Was it really twenty two years ago today? Join us on one of our periodic trips down Amnesia Lane as we remember the 6:2 game through the murky historical lens of a selection of pages from NTV 88.
Oh bhoy, how do you sum this up?
Certainly the most incredible opening 11 minutes I’ve ever seen. It could easily have been 3-2 in that time but for some pathetic finishing from the away team.
Prior to the match the big talking point had been Petta – he could certainly put wee teams to the sword but how would he do in the real thing?
The answer came in the first minute with a direct run straight at Ricksen, a player not destined for the best afternoon of his career. That run won a comer from which Sutton fired us in front (Offside! cried all the papers. Correct we say, and we hope you choke on it!).
Cue some light applause from the Celtic faithful.
Only moments later Stubbs was doing a fair Ricksen impression as he lumbered after Reyna down the right wing. A clumsy challenge saw the visitors put a free kick on to the head of Dodds, who somehow managed to play it straight back across the face of the goal. Costly miss big ears.
Celtic went straight back up the pitch, Petta again tied Ricksen in a neat knot, and we scored number two, the Rangers defence appearing to suffer from temporary paralysis as Petrov headed in. Cue increased applause, and some faint cries of “Bravo”.
So far we’d had two shots and scored with both. Not bad.
Generous to a fault we then gave the Rangers another go at our goal. This time Jackie McNamara had to kick off the line, and again we went straight up the pitch to score. Petta took on two defenders before playing in Lubo. His cutback was leathered in to the net by the captain.
Cue absolute bloody hysterics.
This time there was no instant response from Rangers. They were out for the count. We can only wonder what would have happened if Larsson had taken the chance that fell to him only minutes after the 3rd. Rangers got their line in a fankle and there he was with only Klos to beat. For once he was over elaborate and the chance was lost.
Rangers seemed to draw some heart from this, and they got themselves back into the game, helped by the substitution of Ricksen, carted off in a straightjacket gibbering madly and still twisting on the stretcher trying to find Petta.
With this alteration the game changed slightly, Petta no longer having an open door into the Rangers box. The game changed, not unsurprisingly, thanks to a crude challenge by a Rangers defender on Lambert, forcing the captain to leave the field early. Mjalby isn’t exactly a bad replacement, but substitutes take time to get into the game, and while the big man was getting up to speed the Rangerss were awarded a goal, Reyna’s header being judged to have crossed the line.
Controversial? Well as it turned out it didn’t matter. Things were about to be evened up. With the Celts beginning to look fragile Wallace broke through and put the ball in. He was flagged for offside. He wasn’t. Ha, ha, choke on that one as well. After years of dodgy decisions we finally get one back.
Half time rescued us. After the break the team came out with a renewed sense of purpose and Henke soon made amends for his earlier gaffe. Collecting the ball midway inside their half he shook off Tugay before nutmegging Konterman, finishing with the most perfectly judged chip. Has there ever been a better goal against the Rangers?
Unfortunately old habits die hard. Minutes later Mahe conceded a penalty, and a seed of doubt was planted again. Not to worry, today the Hun sieve was in the ascendancy.
If you were defending a free kick how many defenders would you put on Larsson? I? 2? None? Would you leave him with a, not very good in the air midfielder? That’s what Advocaat did. Tactical genius.
The only thing missing was a red card, but we weren’t to be disappointed, Bazza getting first use of the rubber duck after … well take your pick from; deliberate handball, dissent, throwing the ball away, threatening behaviour, industrial language.
The final shot to the head was delivered by the men who started the whole show in the first place – Petta played in Mahe, his cross found Sutton, and he gave us our biggest ever win against them at Celtic Park.
six goal Celtic could have had eight
The Scotsman 28/08/2000 Glenn Gibbons at Celtic Park
FOR a team supposedly cowering under an inferiority complex developed by years of subjection, Celtic gave an impeccable impersonation of practised oppressors in what was an astonishing first Old Firm match of this new season.
Clearly inspired by the hardness of physique and spirit brought by the new signings, Chris Sutton and Joos Valgaeren, and the extraordinary resurgence of form by the previously ridiculed Bobby Petta, Martin O’Neill’s renascent team not only freed themselves from Rangers’ yoke, but reversed the accepted roles by putting their erstwhile tormentors through an ordeal.
