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CELTIC FC

RESULT THAT CHANGED THE COURSE OF CELTIC HISTORY: PART FIVE

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The defeat to Inverness Caledonian Thistle at Parkhead marked a dark moment in Celtic’s history, threatening to become one of the most humiliating results the club had ever faced.

In the aftermath of Celtic’s unexpected Scottish Cup exit, the fallout was palpable as fans and pundits alike tried to make sense of the shocking result. This marked a turning point for the club, prompting a period of reflection and analysis of the games leading up to the disastrous outcome.

In this CQN exclusive series, we delve into the events surrounding the Scottish Cup exit and explore the matches that preceded it. These critical moments paved the way for a significant transformation within Celtic, ushering in a new era for the club.

Below are edited extracts from ‘The Winds of Change’, a tribute book by Celtic author Alex Gordon, originally published by CQN in 2015. These excerpts shed light on the turbulent period and the subsequent changes that reshaped the club’s trajectory.

The UEFA Cup Second Round tie against Lyon took on a secondary importance just five days after Celtic’s resounding victory over Aberdeen, as the focus shifted to the devastating injury suffered by Henrik Larsson. Despite the loss to Lyon, the main concern was Larsson’s well-being after he sustained a severe broken left leg, ruling him out for the rest of the season.

Manager John Barnes made it clear that the result of the Lyon match paled in comparison to Larsson’s injury, emphasizing that Larsson’s health was the primary focus. The incident occurred in the 11th minute when Larsson attempted to tackle Serge Blanc, but he appeared to catch his studs in the turf, leading to significant pain and distress for the Swedish forward.

HENRIK’S SADNESS Henrik Larsson, the legendary striker for Celtic, challenges Serge Blanc of Lyon while screaming in agony at the bizarre incident that resulted in a broken leg.

The severity of Larsson’s injury was evident from the shocked expressions on the faces of both teammates and opponents. The atmosphere on the pitch fell silent for several minutes as everyone grasped the gravity of the situation.

Manager Barnes noted the immediate seriousness of the injury based on the reactions of those near Larsson. The full extent of the injury wasn’t disclosed to the players until after the game.

Paul Lambert, who witnessed the incident up close, described it as a “shocker” and expressed sympathy for Larsson, highlighting his contributions to the team over the years. He echoed the sentiments of everyone hoping for Larsson’s swift recovery.

Mark Burchill, who replaced Larsson on the pitch, expressed disbelief and sadness at the unfortunate turn of events. He acknowledged Larsson’s exceptional talent and emphasized the challenge of coping without him in the team.

Burchill found himself at the center of controversy during the match when he was brought down in the penalty box by Lyon’s goalkeeper, Gregory Coupet, in the first half. The incident sparked debate and raised questions about the referee’s decision-making.

Moments during conflict… Mark Burchill scores a goal for Lyon with lightning speed.

The Dutch referee, Rene Temmink, sparked disbelief among the traveling fans when he booked Burchill for diving instead of awarding a penalty. Burchill vehemently disagreed with the decision, asserting that he was through on goal and had been fouled by the goalkeeper. He expressed his astonishment at receiving a yellow card for what he believed was a clear penalty situation.

Manager Barnes, reacting to the incident and viewing TV replays that supported Burchill’s claim, sarcastically remarked that Burchill had apologized for getting kicked, falling, and subsequently being booked.

Despite Celtic’s valiant efforts, Lyon managed to score the only goal of the evening in the 63rd minute. Midfielder Vikash Dhorasoo provided the assist for Blanc, who struck a powerful left-footed shot past Jonathan Gould, leaving the goalkeeper helpless.

The match took a somber turn with Larsson, Celtic’s top scorer and talisman, suffering a serious injury. After undergoing surgery at Bon Secours hospital in Glasgow, it was revealed that Larsson had fractured both bones in his lower leg, adding to the disappointment of the defeat.

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