Celtic 3 Man City 3: Heroic Hoops do Lisbon Lions proud
Celtic 3 Man City 3
It was supposed to be a mis-match of epic proportions in which Manchester City would stroll to an 11th successive victory under Pep Guardiola and inflict further Champions League humiliation on Celtic.
But 50 years to the day since Jock Stein's Lisbon Lions began their journey to the 1967 European Cup, Brendan Rodgers' Class of 2016 evoked the spirit of their glorious predecessors to produce an heroic performance which landed the first blow on City's sheen of invincibility.
A seismic 90 minutes, played in front of an awe-inspiring crowd, ended with the points shared in a 3-3 draw.
But what a draw. What a show of defiance from Celtic, two weeks after their 7-0 mauling at the hands of Barcelona. And what a display of fight and determination from City, who equalised three times to deny Rodgers' Bhoys a famous victory.
Moussa Dembele, signed for a £300,000 compensation fee from Fulham in the summer, was Celtic's two-goal hero, but Scott Brown, Scott Sinclair, Kolo Toure, Tom Rogic, Kieran Tierney and the rest were immense on a night when pride was restored for the Scottish champions.
Celtic have claimed some mighty scalps in the East End of Glasgow in the Champions League in recent seasons, with Manchester United, AC Milan and Barcelona all being overcome.
It has perhaps become something of a cliché that Celtic Park is a unique venue under the lights on a European night, but in an era when finances have left the Hoops unable to match the feats of the Lisbon Lions, the Scottish champions must utilise every tool at their disposal to defeat more powerful opponents.
And the old stadium rocked and shook with noise from before kick-off as the home fans did their bit to unsettle and unnerve Guardiola's players.
City, so imperious so far this season, allowed the atmosphere to get into their heads.
And Celtic's players, defending an unbeaten record on home turf in 2016, matched the intensity of their fans by tearing at City from the off.
Even Rodgers could not have wished for a better start.
Dembele, a hat-trick hero in the Old Firm rout of Rangers earlier this month, sent the stadium wild by diverting James Forrest's cross past goalkeeper Claudio Bravo.
It was the first time City had fallen behind under Guardiola, with his team taking the lead in each of their 10 successive victories so far this season.
Without the injured Kevin de Bruyne and with John Stones named only as a substitute, City still had experience and quality in every department, but Celtic were unfazed and Bravo was forced into a crucial save to deny former City defender Toure.
City equalised on 12 minutes when Fernandinho intercepted Aleksandar Kolarov's misdirected shot before beating Craig Gordon from 10 yards.
Celtic could have folded, but they fought back, urged on by further noise from the stands, and youngster Kieran Tierney saw his shot deflected into the net by Raheem Sterling on 20 minutes to restore the home side's lead.
The goal was made by Tom Rogic, however, with the midfielder cleverly picking out Tierney following a break.
City were under the cosh again and Fernandinho was making countless mistakes in possession, while Bravo once again looked an accident waiting to happen whenever a back pass headed in his direction.
Celtic's defensive game was not as impressive as their attacking efforts, though, and City were able to break through too often.
And unsurprisingly, City equalised again on 28 minutes when Sterling showed class and composure to beat Gordon after neat build-up play between David Silva and Sergio Aguero.
Celtic's tenacity in the first half was such that City only commanded 54 per cent of the possession in the opening 45 minutes - way down on their usual levels.
But how much would the early exertions affect Celtic's energy reserves in the second period, when City's superior quality would surely see them turn the screw?
The answer was swift and emphatic, with Dembele putting Celtic ahead for the third time less than 60 seconds into the second half.
Kolarov made a mess of Tierney's cross, allowing the ball to drop to the unmarked Dembele who still had plenty to do with his back to goal.
But the former Fulham youngster controlled, turned and lashed a volley past former Barca stopper Bravo to send Celtic Park into raptures once again.
City were having to fight for every ball in order to get back into the game, but Guardiola's players rose to the challenge.
Nolito forced a save from Gordon and Ilkay Gundogan did the same with a dangerous free-kick before Nolito made it 3-3, racing into the penalty area to convert the rebound after Gordon had denied Aguero.
City fought tooth and nail until the end with Fernando and Gundogan going close to winning it in the final 10 minutes.
But Celtic held firm for a point they deserved from an unforgettable game.
CELTIC: Gordon, Lustig, Toure, Sviatchenko, Tierney, Brown, Rogic (Armstrong, 57 mins), Bitton (Griffiths, 84 mins), Sinclair, Dembele, Forrest (Roberts, 81 mins). Unused subs: De Vries, Simunovic, Gamboa, McGregor.
Man City: Bravo, Zabaleta, Otamendi, Kolarov, Clichy (Stones, 73 mins), Sterling, Gundogan, Fernandinho, Silva, Nolito (Fernando, 76 mins), Aguero. Unused subs: Caballero, Sagna, Jesus Navas, Sane, Iheanacho.
Referee: Nicola Rizzoli (Bologna)
Man of the match: Moussa Dembele
Match rating: 9/10