Sutton’s bravado in the weeks since he arrived on a pounds 6 million fee from Chelsea included the startling assertion that “it’s time to put Rangers in their place”, evoking yelps of profane retaliation and threatening to burst neck veins among the more animated Ibrox supporters and mere dismissive scepticism among the more placid.
The big striker could hardly have given more substance to his notion, scoring the first and last of Celtic’s goals in, astoundingly, the first and last minutes. Sutton’s contribution embraced more than a personal double, however, as he underlined the impression – growing since the first match – that he could be an even more profitable partner for Henrik Larsson than the unlamented Mark Viduka.
Sutton virtually terrorised Lorenzo Amoruso and the unconvincing Bert Konterman for most of an afternoon in which he seemed to sense from the start that this would be his game, the milieu in which all the bad memories of a wretched year at Stamford Bridge would be eradicated.
But, in a contest involving 11-man teams, nobody will ever achieve objectives, or even rid themselves of personal demons, without the support Sutton received from team-mates who played with the commitment of revolutionaries.
If Larsson appeared in the first half still to be appreciably short of the touch and sharpness which made him a diabolical presence before last year’s leg break, he showed with two goals after the interval that these qualities are recoverable even in the course of a single game.
Curiously, the extraordinary Swede, during a first half of breathtaking incident, missed possibly the two easiest opportunities of the match.
Paul Lambert’s exceptional contribution before he was replaced by Johan Mjallby (the result of a groin injury) encompassed more than an exquisite goal and Stilian Petrov, too, when recalling what he gave to the victory, would be entitled to reflect on much more than the close-range header which put him among the scoring credits.
Since the 5-1 defeat on the same ground in November, 1998, Rangers have established such dominion that nobody would have thought it possible they could concede that many, far less six, in a single match against any opposition, domestic or foreign.
As events unfolded yesterday, they could easily have been taken for eight.
These may be early days to be offering judgements on players who were signed only in the summer, but the evidence so far suggests that Konterman and Fernando Ricksen, the Dutch “defenders”, already have a great deal of atonement ahead of them if they are to convince a demanding Ibrox support that they are the real thing.
Ricksen was removed after 21 minutes, and not simply because – with Celtic already three ahead – Dick Advocaat wished to resort to another midfielder when he drafted Tugay. It was primarily because the right-back had already been given a tortuous time by Petta, who at one point appeared to be teasing the Ibrox defenders. To Celtic fans, this would have been unimaginable a few months ago.
Konterman appears to lack conviction and solidity as a defender and, teamed with the sometimes disorientated and nonchalant Amoruso, there was an ever-present potential for mayhem in front of Stefan Klos. What would numb the senses of the visiting fans would be the rapidity and the mercilessness with which Celtic would exploit the weakness.
The unreality of those opening 11 minutes, when Celtic established a three-goal lead, made the whole thing seem like a rehearsal, as if the real show – the one in which Celtic perform creditably in defeat – had still to start. But the raucous celebration among the home supporters was a deafening reminder that this was no illusion.
The match was less than a minute old when Lubo Moravcik’s corner kick from the left was touched into the box by Alan Stubbs. Larsson actually miscued his scoring attempt and the ball screwed towards Sutton, who bulleted it low over the line with his right foot from a position just a yard or so from the dead-ball line.
Rangers’ appalling defending was in full bloom at the second, Petrov running untracked from the 18-yard line to meet another whipped corner from Moravcik six yards out and send the header past Klos. Not an opponent was seen within three yards of the Bulgarian.
It was the diligence and tenacity of Petta and Moravcik on the left which led to the third, the Slovakian finally taking possession, swerving past Konterman and rolling the ball back to Lambert, who drilled his right-foot shot from 15 yards far to the left of Klos.
During the period after Claudio Reyna reduced the deficit with a header from Rod Wallace’s chip, an unnecessary anxiety seemed to descend on the home defence, but it may have derived from being in such an unaccustomed position.
