18th November 1964 Barcelona 3 Celtic 1
Celtic were drawn against Leixoes of Portugal in the first round of the Fairs Cities Cup in season 1963/64, a team few supporters had heard of. In fact, the city lies just north of the mouth of the river Douro, not far from Porto. Celtic found them tricky opponents in the first leg – drawing 1-1 – before giving a better performance in the second leg at Parkhead, winning 3-0 to go through 4-1 on aggregate.
When the draw for the second round was made, the Hoops fans were delighted when their side was drawn against Barcelona, even then one of the big names in European football. The first leg took place in the Nou Camp on this day in 1964, with 25,000 watching. Celtic went into the game in defensive mode; they had Ian Young and Tommy Gemmell at full-back but they were also alongside Billy McNeill, Jim Kennedy, John Clark and John Cushley; that left Bobby Murdoch to be a sort of roving midfield player while Jimmy Johnstone, Stevie Chalmers and John Hughes were up front.
In goal was a newcomer. Well, certainly a newcomer to the Celtic first team but Ronnie Simpson was, by that time, a very experienced keeper, with spells at Queen’s Park, Third Lanark, Newcastle and Hibs.
Barca took the lead in 12 minutes through centre-forward Zaldua, then got a second in 22 minutes thanks to inside-left Seminario and held that lead till half-time. Unfortunately, just before half-time, John Clark received a severe injury to his thigh, which meant, in the days before substitutions, that he limped on the left wing for the whole of the second half. That made Celtic’s chances even slimmer and although John Hughes gave the fans hope with a goal in 55 minutes, Barcelona held out comfortably, getting a third goal five minutes from time.