17th March 1976 Sachsenring Zwickau 1 Celtic 0
While Celtic have had some very good moments in European competition, there have also been the ‘off’ days, when the performance of the players was not to the liking of the management , the directors and the fans.
One can immediately bring to mind the 4-0 thrashing by M.T.K Budapest in the Cup Winners’ Cup in 1964 ( after winning 3-0 at Parkhead); the 5-1 humiliation at the hands of Neuchatel Xamax in 1991; the unexpected loss to Basel in 2002; or the disastrous night in Bratislava against Artmedia in 2005. However, on this day in 1976, Celtic suffered a loss in the quarter-finals of the Cup Winners’ Cup as surprising as any of these.
After putting out Valur of Iceland (9-0 on aggregate) and Boavista (3-1), Celtic were paired in the quarter-finals with a side that even dedicated football cognoscenti had hardly ever heard of, Sachsenring Zwickau from East Germany. The name, though, seemed to catch the attention of the Celtic fans, 46,000 of whom turned up on 3rd March 1976 for the first leg at Celtic Park. It was to prove a disappointing evening. Despite incessant attacks, Celtic scored only one goal ( Dalglish, 40 mins), missed a penalty ( Bobby Lennox) and then conceded a goal less than two minutes from the end.
On this day in 1976, 40,000 turned up at the Westsachenstadion in Zwickau for the return leg. Jock Stein had to make some late changes, with regulars Andy Lynch and Bobby Lennox both dropping out with injury. Within five minutes, Celtic were a goal down, midfielder Blank sending in a fierce shot from the edge of the penalty area which dipped over Peter Latchford’s head into the net. Celtic did miss some chances before half-time but that one goal was enough to put the East Germans into the semi-finals, where they would meet Anderlecht.