CELTIC V S.S. LAZIO.
VENUE: Celtic Park. Glasgow.
Thursday 24th October 2019.
This was the first competitive match between two of Europe’s truly big clubs but not their first meeting. That first introduction between the two go back as far as 30th of May 1950. Celtic travelled to Rome for Holy Year and to provide opposition for Lazio’s 50th birthday. The game itself ended 0-0 but Celtic great Bobby Collins said it was the most vicious match he ever played in. The game had to be stopped for 5 minutes due to the crowds rushing the ground. John McPhail recalls the day and how crazy their fans were. Italian hard man Remondini was suffering a torrid time from McPhail and wasn’t long until the two teams were having a go physically at each other. Referee stepped in and ordered Remondini off immediately and asked McPhail nicely to join him to appease the crowd.
McPhail quoted in Celtic view in 1974: “I had to walk a hundred yards, escorted by armed guards with fixed bayonets. I will never forget the howling mob, their hands gushing with blood, trying to get over the barbed wire fence.” Lazio returned the favour with a fixture on the 4th Of September the same year at Celtic Park. The hoops hammered the Italians 4-0 and John McPhail unforgiving of the first game scored all four.
Nearly 70 years on and not much has changed around the Rome club as several thousand of their fans ‘Goose Stepped’ through Glasgow to Celtic Park. The Facist salute with twisted contorted hate filled faces was also on display in the light of day in a City Centre Of Europe in 2019. Shameful really. Always a minority say the club, well its a fairly huge minority and even a stadium ban at their own ground wasn’t enough to at least keep a low key. After their vile facist behaviour against Rennes UEFA has ordered a partial closure of the section that the club itself sets aside for their racist Ultras in the Curva Nord. They were on probation and under warning from last season before they even set foot in Scotland.
Lazio spokesman Artur Diaconale has now come out to take aim at these Very fans who are giving the club an image that the rest of Europe identifies them with. “These people are bringing Hitler into Lazio and that is a huge mistake.” Artur behave yourself, the football world know your board facilitate these people and it’s not about Hitler, it’s Mussolini. Artur though can’t mention that, much easier to lump Hitler into it as it won’t make dinners and social events tricky with friends of the club, the Mussolini family. They have long been steeped in fascism with an unhealthy support for dictator Mussolini and his current family in the running of a right wing political party also steeped in racism. The Curva Nord is their breeding ground and use the name of Lazio to politicise and drive home their views that have had your ordinary fan turn their backs on attendance. There are left wing factions of their support but they dare not speak loudly. The S.S. Forename and Golden Standard Eagle above their crest is also perfect for their image.
All the aforementioned is why I would urge all Celtic fans travelling to Rome to stay together and stay safe. They have been banned from their shrine and will be happy enough marching around looking to pick off any Celtic fans. It’s what they do at Lazio, ruthless * and known as knife merchants.
Anyway the game...... sorry needed to get that off my chest. This was a big night for football in the East End and the Europa League had thrown a tasty double header with the Italian giants. The sounds that rumble around the stadium under the amazing light display is always the fans marker for backing the team and they expect a return. Unusually a lot of Celtic fans were pretty confident heading into this game after a long International lay off and a six goal drubbing of ICT at home. Lenny in his press conference sounded both comfortable and assured and this was a good sign. Lenny set the team up to attack and picked what he saw as his best 11 for the job of dismantling the Romans and Big Edourd was the focal point for our attacks.
From kick off Celtic players were absolutely buzzing all over the pitch. Passing, moving and making space. The Italians looked slightly rattled but they gathered composure quickly to defend strongly and show they were here for a game. Celtic pushing forward was fast paced and direct but We failed miserably in the final third looking bereft of ideas at breaking down the Lazio defence. They on the other hand were soaking up the pressure fairly well and were waiting on the perfect opportunity to counter attack with the hosts leaving themselves open at the back as they pressed up. It was during one of these attacks when a Christie shot was blocked and Joaquin Correra broke out and slipped the ball onto the advancing Lazarri who made into the box from the right and shoot a stunning goal across the face of Forster and into the back of the net. 40th minute 0-1 Lazio.
Both teams took the field for the second half and Celtic didn’t look to have changed their plans. Pouring forward again at every opportunity and the optimists among us still urged Celtic on for the win, the pessimists always love a moan. Although we were leaving ourselves exposed at the back Lenny decided attack after attack was the best gamble. It certainly kept the punters on edge and the atmosphere just seemed to build with each attack. It wasn’t all one way traffic and both teams had their moments. Elyounoussi and Christie having efforts blocked in the box and Correra rattling Forsters right hand post. Celtic earlier had damaged the paintwork. Forster had to be 100% concentrated and on his game as Lazio tried to settle the tie with a second.
