Celtic hold Man City in six-goal thriller
Football sets aside its troubles for a night of Champions League tension and drama
Celtic 3 Manchester City 3
Football needed a return of the feel-good factor after a week of scandal, and it came in spades in a six-goal thriller at Celtic Park.
The result, coupled with Barcelona's win over Borussia Monchengladbach in Germany, leaves City two points behind the Spaniards in their Champions League group and makes their clash on October 19 all the more mouth-watering.
Given that Celtic were humiliated 7-0 when they went to the Camp Nou a fortnight ago, the smart money was on Pep Guardiola's side to make short work of the Scottish champions.
But in an electric atmosphere Celtic restored pride to their name with a display of spirit and skill. "It was a magnificent performance," said manager Brendan Rodgers. "We have players that are developing and evolving all the time...tonight, how they played and performed, was top class. That will give them confidence going forward."
Nonetheless, Rodgers will want to know how it was that three times Celtic took the lead and three times they allowed City to equalise.
Their first goal came after just three minutes when Erik Sviatchenko's header from a free-kick flicked off Moussa Dembele, who looked marginally offside inside the six-yard box. It was the first time City had been behind this season.
Eight minutes later Fernandinho equalised for the visitors with a left-footed drive past Craig Gordon, but parity proved short-lived when City's Raheem Sterling deflected Kieran Tierney's shot into his own net. Sterling's response was to score at the other end, the England frontman running on to David Silva's pass and applying a cool finish.
Two apiece was how the first half finished, but two minutes after the break Celtic took the lead for the third time. Again City's defence looked flat-footed as Tierney's cross found Dembele, who had all the time in the world to control the ball and then hook it past Claudio Bravo.
But City came back once more with Gordon only able to parry Sergio Aguero's fierce shot on 55 minutes, allowing Nolito the opportunity to pounce on the loose ball and make it 3-3. City dominated the final half-hour but Celtic held on for a well-deserved draw.
The result ends City's ten-game winning streak under Pep Guardiola, and the City manager told reporters his players will have learned something from their trip to Celtic Park. "Here, prestigious teams in Europe find it difficult to win," he explained. "It will maybe be a good lesson for our future how important it is to start well."
But Guardiola wasn't too despondent at the outcome. "It was a fantastic game for the spectators," he said. "We scored three goals away but we didn't win. The team gave an amazing effort to recover that situation,
"It wasn't easy here in this stadium where in the last 24 games at home they've lost just three... but talking about the performance, the guys how they fight, it doesn't matter the mistakes, they tried until the end to win the game."