Celtic’s Ten Greatest Last Minute Goals

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Tom Rogic’s last minute screamer at Kilmarnock was one of those moments for which football is renowned; a moment of pure, undiluted joy, a moment which takes the breath away for a second and makes you forget doing anything other than celebrating.

Celtic fans have enjoyed so many of these moments down through the years; in that, we’ve been very lucky, or perhaps we’re simply very good at fighting until the very last second of games.

These are ten of the best, and most important, of our last minute winners … some recent, some not so much.

But all of them, like this one, were special.

The Italian Job: Massimo Donati Seals Champions League Knockout Qualification Deep Into Injury Time At Celtic Park.


On Wednesday 28 November 2007, Shakhtar Donetsk came to Celtic Park in a Champions League qualifier that was to as tightly contested as any game that season. They were a highly technical, and tough to break down, team who’d given us a bit of a roasting in the Ukraine earlier in the series.

When they took the lead after just four minutes Gordon Strachan must have thought all the lessons we’d learned from that game had gone unheeded. Yet they hadn’t; Celtic rallied and played well for the remainder of the match.

We got the equaliser just before half time, courtesy of Jiri Jarosik, a player I always enjoyed and who I thought would have been a very steady performer in the Hoops. That night he paid back his transfer fee and then some with a nicely hit shot.

Deep into injury time, we were still chasing that elusive winner. Then Aiden McGeady whipped a lovely ball in and Massimo Donati, another of those players who promised much at Celtic Park but never quite got it together, hit a first time shot. It hit a Shakhtar defender on the way into the net, but there was not a soul inside Celtic Park who cared.

That win put us into the Knockout Phase of the competition for the second year straight, quite an achievement from Gordon Strachan, particularly as Martin O’Neill hadn’t been able to it once. It was one of those nights that made Celtic Park seem like an invincible football fortress; more than just the Ukrainian’s left there feeling they’d been done.

The thing that sealed that night in the memories of a lot of fans wasn’t even the goal and the automatic qualification; it was the incredible rendition of You’ll Never Walk Alone which followed the full time whistle. It still brings a tear to the eye.

“Make Mine A Double!” Two Goals From Macca Puts The Cherry On Our Centenary Celebrations As We Win The League And Cup.


Hampden finals, of which I’ve seen a few now, always evoke warm memories, but this one more than most. I remember nearly everything about that day, from the gob-smacking good weather to the dust of Hampden and right up to exactly how overwhelmed with joy we all were when the ball hit the back of the net for McAvennie’s second.

That day was special. That day was wondrous. That day made us all believe in miracles, as if we needed any further proof at the end of what had already been a special season full of memorable comebacks; more on that later, I assure you!

It was 14 May 1988, our centenary year, and we had already secured the league title. We went to Hampden full of confidence, with one of the best strikers in our clubs recent history, Frank McAvennie up front. He was on fire, and if there was someone likely to pop up for us and do the business that day it was him. We got what we expected.

But it wasn’t al plain sailing that day.

In fact, Kevin Gallagher, the grandson of the great Patsy Gallagher, actually gave Dundee Utd the lead early in the second half, and they were a side just as determined, and infused with feelings of destiny, as we were. They had contested the cup final, against St Mirren, the year before, and had the additional burden of having lost a final to us just a couple of years before that; they wanted revenge, and to balance the ledger.

Everything was going to plan for the Tannadice men; we were playing well but the crucial equaliser stubbornly refused to come.

Then, with 15 minutes left to go, it did. Anton Rogan, having of the games of his career, tore down the wing, crossed the ball perfectly and Macca headed it home. Cue bedlam on the stands as over 60,000 Celtic supporters went absolutely mad with joy.

The best was yet to come; with extra time looking an absolute certainty, Billy Stark hit a shot, it was blocked, and the deflection fell to the one man Dundee Utd’s players and manager would have dreaded such a break of the ball.

McAvennie didn’t miss.

Hampden erupted with a delight few can ever remember being bettered. This was what dreams were made of.

The lovely postscript to the incredible game and those delirious scenes was that someone, God knows who, thought it might be good for the Prime Minister to travel up from London to present the winners with the Scottish Cup.

