Celtic enjoy Juve treat then cruel trick on Halloween

Celtic Park, Glasgow – 31/10/2001 – Group stage
Valgaeren 24 Sutton 45, 64 Larsson 57 (P)
4 - 3
  • Del Piero 19
  • Trezeguet 51, 77
Edge of the seat

"Maybe we underestimated them a little." Pavel Nedvěd


• Real Madrid CF registered 35 goals during the campaign, equalling their own record for the winners set in 1999/2000. The goals were divided between 14 players, with Raúl González contributing six.

• Real Madrid, FC Barcelona and Bayer 04 Leverkusen overturned one-goal first-leg deficits to prevail in the quarter-finals, with Madrid and Leverkusen hitting their winners in the final six minutes.

• FC Bayern München equalled AFC Ajax's record of 19 UEFA Champions League games unbeaten before Real Madrid ended the holders' run – and defence – in the quarter-final second leg at the Santiago Bernabéu.

Halloween brought a seven-goal treat for a sell-out crowd in Glasgow, and the glory of a stirring UEFA Champions League victory against the Old Lady of Italian football – yet the night fate would ultimately play a cruel trick on the Scottish titleholders.

Martin O'Neill's side went into the game knowing that beating the section's runaway leaders represented their only chance of pipping FC Porto to runners-up spot in the first group stage. It did not begin well, with Alessandro Del Piero breaking the deadlock on 19 minutes, but Celtic hurried and harried, and two goals from Chris Sutton helped turn things around. The partisan crowd were in raptures; then news of Porto's win against Rosenborg BK filtered through.

The hosts deserved more, having taken the game to Juventus from the start, fuelled by the powerful running of Didier Agathe on the right and the creative probing of Lubomír Moravčík in the middle. The Slovakian international was twice denied by Fabián Carini, and his frustration was exacerbated when the visitors took the lead against the run of play. Del Piero, fouled 25 metres out, picked himself up to curl an immaculate free-kick into the top corner.

The stadium fell eerily silent, but not for long as five minutes later the home side were level, Joos Valgaeren diving to head in Moravčík's cross. Now Celtic were on in the ascendant, Agathe firing wide and Henrik Larsson misdirecting a header from close range. Larsson, on the stroke of half-time, then saw his elaborate back-heel turned wide, but from the resulting corner Sutton rose to head in Moravčík's corner.

Half-time substitute David Trezeguet restored parity but back came Celtic. Larsson converted from the spot after Mark Iuliano used foul means to keep Sutton in check, and the Englishman made it 4-2 with an unstoppable volley on 64 minutes following another Moravčík set piece.

Still Juventus would not lie down and Trezeguet reduced the arrears, reward for his determination after two ricochets fell favourably in his path. Thirteen anxious minutes ensued but Celtic held on – only to learn that Porto had beaten Rosenborg to clinch the runners-up spot. It was cruel luck on the Glasgow giants, who had to make do with a place in the UEFA Cup, not to mention the respect of their esteemed opponents.

Star players

  • Sutton

    Sutton briefly became the most expensive player in English football in July 1994, when he swapped Norwich City FC for Blackburn Rovers FC in a €7.5m deal. A physical striker with fearsome aerial ability, he formed the SAS partnership with Alan Shearer which spurred Blackburn onto their first title in 81 years. Following a difficult spell at Chelsea FC, Sutton won three titles in six successful years at Celtic FC.

  • Larsson

    A prolific striker who won two Dutch Cups with Feyenoord, Larsson devoted his best years to Celtic FC, winning four Scottish titles in seven years in Glasgow. Two campaigns at FC Barcelona garnered back-to-back Liga titles and the 2006 UEFA Champions League and the Sweden captain, who played in six major international final tournaments, took time off from a farewell stint at Helsingborgs IF to help Manchester United FC win the Premier League.

  • Del Piero

    'Il Fenomeno Vero' (the Real Phenomenon) made the Trequartista role his own during a career spanning two decades at Juventus. No other player has made as many appearances for the club nor scored as many goals; few anywhere can compete with his honours, including the 1996 UEFA Champions League, five Serie A titles and the 2006 FIFA World Cup. "I'm certain Del Piero never grows old," Diego Maradona noted.

What happened next?

• Third in Group E, Celtic FC transferred to the UEFA Cup but their campaign ended no sooner than it had begun, Martin O'Neill's men losing to Valencia CF on penalties in the third round.

• Juve may have breezed through the first group stage but the second was not so easy; they finished bottom behind Bayer 04 Leverkusen, RC Deportivo La Coruña and Arsenal FC.

• Marcello Lippi's charges recovered to win their 26th Scudetto, clinching the title on the final day of the season when leaders FC Internazionale Milano lost 4-2 against S.S. Lazio.

• The Bianconeri defended their Serie A title in 2002/03 but were denied a third European Cup when they lost the UEFA Champions League final to AC Milan on penalties in Manchester.

• Celtic also retained their league crown, one of six titles in eight years of domestic dominance. The following season they also reached the UEFA Cup final before losing to FC Porto.

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