Celtic first faced Milan on a late season tour of North America, drawing 1-1 in Jersey before winning 2-0 in Toronto. The Italians would be more than compensated 10 months later when they recorded a 0-1 win at Celtic Park in the quarter final of the European Cup after a 0-0 draw in the San Siro. Milan would go on to win the Cup that season.
It would be a quarter of a century before the teams met again in the Champions League group stage, 2004. A late Stanislav Varga equaliser was not enough as Milan hit twice in the final moments of the game. The teams drew 0-0 at Celtic Park a few weeks later. Milan contrived to lose a three goal lead in the final to finish runners up to Liverpool that season.
Celtic’s first venture into the Champions League knockout stage was against Milan. Another 0-0 draw at Celtic Park was followed by 90 minutes of stalemate, where some legitimate Celtic penalty claims were denied, at the San Siro before Kaka scored in extra time. This time Milan made no mistake as they again faced Liverpool in the final.
The newly crowned European champions returned to Celtic Park in October 2007 when goals by Stephen McManus (officially credited, although I’m not sure he touched the ball) and Scott McDonald were enough for Celtic to overcome a soft penalty awarded to the visitors. Celtic lost the corresponding game in Milan 1-0.
If the history of these games is anything to go by we should be careful in and around the penalty area. Italian teams tend to do well out of penalty exchanges in the Champions League – Milan benefited from an outrageous decision in Amsterdam this season.
Celtic go into the game bottom of the group, with everything to gain and nothing to lose. They are more than equal to the task.
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