And so it was that Thatcher made one of her daftest, and most ill-advised, forays to our great country. She was greeted with a sea of red cards, from Celtic and Dundee Utd fans alike, who let her know, in no uncertain terms, exactly what we thought of her and her appalling, destructive, social policies, which had wrought such havoc on the country.

Not even her presence could spoil the party though, and what a party it was.

“Oh Hampden, in the sun …”

Andy Walker Breaks Hearts In The Semi Final Comeback To End All Comebacks.


Before United in the final, before McAvennie wrote himself into our history, before those joyous scenes on that beautiful summer’s day, there was perhaps the best example of Celtic’s “shock and awe” ability to raise itself above the moment and fight to the final whistle.

Not only did we knock Hearts out of the Scottish Cup at the semi-final stage with Andy Walker’s injury time winner, but Mark McGhee’s equaliser that day came with around ninety seconds of normal time left; this was an incredible win, literally snatched from the jaws of defeat.

So unexpected, and shocking to Hearts, was this win that their players literally sat and cried on the Hampden turf at the end, reminiscent of those wonderful scenes from Love Street three years before when Albert Kidd sunk them and we won the title on the last day.

This one had to have hurt like a sonofabitch.

Which made it all the sweeter.

Hearts took the lead after 60 minutes, with a goal that ought not to have counted at all after McPherson virtually flattened Bonner to allow Whittaker to score. The next 30 minutes were to be frustrating, infuriating, but ultimately futile; no matter what we did, we couldn’t seem to break down the Hearts defence.

So what finally happened? Did they lose concentration, or were we simply too much for them? Only their players know that for sure, but as the game looked to be drawing to a close Henry “Drop the Ball” Smith (as he became known) came out to take a corner and did just that; the ball fell, Aitken hit it, it was blocked, and McGhee followed it up. It snaked through a forest of legs and suddenly the game had been turned on its head. We were level.

Hearts were still reeling from the shock of it when another Henry Smith disaster befell the Edinburgh men; under pressure from McGhee he again dropped the ball, and this time Andy Walker was on hand to put it into the net.

Celtic had secured the victory with literally the last kick of the ball, and my old man still talks about how my grandfather left with the score at 1-0, was almost out of Hampden when Celtic equalised, turned, thought about going back inside and decided not to bother. He was still standing there when another roar went up to announce the winner.

He wouldn’t have been the only one who missed both goals that day.

A lot of Hearts fans certainly wish they had.

Naka Steps Up With Seconds Left On The Clock To Stun Kilmarnock And Win Gordon Strachan’s Men The League.


I wrote about this one last week in my article on the best visits to Rugby Park, not knowing that Tom Rogic would give us a fresh memory on that score.

Nakamura’s free kick was one of the finest of his career; indeed, he regards it as his favourite Celtic goal. In the end, it wouldn’t have made a difference to the destination of the title had he not popped up that day – we had four games left to go and needed a mere point from them to be champions – but those who travelled to Ayrshire that day expecting a party weren’t to be denied it.

The Japanese genius started, and finished, the party on Sunday 22 April 2007. In the 24th minute of the game his corner found Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink, who headed the ball home and put Celtic 1-0 in the lead. Everything seemed to be going to plan.

Then after half time, Colin Nish nicked an equaliser and dampened the mood. The Celtic fans sang throughout, but the lustre went out of it as the day went on. It seemed, for a long time, as if the Troops in the Hoops would be left singing in defiance, and in anticipation of a title win the following week. Then we won a free-kick in injury time.

I don’t know how many times I’ve watched the video of this goal.

The distance and the angle were wrong, just plain wrong.

Even Naka couldn’t find the net from that angle, and he had scored scorchers from distance and delicate little chips and free kicks that belonged in a Best of Brazil video. A rival boss would later complain that giving Naka a free kick was like awarding Celtic a penalty, and after leaving Celtic Park he would prove his genius with the dead ball by putting a free kick through the windows of a moving bus and hitting a target on the other side, and another where he knocked a bride and groom clean off a wedding cake without damaging the thing ….

These feats would have seemed impossible but for that day.

