Oct 1 (Reuters) - Cesc Fabregas's finely crafted late goal earned Barcelona a 1-0 win over 10-man Celtic although they clearly missed the mercurial talent of the injured Lionel Messi in their Group H Champions League game in Glasgow on Tuesday.
The Spanish champions, surprisingly beaten 2-1 in the corresponding match last season, created few chances despite dominating possession at an electric Parkhead stadium.
The only goal came after 76 minutes when Neymar, well policed by the disciplined Celtic defence, swept the ball out to substitute Alexis Sanchez on the right and his back-post cross was headed home by the unmarked Fabregas.
It was hard on Celtic, who by then were down to 10 men having had skipper Scott Brown dismissed just before the hour mark for catching Neymar in the back with his boot after the Brazilian went down in a challenge.
"Celtic are a great team who always demand the best from you," Fabregas told Spanish TV. "It was tough and we knew it was going to be tough. It was I think our best performance of the season and a very deserved victory."
Barcelona are top of Group H with six points from two games while Celtic are still looking for their first point.
Celtic manager Neil Lennon said before the match he felt a "tinge of sadness" that Messi's skills would not be on show and the visitors looked a little lost without their talisman.
"It's impossible not to miss Leo, that would be the same for any team," Barca coach Gerardo Martino told Spanish TV. "When we find ourselves in this situation we have to step up and play a good match and try to win and I think we did that tonight.
"We had the lion's share of the ball and we moved it well. We found it hard to create chances but that changed with Cesc's goal and we could have made it a much more comfortable victory."
It was an absorbing contest of artistry against industry but Celtic'a defence showed no fear against star-studded Barca.
Celtic's best chance came after the sending off, and three minutes before Barca scored, when a 20-metre James Forrest drive forced a superb diving save out of Victor Valdes before Charlie Mulgrew headed wide of an open goal from the resulting corner.
Near the end, as the gaps appeared in the Celtic defence, home keeper Fraser Forster produced three fine saves of his own to keep Barcelona at bay, the first a double effort as Neymar and then Alexis Sanchez had shots pushed away. (Writing by Tony Goodson in London; Editing by Ken Ferris)
- Sports & Recreation
- Cesc Fabregas
- Lionel Messi
- Alexis Sanchez