European Football: Collins sparks Celtic rapture: Brady revels in reversal

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The Independent Online
Celtic . . .3

Cologne. . .0

(Celtic win 3-2 on aggregate)

CELTIC'S followers supplied the sound and their players the fury as Cologne, armed with a 2-0 advantage from the first leg in Germany, were swept out of the Uefa Cup at Parkhead last night.

On the kind of epic European night their more pessimistic supporters feared had gone forever, John Collins completed a thrilling Celtic fightback 10 minutes from time with his team's third goal. High quality effort it was too, making the former Hibernian midfielder's omission from recent Scotland squads all the more mystifying.

That prompted furious retaliation by Cologne, in which Frank Greiner had what would have been a decisive away goal disallowed for a foul on goalkeeper Gordon Marshall. But Celtic survived, and as the disbelieving Germans trudged off, the crowd danced on the terraces and roared out a cacophonous, gloating 'cheerio'.

Such triumphalism had been inconveivable during the early stages, when Cologne's brisk counter-attacking threatened to undermine the home side's already fragile confidence. Liam Brady, the Celtic manager, conceded as much afterwards, saying: 'Prior to the first goal, we looked nervous and they were the better team, but goals change attitudes.' His opposite number, Jorg Berger, said: 'Celtic won because they fought to the end. They showed us what fighting is all about.'

The moment which restored Celtic's self-belief came in the 36th minutes. When Cologne failed to clear a corner from the left, the ball fell Paul McStay's way. From just inside the penalty area, Celtic's captain instantaneously volleyed it back past Bodo Illgner.

The decibel level promptly soared and Celtic responded by levelling the aggregate scores three minutes later. Collins, receiving on the left angle of the penalty area, unleashed a vicious rising drive which Gerry Creaney deflected into the net with Illgner rooted to his line.

Illgner, who has lost his place in the national team during Cologne's slide to the bottom of the Bundesliga, did not come under the expected pressure in the second half.

Once again, however, as the optimism was starting to subside, Collins struck, taking a throw-in from Tom Boyd and advancing past two attempted tackles. The path to goal suddenly opened and he placed his low shot beyond Illgner into the far corner of the net. The glow of wellbeing which enveloped Parkhead was such that the hero of the night could afford not to dispute Creaney's claim to the second goal. 'He's a forward,' Collins laughed. 'What do you expect?'

Celtic: Marshall; McNally, Boyd, Grant, Mowbray, Galloway, Slater (Miller, 55), McStay, Payton (Fulton, 88), Creaney, Collins.

Cologne: Illgner; Higl, Greiner, Baumann, Jensen, Rudy, Heldt, Steinmann (Fuchs, 53), Keuler (Littbarski, 58), Weiser, Ordenewitz.

Referee: G Goethals (Belgium).