He was on the right hand side of the penalty area, still a ways out. A defensive wall was lined up in front of him. Somehow, he got the ball up and over the wall, and it still had enough bend on it to beat the keeper all ends up, resting in the right hand side of the net, so that he didn’t even have a chance to move.

Gordon Strachan went tearing up the touchline.

Naka ran with his top swinging above his head. The Celtic fans went mental.

It was a miracle goal. It was sheer class. It was pure Nakamura.

Chris Sutton Silences A Rangers Support Prematurely Celebrating A Point At Celtic Park With A Goal That Sealed The Grand Slam.


When I wrote my article on the Ten Honest Mistakes I had a few on the list which I wasn’t able to use; one of them came on Sunday 8 May 2004, when Hugh Dallas chopped off a perfectly legitimate Stan Varga goal in the early moments of a match Rangers couldn’t afford to lose. The prize for them was little more than avoiding humiliation; we had played, and beaten them, four times that season and this was the Grand Slam game.

Thompson’s free kick was netted by Varga, but Dallas claimed to have spotted a Henrik Larsson “infringement” on Frank De Boer. He was just about the only person inside Celtic Park who had. That would have got us off to the most beautiful start imaginable and that day might well have turned into a rout. As nice as that would have been, I’m not unhappy with how things turned out.

Celtic were all over Rangers that day, simply all over them.

It was one of those days when they came with no faith in their ability to beat us at all, and basically played for a draw to salvage a little dignity. Their fans were so pleased to have staved off embarrassment they started celebrating a backs-to-the-wall performance where they’d barely crossed the halfway line with about ten minutes to go.

Talk about settling for what they could get!

Celtic fans could have settled for that too. We had murdered them 0-0 and everyone knew it, but our players were never going to be content with that.

Big Chris in particular liked nothing more than sticking it to them – on the day he signed he famously talked about how important it was for Celtic players to “put Rangers in their place” – and in the final minute he got his chance.

A long ball from Marshall found Sutton himself; he was in the middle of the pitch, and he directed the ball to the King of Kings … and then he ran.

The anticipation was wonderful. The partnership between those two was as good as we’ve ever seen in the Hoops. Larsson brought the ball down, turned, fed it through and Sutton was on it. He breezed past De Boer, planting him firmly on his backside, and although he was still outside the box he lobbed it high over Klos.

The Rangers fans, who a moment before had been celebrating mediocrity like a cup final win, fell silent and began to leave in droves. The Troops in the Hoops went wild. We had done it; history has come to know it as the Green and Whitewash.

Rangers Watch It All Slipping Away As Celtic Score Late To Take A Crucial Step Towards Sealing The Comeback Of 2008.


Wednesday 16 April 2008 was one of those nights that will never leave my memory.

Celtic needed a win about as much as we ever have; Rangers were reeling in their bid to secure the SPL title, and a race in which we’d looked out of it had come suddenly to life and we could see a fantastic opportunity opening up in front of us.

But in order to pull off the miracle, the comeback, we pretty much had to win every game. Walter Smith’s team had games in hand, and so pressure was everything. We needed to keep it on, and on that night we knew a victory would put us within a single point of the prize, and with another game against them looming it was vital to do it.

That night at Celtic Park haunts them even today. It was a storming occasion, and one that very nearly slipped away from us in spite of the finest goal I’ve ever seen scored in a Celtic – Rangers match, and I say that as a huge Larsson fan who considers his two chipped goals against Stefan Klos, the one in the league and the other at Hampden in a League Cup semi final, to have been the work of a truly masterful footballer at the height of his powers.

But Nakamura’s goal that night eclipses them both.

How many times have I watched the highlights of this one?

A hundred or more, I’m sure, and it never gets old.

Because that first goal was just so magnificent, that bending, swerving, 40 yard thing of beauty that no goalkeeper on Earth would have got near to and which, had it been scored in El Classico, would have been replayed endlessly for all eternity, and the second so unexpected and vital and crushing to their hopes that I can imagine that it replays in an endless loop in the nightmares of some of their fans even now, eight years after the fact.

Yet that match almost ended in heartache. Rangers had equalised through El Rat and then, in 70 minutes, Naka took the ball on the turn outside the box and rattled it towards the top corner. The Rangers keeper, McGregor, was beaten all ends up. Carlos Cueller, standing on the goal-line, leapt for it and palmed it away. Penalty, red card, game, set and match Celtic, right?

