Lennon ranks victory over Barca as highlight of his life

Neil Lennon has defended his tactics ahead of the crunch tie

Neil Lennon has defended his tactics ahead of the crunch tie

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Neil LENNON experienced an all-time highlight last night as Celtic beat Barcelona 2-1 in their Champions League Group G clash at Parkhead.

The drama began in the 21st minute when midfielder Victor Wanyama headed in from a Charlie Mulgrew corner.

The home side had to defend for most of the game as the star-studded visitors hit the woodwork twice and goalkeeper Fraser Forster pulled off vital saves.

However, in the 83rd minute 18-year-old Tony Watt, on for Mikael Lustig to make his debut in the group stages of the competition, raced away to score the second, leaving Lionel Messi’s late strike a consolation.

Hoops boss Lennon, a former Celtic skipper, said: “This is up there with anything I’ve done in my life.

“Playing-wise, being in the team that reached the Uefa Cup final was pretty special and the ten years I had under Martin O’Neill were great times.

“I had great times under Gordon [Strachan], making the last 16 [of the Champions League] and beating Manchester United. But, as a manager, I don’t know if I will top that.

“I hope I do and progress. I am still young, still learning, but it’s up there with anything I’ve achieved, not just in my football career, but in my life.”

Lennon admitted his side carried some luck, but was just as quick to point out the difference between the two clubs.

He said: “Barcelona had good chances and once again my keeper made some great saves. To beat Barcelona you need your goalkeeper to play well and the men in front of him obviously to be disciplined and concentrated.

“But, as far we are concerned, we just played the best team in the world and Tito Vilanova can bring on David Villa and Cesc Fabregas and I am bringing on an 18-year-old kid who cost £50,000 from Airdrie.”

Former Airdrie player 
Watt could hardly believe the significance of his first senior goal at Celtic Park.

He said: “It’s unbelievable, one of the best victories in the club’s history, probably. It’s my first goal at Parkhead and it couldn’t have come any better.”

Barca coach Vilanova said: “If we had scored first it might have been different. But they scored first which allowed them to defend and their goalkeeper was brilliant. It is not the first time we have lost a game like this and it won’t be the last.”