In the magic 67th minute the hard work and energy paid off for Celtic when Edourd used those dancing feet to steal a couple of yards, take out three players with a direct lay on for Ryan Christie to step up and curl the ball past the keeper and into his left side. A smashing goal at the right time to pump up the stadium to full volume and provide a huge adrenaline shot for every man in green and white. Lazio started becoming a bit more aggressive with a few meaty challenges thrown in for good measure. With nearly 10 minutes to go Bolingoli let Lazzari drift past him and pass through for Parolo who struck his shot hard to find it blocked by the “Great Wall” Forster to deny.
During all the breathless action Lazio introduced Serie A top scorer Immobile on to put the hoops to the sword. With 6 minutes left the talisman had the Celtic goal at near mercy but scorched wide, thankfully. With the 90th minute mark approaching Edourd rolled through to Celtic Captain Scott Brown who was free on the edge of Lazio’s box. Broony laced the ball and after reviewing several times I believe it was goal bound as it rose but deflected wide. Christie placed the ball for the corner and took a cross better than any corner delivery he has had at Celtic and onto the colossus Julliens head who directed a rocket into the right hand corner of the net. Celtic Park erupted in scenes reminiscent of the the Scott McDonald goal against Milan and fan Big Paul Rowntree (You’ll never live it down Escobar) fell over the barrier onto the trackside to provide a great YouTube opportunity. There was enough time in the 94th minute for big Fraser Forster to pull off another unbelievable save one handed to push his England credentials. Amazing night. Unreal.
Celtic now sit at the top of Europa League group E on 7 points with 2 wins and a draw and a goal difference of +3. Another massive feather in Neil Lennons cap that saw him take his 50th game as manager in Europe. The whole team who played in the game deserve the highest praise for staying strong at 1-0 down because Celtic teams of the near past would have capitulated. But to go on and control huge amounts of the game and score two second half goals just fuels the belief among the fans we have a special team here. Special mentions to Man of the Match Christopher Jullien who not once put a foot wrong and looked so assured. Ryan Christie per usual never fails, Elhamed and Captain Marvel Scott Brown who was everywhere and all over everything. Brilliant. Lazio had a few decent performances with Correra and Lazzari giving us defensive nerves with their counter play. A really great match that was played in the right spirit by two good sides. Now for victory in Rome.
As for the fans, Celtic also came out on top by letting the opposition know how we feel about racist and fascist obsessive supports. The Green brigade with a great display in a large white star in a sea of green with the words Brigate Verde as a nod toward the Partisan faction in Italy who deposed and put in front of the firing squad Mussolini, his mistress and trusted aides. All hung by the feet from an Esso garage in Milan in 1945 just before the war ended. What a legacy, pardon the pun. The bhoys also displayed several Tifos in the form of messages in Italian with their spellings perfecto. The sucker punch was the one depicting Mussolini hanging by the feet and was enough to get Facist politician Alessandra Mussolini, the granddaughter, shouting from the rooftops about prosecuting the Celtic fans for such disgusting behaviour. Ironic, images worse than murder.
FROM ME AND THE CELTIC FANS.......
ALESSANDRA MUSSOLINI VAFFANCULO.
- 67: Forster
- 33: ElhamedSubstituted forBittonat 83'minutes.
- 2: JullienBooked at 77mins
- 35: AjerBooked at 90mins
- 23: Bolingoli-MbomboSubstituted forHayesat 85'minutes
- 8: Brown
- 42: McGregor
- 49: Forrest
- 17: Christie
- 27: ElyounoussiBooked at 62minsSubstituted forRogicat 66'minutes
- 22: Edouard
- 1: Gordon
- 6: Bitton
- 10: Bayo
- 11: Sinclair
- 13: Bauer
- 15: Hayes
- 18: Rogic
- 1: Strakosha
- 15: Jacinto QuissangaBooked at 76mins
- 93: Vavro
- 33: Acerbi
- 29: Lazzari
- 16: Parolo
- 6: Leiva
- 21: Milinkovic-Savic
- 22: Rodríguez MenéndezSubstituted forLulicat 69'minutes
- 11: CorreaSubstituted forImmobileat 73'minutes
- 20: CaicedoSubstituted forCataldiat 85'minutesBooked at 87mins
FT: Celtic 2-1 Lazio
- 3: Ramos Marchi
- 4: Gabarrón Gil
- 7: Berisha
- 17: Immobile
- 19: Lulic
- 23: Guerrieri
- 32: Cataldi
Christie 67. Lazzari 40
MOTM: Christopher Jullien.