Wrong. Scott McDonald stepped up … and the keeper saved it.

That’s how it looked like it would stay as we headed into injury time. When I think of what happened next I always see it in slow motion, as I’m sure some of their fans and players do.

Celtic got a throw in on the left hand side. Mark Wilson took it, caught the lay-off and swept a high ball towards the penalty box. Samaras, with his back to goal, headed it down into the path of Gary Caldwell. He spotted Scott McDonald making a run, and hit a long pass in his direction. It was such a sweet ball, and McDonald glanced it across goal with his head. Jan Vennegoor was waiting on the edge of the box, and he headed it past Neil Alexander, who had come on for McGregor just six minutes after he’d saved the penalty.

Celtic Park erupted with joy. On the pitch, Rangers’ players, who knew even then that a title they’d had in their hands was slipping through their fingers, exploded with a different emotion. When the dust settled, Caldwell and Weir had been sent off for a punch-up and Ferguson should have considered himself lucky not to join them.

None of that mattered to the fans; it was a stonking end to a high tension night, and one that shattered the confidence of the men in blue.

Scott Mcdonald’s Late Goal Beats Milan On A Night When Celtic Park Rose As One To Hail The Australian Striker And Dida Tried For An Oscar.

Wednesday 7 April 2007 is another red letter day in the modern history of Celtic; it was the night we claimed the scalp of AC Milan in the Champions League, and the night when Dida, the Milan goalkeeper, made a late bid to win the Oscar for Best Actor in a Supporting Role. His moment was the one the Scottish media chose to focus on, but it did not detract from a wonderful Celtic performance and McDonald’s predatory pounce.

What made this game special, and this goal particularly important, was that AC Milan were the reigning European champions, and beating them was a moment of huge importance for us. The game itself was not a classic, but the result sent our stock on the continent absolutely soaring, and fired a warning to any club who came calling at Parkhead.

We had taken the lead on the hour mark, via a corner kick that McManus, our captain that night and for that season, stuck away. We hadn’t held the lead for longer than six minutes when Lee Naylor fouled Ambrosini in the box. Kaka, who went on to be the world’s most expensive player, netted from the penalty spot.

Celtic were never going to settle for a point, not at home in front of the best fans in the world, but the match was in injury time when a Caldwell shot was fumbled by Dida. It fell to the feet of Skippy, who popped it into the net, to unleash bedlam.

During the celebrations a fan ran onto the pitch, and in a moment of sheer farce he ran past the keeper and gave him a tap on the head.

That’s all it was; a tap, but had a car backfired in that same moment people would have sworn blind that the Milan goalie had been shot.

He fell to the ground, holding his head, and rolled around like a sniper victim.

It was a piece of pure theatre, to distract from his own mistake, but it ought never to have happened in the first place and gave the media their cue to write about something other than the result.

But history will barely remember that; all the record books will show is that we beat the Champions of Europe with a 90th minute goal. Happy days!

Murdo Macleod Scores A Scorcher From Outside The Box As Ten Men Win The League.


Aside from being the only goal on the list that isn’t a match winner, this is one of two goals on it that I never got to see for myself until later in life.

I was alive for this one, but way too young to remember it or to celebrate it as I did later last minute strikes, but for all that it’s part of the folklore I grew up with and which formed my life’s great love.

How could it not be?

A last minute goal, in a league decider with Rangers, when we only had ten men on the park?

Hell, what’s not to like?

The night was 21 May 1979. There has probably never been a Celtic – Rangers game so fraught with possibilities, both good and bad, or with so much at stake. The winner of this match would, quite literally, be champions. To call it massive doesn’t do it justice; this was everything you want from a derby match but deep down hope one will never be. The scars from such a night can wind up searing your soul; I am sure some of their fans still get sick at the thought of it.

All the more so, since they were 1-0 up at half time.

When Johnny Doyle was red-carded shortly after the break, for taking a kick at a prone McDonald, most Rangers fans were probably mentally (or literally) opening the champagne. But they reckoned without a Celtic team that simply refused to give in.

