In pictures: 20 years ago today Celtic advanced to the 2003 UEFA Cup semi-finals after a 2-0 victory against Liverpool at Anfield
20 years ago today, the Hoops beat Liverpool 2-0 at Anfield to complete a 3-1 aggregate success on the Road to Seville.
It’s 20 years to the day since Celtic recorded a famous victory over Liverpool at Anfield in the UEFA Cup quarter-finals.
Alan Thompson and John Hartson scored either side of half-time to secure a colossal 2-0 win and a safe passage through to the last four of the competition for Martin O’Neill’s side for the first time in almost 30 years.
Following a 1-1 first-leg draw in Scotland, the Hoops knew they needed to put a star-studded Reds team to the sword from the outset and they did just that in impression style in front of over 44,000 spectators.
After soaking up some early Liverpool pressure, Celtic grew into the contest with Thompson threatning as he fired over after intercepting a stray Deitmar Hamann pass. Henrik Larsson then forced home goalkeeper Jerzy Dudek into an acrobatic save from his long-range free-kick before nodding just over the crossbar from a Paul Lambert set piece.
Liverpool knew a goalless draw would be good enough to seal their progression, but as an entertaining opening 45 minutes drew to a close, Celtic broke the deadlock on the stroke of half-time when Thompson drilled a 25-yard free-kick low under the disjointed Liverpool wall and into the net.
Larsson found himself one-on-one with the goalkeeper after the break but Jamie Carragher’s sensational block prevented the Swede from adding a second. That was until the 81st minute when John Hartson was afforded acres of space to race into before unleashing a powerful strike from distance which sailed over Dudek into the net.
Following the referee’s full-time whistle, there was a sudden moment of realisation which set in for Celtic fans as they appreciated just how good their team were. They had returned to the European stage by producing a sensational result that left them within touching distance of a place in the final.
Reflecting on his match-winner, Hartson, who grew up supporting Liverpool, said: “That’s the most important goal of my life. This is an extra-special moment for me. You only produce strikes like that once or twice in your career.”
The night marked one of the greatest achievements in the glittering managerial career of O’Neill. Celtic had not made such emphatic strides across the continent since losing out to Inter Milan for a place in the 1974 Cup-Winners Cup Final.
LINE-UP: Rab Douglas, Johan Mjallby, Bobo Balde, Joos Valgaeren, Mohammed Sylla (Jamie Smith), Neil Lennon, Paul Lambert (Jackie McNamara), Stilian Petrov, Alan Thompson, Henrik Larsson, John Hartson. UNUSED: David Marshall (GK), Ulrik Laursen, Shaun Maloney, Steve Guppy, Stephen Crainey.