A second-half goal from Lee Casciaro secured an historic 1-0 victory for Lincoln Red Imps against Scottish champions Celtic at the Victoria Stadium.
Casciaro’s goal, as well as a couple of heroic defensive blocks, saw the Red Imps deservedly beat a Celtic side for whom manager Brendan Rodgers endured a nightmare starts.
The ground was not quite full, but with a number of Celtic fans in the home ends, the atmosphere was still as good as expected given the reputation their fans hold.
The early stages of the game, as many expected, were dominated by Rodgers side, with Lincoln essentially playing a five-back formation adopted in the latter stages of the game vs Flora last week. The Red Imps were struggling to put together a spell of passing though, with Celtic’s midfield dominating with ease.
The first booking of the game though went to the Hoops, with defender Efe Ambrose shown an early card for stopping Lee Casciaro in Lincoln’s first promising attack. The first shot of the game belong to Celtic, but Ryan Christie’s tame effort rolled harmlessly wide after 10 minutes. A minor point of controversy saw Scott Brown react badly to a challenge, leading to the captain being booed by the home faithful for the rest of the match.
As the game went on though, the home side grew into it and started to venture forward more, while restricting the visitors chances at goal, which began to frustrate the away fans sitting in the home end next to us. It was the home side who registered the first shot on goal as well after half an hour; some exciting team play eventually led to Walker’s shot being saved with relative ease by Craig Gordon.
It got the fans excited, before Celtic had a goal disallowed as new signing Moussa Dembele was adjudged to foul Navas in the Lincoln goal as he headed in from a cross. The former Fulham striker, on his birthday, will have felt he was hard done by, but so would Lincoln had Celtic’s first attempt on target found the net.
The youngster looked promising though, and forced a save out of Navas with five minutes left in the half; the first major action the 38-year old Spaniard had dealt with, which said a lot about how Lincoln were coping in this game. That was to be the last meaningful action of the half, as both sides went in deservedly level.
Celtic started the second half the same as the first, albeit forcing a shot on target within two minutes, before the Red Imps shook the Scots. Casciaro broke free of the defence, and unlike last week his shot found the back of the net to send the home fans into delirium.
Celtic were shaken; Calderon curled one agonisingly wide of the top corner, before Walker forced a save from Gordon. However, they needed amazing defending minutes later to stop what looked a certain goal from Leigh Griffiths.
Ambrose, already on a booking, risked an early bath by taking out Casciaro when it seemed the defender was in full control of the ball. With the clock ticking to the 70 minute mark, Celtic looked no closer to an equaliser; the double sub of Stuart Armstrong and James Forrest had changed little either.
With 18 minutes to go, goalscorer Casciaro got the heroes applause he deserved, with George Cabrera coming on much like last week. Celtic also used the opportunity for a final sub; Ciftci replaced the promising Dembele, who in truth had little to work with in the second half.
Again those a heroic piece of defending kept the scores level; after a free kick hit the bar, Ryan Casciaro came in from nowhere to prevent what would have been an open goal opportunity for Nir Bitton.
Ciftci was next to have an attempt, his header though was met expertly by Navas who was determined to keep his clean sheet intact. Walker was the next player to be taken off, due to injury, with Anthony Bardon taking his place. The expecting peppering of the Lincoln goal in the closing stages was not coming; it was Lincoln who had a free kick high up the field in the 89th minute after a fine bit of skill from Calderon saw him taken out by Brown.
Four minutes added time was shown on the board, a decision understandably unpopular with the home faithful, as cries of “sacked in the morning” rang out loud, aimed no doubt at Rodgers. A late bit of time-management (or time-wasting depending on who you supported) saw Kenneth Chipolina replace Yeray.
The full time whistle blew soon after, confirming both the biggest win in Gibraltarian football history and arguably the worst result in Celtic’s history.