be devastated to have conceded so late in the game.
"I feel for Neil and the players; they gave absolutely everything," he said. "They were under the cosh in the second half but so many times they produced last ditch tackles, got a foot in and the keeper made great saves.
"They worked hard and they stayed together. Ok, you can say they never really held onto the ball enough, but it's so difficult against Barcelona. It was such a painful way to lose in that manner, but they can be proud of the effort they put in. They were so close to getting a magnificent point."
However, Collins pointed out Celtic could cause Barcelona further problems when the sides meet again at Celtic Park on 7 November, particularly from set-pieces.
"Barcelona are a small team and Celtic put two set-pieces into the box and they could have scored from both of them," he said.
"Any team that plays against Barcelona knows they are going to dominate you from start to finish and you're only going to get one or two chances - but you've got to take them."
Eidur Gudjohnsen, meanwhile, credited Barcelona's never-say-die attitude and their commitment to maintaining their passing style of play right up until the final whistle, no matter what the score is.
"Barcelona had all the possession but you have to feel for Celtic, they defended courageously," he said.
"They got a toe-poke here, a tackle there, they stuck together, they nullified the spaces and somehow managed to keep Lionel Messi fairly quiet, but football is a game of 94 minutes now these days.
"Barcelona never changed their style, they kept playing until the final whistle and they've always got that quality to create something. It's heart-breaking if you're a Celtic fan."