EUROPEAN CUP SEMI-FINAL SECOND LEG
DUKLA PRAGUE 0 CELTIC 0 (Celtic win 3-1 on aggregate).
SCOTLAND can beat the big drum, Celtic, in their first run in the European Cup today made football history in the Julisce stadium here where they held Dukla, to a goalless draw.
If one were to say that today’s match was in its way the nadir of football, that perhaps may be a rather harsh. Yet in many ways it must surely have been one of the poorest, most guileless matches yet played in the semi-final of this European Cup where the cream of Continental football meets.
In Glasgow, Dukla, for nearly an hour, had looked a talented, dangerous collection of technicians, cleverly led by their ringmaster, the wily but aging Masopust, a World Cup final player and European Footballer of the Year, 1962. That is, until they ran out of steam against the busy, non-stop Scots who, in their first leg, kept things open as they themselves went for goals. But now that Celtic pulled a steel curtain around themselves they reduced the Czechs to a baffled foe.
However much Dukla held the ball it did them no good since their midfield build-up was far too lateral and easily read by the Celtic defence as it threw a ring around its own penalty area.
Here was a tension of personalities; Masopust with his extensive reportoire and talent now fading against the youthful vigour and strength of Murdoch, and wise old Auld in midfield.
After half an hour Masopust lay wounded temporarily in midfield. In other days he would have shaken that knock off. But now he slowly became a spent force which left McNeill, Clark, Gemmell and others to master the Czech attack that tried every device to find a way through the curtain.
Strunc, Knebort, Nedorost and the rest were, in the end, like fish trying to escape the net. They failed. Celtic kept a hold of themselves; they were utterly disciplined and they spoiled and suffocated every Czech ploy.
The first quarter of an hour was critical. In that period Simpson was called upon to make his best save of the match when he tipped over a right-foot shot from Knebort. Soon Nedorost shot past the far post. Those were near things for Celtic, but having survived them their confidence grew minute by minute. This was reflected in the anxiety of Dukla when Nedorost a nd Zlocha had their names taken by the referee, Mr Deinst, who was in charge of the World Cup final last summer.
From half-time onwards it was only a question of Celtic standing up.
As the final minutes unwound, with Chalmers still chasing his heart out behind every long clearance and Lennox and Johnstone probing down the wings, it was little Johnstone who grew stronger and trickier with his deep, probing dribbles down the right. The Czech crowd was still sending up their salvoes of rockets. Whether that wass to keep their spirits up or to keep themselves warm I do not know. All I know is that Celtic are now in the final of Europe and have earned the congratulations of every Briton.
Celtic: Simpson, Craig, Gemmell, Murdoch, McNeill, Clark, Johnstone, Wallace, Chalmers, Auld, Lennox
Dukla Prague: Viktor, Cmarada, Novák, Táborský, Zlocha, Geleta, Štrunc, Pnebort, Masopust, Nedorost, Vacenovský
Referee: Guttfried Dienst (Switzerland)
Match Report by Geoffrey Green