Barcelona: Jordi Alba nipped in to score with almost the last kick of the match as Barcelona snatched a 2-1 comeback win at home to Celtic on Tuesday that put the favourites clear at the top of Champions League Group G. Celtic had never won in Spain in 12 previous attempts but gave Barca a mighty scare when they took a shock 18th-minute lead at the Nou Camp through Giorgos Samaras.
Barca dominated possession but were struggling to penetrate the massed Celtic ranks until Andres Iniesta combined with Xavi and squeezed a shot just inside Fraser Forster's post moments before halftime. The home side pressed as Celtic tired in the second half and after Forster twice denied Lionel Messi and David Villa hit the frame of the goal, fullback Alba popped up at the far post in the 94th minute to deflect Adriano's cross over the line.
It was a bitter blow for Celtic and their vocal travelling support high up in the stands, although they remain second in the group on four points, five behind Barca and one ahead of Spartak Moscow, who won 2-1 at home to Benfica. "It's gut-wrenching and everyone's devastated really," Forster told Sky Sports. "We were so unlucky, we defended so well all night. We deserved a point."
Barca have made something of a habit of scoring late winners this season and with a depleted defence can now afford to rotate their squad for their remaining three fixtures in Europe's elite club competition. With Carles Puyol and Gerard Pique injured, Barca coach Tito Vilanova deployed 21-year-old Marc Bartra at centre back, only his third appearance in the competition, while Alex Song replaced the suspended Sergio Busquets in midfield.
Celtic were immediately on the back foot and Iniesta sent Alexis Sanchez clear in the second minute but the Chilean skewed his shot narrowly wide with only Forster to beat. The Englishman then produced a fine save to keep out Bartra's header but it was the visitors who grabbed a surprise lead through Samaras, who went off injured shortly before halftime after twisting his ankle.
The Greek leaped to head an inswinging free kick towards goal and the ball deflected off Javier Mascherano and spun past Victor Valdes into the net. Iniesta's equaliser was the result of a mesmerising exchange of passes between the Spain playmaker, Messi and Xavi, with Iniesta somehow finding the space in a crowd of defenders to get his shot away.
After Forster twice denied Messi what seemed certain goals, one a close range effort and the other a looping header, Barca's search for a winner seemed to have failed when substitute Villa crashed a shot off the post in the 90th minute. However, there was still time for the Alba late show and he timed his run perfectly to meet Adriano's curling cross from the right and break Celtic hearts.