Neymar instrumental as Barcelona expose Celtic’s limitations
Brazilian star hits a hat-trick as Scottish champions brushed aside
Barcelona’s Neymar celebrates scoring a hat-trick against Celtic at the Camp Nou. Photo: Gustau Nacarino/Reuters
Barcelona 6 Celtic 1
Celtic’s Champions League campaign ended in jolting fashion as Barcelona star Neymar scored a hat-trick in a 6-1 demolition at the Nou Camp.
It was the visitors’ heaviest defeat in Europe since they lost 5-0 away to Artmedia in 2005 and in truth it could have been a heavier defeat.
Celtic found themselves behind after only seven minutes when Barca defender Gerard Pique opened the scoring from close range.
Alexis Sanchez’s low drive was deflected by Parkhead stopper Efe Ambrose on to Forster’s legs but Pique was in the right place four yards out to knock the ball into the net.
Thereafter, Barca’s dominance was at times mesmeric as they moved the Celtic players around the pitch with ease.
In the 26th minute Pique almost got a second when Xavi’s deep free-kick from the right arrived at the back post but his shot from five yards was blocked by the foot of Ambrose.
But in the 40th minute Neymar skipped past Ambrose inside the box and cut the ball back for Pedro Rodriguez to steer it low past Forster from six yards.
On the stroke of half-time Alexis Sanchez cleverly dinked the ball over the Celtic defence for right-back Martin Montoya to set Neymar up for an easy third.
Barcelona, who needed a point to finish top of the section, were in scintillating form.
Charlie Mulgrew replaced Pukki for the start of the second half but within two minutes Neymar played a one-two with Xavi and slammed the ball high into the net from 16 yards.
Neymar got his hat-trick in the 57th minute when he took a pass from Adriano, put the ball through the legs of Ambrose and slipped the ball past Forster with Matthews unable to clear.
The Brazilian should have made it six when he evaded the Hoops defence with time and space to go round Forster but Pedro Rodriguez took the ball off his toes and blasted a shot off Van Dijk and over the bar.
Still Barca drove forward, relentlessly. Substitute Cristian Tello had replaced Alexis Sanchez and when his shot came off Van Dijk and wrong-footed Forster for the sixth, Celtic looked on the verge of total capitulation and only a block from Forster denied Neymar another goal.
Celtic got a little consolation when Georgios Samaras headed in a Mulgrew free-kick in the 87th minute.
BARCELONA: Pinto, Montoya, Mascherano, Pique, Adriano, Sergi Roberto, Busquets (Song 74), Xavi, Alexis (Tello 63), Neymar (Dongou 79), Pedro. Subs not used: Oier,Puyol,Iniesta,Jordi Alba. Booked: Sergi Roberto.
CELTIC: Forster, Lustig, Ambrose,van Dijk, Matthews (Stokes 82), Brown, Biton (Commons 70), Ledley, Boerrigter, Pukki (Mulgrew 47), Samaras. Subs not used: Zaluska, Balde, Atajic, Fisher. Booked: Brown,Matthews. Att: 85,000 Ref: Sergei Karasev (Russia).