Larsson put an end to the nervousness when he received Sutton’s chested pass from Jonathan Gould’s long punt, dragged the ball past Konterman and chipped Klos with perfect control from outside the area. The Swede headed the fifth from Petta’s free kick – this after Billy Dodds had converted a penalty kick awarded for Stephane Mahe’s foul on Wallace – and Sutton slotted in the sixth from close range, from Mahe’s low centre from the left.
By then, Barry Ferguson had been sent off for deliberate hand ball, his second yellow card after being punished for an earlier foul on Petrov. The midfielder’s gesture towards the crowd as he left the field may have recriminations.
As O’Neill himself emphasised before the game, nothing that happened would necessarily indicate that the new era of supremacy for his club is at hand. But those supporters who danced home under the influence of the kind of euphoria that comes only rarely, would receive yesterday’s clubbing of the old enemy as at least a step in the direction of salvation.
They say everybody remembers where they were when John F Kennedy was shot. Certainly the FBI’s leading marksmen can easily recall that they were on a grassy knoll, behind a tree and on the 6th floor of a Dallas book repository peering out of a window.
So, where were you when we won 6:2?
The guys who make NTV’s favourite pizzas and fish ‘n chips remember where they were on that fateful day.
Having been at a wedding the night before, Rico Margiotta picked up his disposable camera with the intention of putting it in to have the mementoes of that romantic day developed. There were a few shots left, but he was keen to get the snaps back as soon as possible. So, on the way to Celtic Park his brother Guido nipped into the shops, bought a paper and duly forgot to hand in the camera.
The boys settled into their seats later that afternoon, right by the segregation line. Guido’s hand goes into his pocket and he discovers his camera. And so it’s panoramic views of Paradise.
The teams come out to warm up and practice a few moves. He’s a bit small in the picture, but if you look really closely you’ll see Fernando Ricksen rurming around in circles with his mouth open.
Barry Ferguson is stretching in his work clothes ’cos he can really stare through his frown and he’s totally mental. Yep, you’d be a fool to mess with this class act.
Bert Kountryman is rolling the ball through his own legs and then falling over while Lorenzo is randomly hitting free kicks into the crowd. Rangers looking good then.
So it’s kick-off. 1:0 and we’re up on our feet. A few cuddles, sit back down and it’s 2:0 and we’re up on our feet. This is the life. Shake a few hands, small huddle, sit back down and it’s 3:0 and we’re up on our feet.
After the third, Rico can’t resist it. “Smile boys”, he shouts, but as you can imagine, none of the Huns could force a smile for the camera. The picture he took was actually really bright, but strangely the Forcess of Darkness descended over the film at this point.
Half time, then 4, 5 and 6.
Scotland’s classy midfielder loses the plot. Come to think of it, he could have started a riot, but I don’t recall the press or the Weatherman making a big deal of that. For Bazza it’s straight down the pub. He’ll slip on his Sunday shell suit, tool up with some belts and go looking for a peaceful pint.
Meanwhile Rico has snapped Satan’s disciples heading for the exits after goal number 5. Strathclyde’s Finest are now taking a keen interest in the camera following complaints from a big guy wearing a Holland top, who was overheard to say’ “Ah’m no’ lettin’ this happen when ah’m the officer in charge!”
Some of the stewards are now having to look away as the uncontrollable urge to piss themselves laughing becomes hard to resist.
Things begin to look as if they might turn ugly as Michael Mols’ party heads for the exit. Sean Connery is nowhere to be seen and you can bet your last thin dime (copyright Fergus McCann 19%) that Miss Moneypenny will be hiding in a cupboard until 007’s anger has subsided.
Of course, by the time he gets home he might be a Celtic fan again.
It’s full time. We turn to our left and, as Elvis might say, “There’s emptiness all around.”
Bert Kountryman is still wandering around the edge of the 18 yard box at the Jock Stein End looking for Henrik Larsson …
Bazza and his mates are getting steaming and getting steamed in …
Andy Mcinnes of the Daily Express is removing his Rangers tie and furiously thumping hiskeyboard, and that’s a fact …
And all over Glasgow and the West of Scotland Celtic fans are being attacked in pubs, making their way home warily and being jumped …
Just another Saturday.