International Champions Cup Report: Celtic 1 - 3 Barcelona

Sun, Jul 31 2016

A three goals to one scoreline saw Barca top Celtic in this pre-season encounter Credit: Michael P Ryan

Celtic suffered defeat in their second International Champions Cup match as Barcelona ran out 3-1 winners in the Aviva Stadium in Dublin, with all the goals coming in the first-half.


An excellent strike from Arda Turan opened the scoring but Leigh Griffiths pulled Celtic level after some calamitous defending from the La Liga side. However, parity only lasted 120 seconds before Efe Ambrose turned the ball into his own net to put Barca back in front. Luis Enrique's then side wrapped up the victory before half-time with a well-worked team goal finished off by Munir.


Celtic now have one point from two matches in the ICC, with one still to play – that being against Inter Milan in Thomand Park on August 13th. This was Barca's first ICC match and they started with a win, with games against Leicester City and Liverpool to come next month.


While glamour friendlies are all well and good, Brendan Rodgers' main priority coming into this game would have been to avoid injuries ahead of the second leg of Celtic's Champions League third qualifying round tie against Astana next week. The first-leg ended 1-1 in Kazakhstan on Wednesday, with Griffiths getting the all important away goal.


Last season's 40 goal top scorer across all competitions played from the beginning here, as did six others who started against Astana in midweek: Craig Gordon, Efe Ambrose, Eoghan O'Connell, Scott Brown, Callum McGregor and Patrick Roberts. Nir Bitton and Jamie Forrest both came off the bench in Astana and they also started in this game.


O'Connell was appearing in his first match on Irish soil since the premature end of his loan spell at SSE Airtricity League Premier Division side Cork City back in April. The Cork-born defender had a groin injury hence the Glasgow giants' decision to recall him. His last appearance was in the 7-0 EA Sports Cup win over Waterford United.


It was a player on loan at Celtic who had the game's first shot with barely 30 seconds on the clock. Patrick Roberts, on loan from Manchester City since January, seized upon a loose pass and drove at the Barcelona backline, curling wide of Jordi Massip's goal from outside the box.


Lionel Messi may have been the star of the show everybody wanted to see, with Barca also playing Luis Suarez from the start, but it was Roberts who illuminated the early exchanges. He beat Juan Camara on the byline and then demonstrated some quick feet to evade two more challenges before firing wide from distance again.


Barca were not to be outdone, though, and took the lead in the 11th minute. Aleix Vidal overlapped from right-back and was faced with the retreating Forrest. Vidal nonchalantly put the ball through Forrest's legs before teeing up Arda Turan on the edge of the box. The Turkish international's shot curled perfectly into the top corner.


Celtic didn't roll over after conceding and the Bhoys' next big chance came from more Catalan sloppiness as skipper Scott Brown caught centre-back Jeremy Mathieu in possession just outside his own penalty area. Brown drove forward and shot goalward, but it was too close to Massip who got down well to hold it.


Messi almost had his chance in the 27th minute when he was slipped in behind the Celtic defence, but right-back Saidy Janko read the danger and came across to outmuscle the Argentinian and clear. Barca continued to live dangerously at the back, though, and they paid the price in the 29th minute when Celtic equalised.


Camara played it back to his goalkeeper, who in turn committed the cardinal sin of playing it across his own six yard box to centre-back Jose Martinez. His touch was very heavy and Griffiths pounced to tap into the empty net. Bizarre stuff.


However, just two minutes later, Barca had regained their lead. Mathieu played a delicious through pass from deep which was dummied by Munir. It rolled right into the path of the onrushing Camara from left-back and his first time ball was turned home by Efe Ambrose, who was at full stretch.


Despite a spell of pressure which failed to yield a clearcut chance, it got worse for Celtic as they conceded a third just before the half-time interval. Camara played Suarez in behind and the Uruguayan striker cut the ball back through Ambrose's legs to the unmarked Munir on the edge of the six yard box for a simple tap-in.


There were a number of changes to both sides at half-time and throughout the second-half which greatly affected the momentum of the game. Messi's half-time substitution, in particular, came as a disappointment to those in the stadium.


Celtic sub 'keeper Leo Fason did well to stop a Denis Suarez shot in the 57th minute, while both Stuart Armstrong and Tom Rogic came close for the Bhoys after being introduced. Kristoffer Ajer had to be sharp four minutes from time to cut out a dangerous Carles Alena ball into the six yard box with Alex Carbonell lurking. In the end, it was a fair result.



Celtic: Craig Gordon (Leo Fasan HT); Saidy Janko (Anthony Ralston, 63), Efe Ambrose (Jamie McCart, 63), Eoghan O’Connell (Kristoffer Ajer, HT), Emilio Izaguirre (Darnell Fisher, 78); Patrick Roberts (Nadir Ciftci, HT), Scott Brown (Tom Rogic, HT), Nir Bitton (Scott Allan, HT), Callum McGregor (Stuart Armstrong, HT), Jamie Forrest (Ryan Christie, 63); Leigh Griffiths (Moussa Dembele, HT).


FC Barcelona: Jordi Massip (Josep Martinez, 77); Aleix Vidal, Jose Antonio Martinez (Borja Lopez, 77), Jeremy Mathieu (Marlon Santos, 61), Juan Camara (Francisco Perdomo, 77); Sergi Roberto (Carles Alena, 61); Denis Suarez (Rafa Mujica, 61), Arda Turan (Alex Carbonell, 61); Lionel Messi (Sergi Samper, HT), Luis Suarez (Jesus Alfaro, 61), Munir ((Gerard Gumbau, 77).

Subs not used: Jose Suarez (GK), Cristian Tello.


Referee: Neil Doyle.

Attendance: 47,900.

Extratime Man of the Match: Juan Camara (FC Barcelona).


You can see pictures from the game as taken by Peter Fitzpatrick, Martin Doherty, Larry McQuillan and Michael P Ryan here.