CELTIC will have to go into the unknown in Rome this evening if they are to virtually guarantee a place in the knock-out stages in the Europa League next year.
To do so though they’ll need to achieve something they’ve never managed before – win a European game in Italy.
The Hoops have played 12, lost nine and drawn three when on Italian soil.
Here is the record:
AC MILAN 0 CELTIC 0 (Feb 19 1969)
JOCK STEIN’S side were more than a match for Nero Rocco’s Italian champions in this European Cup quarter-final at the San Siro which was played in atrocious conditions following a blizzard before kick-off.
John Hughes had the Hoops’ best chance to score in the second-half as he waltzed through the Milan defence before firing in a thunderous shot that was punched away by keeper Carlo Cudicini.
John Fallon was rarely troubled although Kurt Hamrin hit a post. Unfortunately, Celtic failed to win the second leg at a packed Parkhead when left-winger Pierino Prati raced away in a solo raid to fire past the exposed Fallon. The Italians went on to win the second of seven European Cups.
FIORENTINA 1 CELTIC 0 (March 18, 1970)
CELTIC were 3-0 ahead after a convincing first leg in Glasgow, but they had to withstand an onslaught in Florence where Luciano Chiarugi netted in the first-half.
Billy McNeill and his defence responded by making certain the Italians received no more joy in front of their own fans.
Evan Williams made a few comfortable saves to make certain the team reached the semi-final where they beat the much-vaunted Leeds United 3-1 on aggregate. Alas, they lost 2-1 to Feyenoord in extra-time in the Final in Milan.
INTER MILAN 0 CELTIC 0 (April 5 1972)
CELTIC had conquered the same opponents 2-1 in the historic European Cup Final in success in Lisbon on May 25 in 1967, but this was a more cagey performance from Stein’s team.
It developed into a fairly dour midfield battle in front of a crowd of 85,000 with neither keeper being asked too many questions.
It was a similar situation in Glasgow where the game ended in another scoreless stalemate. The Hoops missed the chance of facing Ajax in the Final when Dixie Deans skied his effort over the bar in the penalty-kick shoot-out. Jimmy Johnstone, Jim Craig, Pat McCluskey and Bobby Murdoch scored with the attempts, but the Italians beat Evan Williams five time to go through where they lost 2-0 to the Amsterdam outfit.
JUVENTUS 2 CELTIC 0 (Sept 30 1981)
MURDO MacLEOD scored with a piledriver to give Billy McNeill’s team a 1-0 advantage from the first leg at Parkhead.
However, it wasn’t enough to guide the Scots into the next round against a team that contained the legendary Dino Zoff in goal and future Hoops manager Liam Brady in midfield.
Pietro Paolo Virdis levelled on aggregate and World Cup striker Roberto Bettega hit the winner against a valiant Pat Bonner who produced a string of excellent saves.
JUVENTUS 3 CELTIC 2 (Sept 18 2001)
A CONTROVERSIAL last-gasp penalty-kick had Martin O’Neill fuming in Turin as he watched his team go down in a Champions League encounter.
The Italians were leading 2-0 with goals from David Trezeguet, but the Parkhead men fought back to level through Stilian Petrov’s deflected free-kick and a Henrik Larsson penalty-kick.
In the fading moments, Nicola Amoruso took an obvious dive under no contact from Joos Valgaeren and then converted the spot-kick.
AC MILAN 3 CELTIC 1 (Sept 29 2004)
ANDRIY SHEVCHENKO struck in the early stages to give the lead to a star-studded San Siro line-up consisting of such world stars as Paolo Maldini, Andrea Pirlo, Kaka and Filippo Inzaghi.
O’Neill’s side equalised with a 74th-minute header from centre-half Stanislav Varga from a right-wing corner-kick.
It looked as though the Hoops had done enough to gain a draw, but two goals in the last two minutes from Inzaghi and Pirlo scuppered their hopes.
AC MILAN 1 CELTIC 0 (March 7 2007)
CELTIC’S first adventure in the Champions League knock-out stages ended in agony after two goalless 90 minutes home and away.
The tie in Milan went into extra-time where the visitors looked as though they had a valid claim for a penalty-kick when Didier Agathe was flattened by Maldini, but the referee astonishingly waved play on.
Brazilian ace Kaka got the only goal of the tie when he raced clear from the halfway line, tricked his way past Stephen McManus and fired beyond the stranded Artur Boruc.
AC MILAN 1 CELTIC 0 (Dec 4 2007)
GORDON STRACHAN took his Celtic side to Italy hoping to gain a place in the knock-out rounds for a second successive season.
It was that man Inzaghi, brother of Lazio boss Simone, who scored from a Cafu cross for a 1-0 win for the home outfit.
The Scots had played well, but took their eye off the prolific hitman who claimed his 63rd European goal from close range.
UDINESE 1 CELTIC 1 (Dec 15 2011)
NEIL LENNON’S Celtic needed a draw to get through and took the lead through Gary Hooper in the 30th minute.
Unfortunately, Antonio Di Natale scuppered their hopes when he snatched a leveller just before the break.
The Hoops plaed well on the night and Fraser Forster was imposing in goal, but they just could not get the required victory.
JUVENTUS 2 CELTIC 0 (March 6 2013)
CELTIC were already as good as out of Europe after losing 3-0 to the Italians in Glasgow where Efe Ambrose blundered twice to gift the visitors goals. Another late effort killed the tie as a contest.
Alessandro Matri opened the scoring before the half-hour mark and Fabio Quagliarella added to the Hoops’ misery after the interval.
Keeper Gigi Buffon’s only uncomfortable moment came from a deflected free-kick from Hooper.
AC MILAN 2 CELTIC 0 (Sept 18 2013)
THE Hoops held out until seven minutes from time when Emilio Izaguirre diverted a cross into his own net to break the deadlock.
Dame Fortune snarled again at the visitors in the fading moments when Fraser Forster failed to hold a Mario Balotelli free-kick and Sulley Muntari thumped in the second.
Lennon’s side finished bottom of a strong group which also contained Barcelona and Ajax.
INTER MILAN 1 CELTIC 0 (Feb 26 2015)
THE first leg of the Europa League encounter had finished 3-3 with on-loan Manchester City striker John Guidetti equalising with virtually the last kick in front of frenzied fans at Parkhead.
In the return, some preposterous refereeing saw Virgil van Dijk banished after two yellow cards after only 36 minutes.
Craig Gordon made some superb saves, but was helpless to prevent a powerful strike from Fredy Guarin flying high into the net in the closing stages.
* DON’T miss the unbeatable match report from Lazio v Celtic this evening – only in your champion CQN.