On 67 minutes, Roy Aitken equalised after a goal-mouth scramble. Eight minutes later, with just 15 left on the clock, Celtic Park was in delirium as George McCluskey put Celtic in front. Delirium lasted seconds; Rangers equalised whilst half the Celtic team was still trying to refocus. That was careless of them, but they didn’t let their heads go down.

With seven minutes to go we pressed forward, and McCluskey hit a cross into the box. The keeper came out and parried it away, but it hit Colin Jackson and wound up in the net. Celtic Park exploded in emotion, but it was a tense emotion, with no-one quite trusting that it was over.

With just a minute left on the clock, Murdo took the ball and from 35 yards ended all that in a split second. If there has ever been a greater outpouring of emotions; relief, joy, happiness, ecstasy, disbelief and despair, at Celtic Park I’ve never heard of it. Part of the ground was shell-shocked. Everyone else (the Good Guys) took from it a lifelong memory that no time will ever fade. Even those of us who weren’t there or even alive for it have that moment in our hearts.

“Ten men won the league …”

James Forrest Has His Finest Moment In A Celtic Shirt As We Over-Turn The Nightmare In Karagandy To Go Through To The Champions League Groups.


Man oh man, but this was a tense evening …

Most Celtic fans remember this as a hearts-in-the-mouths affair, against a team that had proved surprisingly decent in their home leg and came to Celtic Park knowing that if they could hold us to a one goal win, or even snatch a goal themselves, that they’d be in the Group Stages of the big competition instead of us.

It’s hard to overstate how desperate and dreadful Celtic had been in the first leg of this one; our performance that night was disjointed, lax, unfocussed and filled with stupid mistakes. I don’t think a lot of us held out much hope for the second leg.

That game took place on 28 August 2013, and it was characterised by a goal that came as late in the first half as James Forrest’s stunning winner did in the second. The 45 minutes had come, and gone, when Kris Commons hit a 25 yard scorcher to send us in at the break with the lead.

Just three minutes after the re-start, Samaras had levelled the tie. That set things up nicely, for a finish as stressful as any I’ve ever watched as a Celtic fan. We survived a shot that hit the post, one that was cleared off the line and we saw Anthony Stokes come awfully close and still there was no resolution. We had played well enough that extra time was something we didn’t exactly dread, but only the crazy brave would have wanted another 30 minutes of this.

The irony of ironies was that Celtic had been contemplating pulling Forrest off, in preparation for the added time. There was 91 minutes on the stadium clock. Then Stokes got the ball and weaved into the area. He turned the ball to Forrest and the kid hammered it home. It cracked off the crossbar on the way into the net, and Celtic Park was engulfed in happiness.

But also relief, and we can’t kid ourselves otherwise. That year saw us adopt the suicidal policy of actually weakening the squad before every European tie started, and we very nearly paid the penalty for doing so by getting knocked out before the Groups.

The story wasn’t to have a happy ending; the Groups themselves were a bloody nightmare, and even a disaster, as the policy came back to bite us on the arse.

But for that night, and that shining moment, a guy called James Forrest was the Prince of Parkhead!

I can’t not be happy about that!

There’s Only One King Billy, That’s McNeil: Vojvodina Come To Celtic Park And A Last Minute Winner Sends Us To The Semi’s On The Way To Lisbon.


There has never been a more important last minute goal in the history of our football club than the one Billy McNeil scored on 8 March 1967.

There will probably never be one.

That night, it was all on the line. History, legend, immortality, myth.

It was the goal that sent us to the European Cup Semi Final.

Zurich and Nantes had been dispatched on the way to that evening, and those games had been easy compared to what we found in Yugoslavia when we went over there for the first leg of this tie; it was the only game in the competition that we lost on the way to our destiny in Lisbon.

Still smarting from that 1-0 defeat the team knew what they had to do.

By all accounts, the first hour was a pretty even one. They gave everything they’d shown in their home tie and we fought hard to keep ourselves in it, and break them down. Then, the dam burst. Steve Chalmers nicked an equaliser and the complexion of the tie had changed dramatically. Now they had to decide whether to attack us or sit back. Whether to try for the winner or hang on for what, then, would have been a play-off match in Rotterdam.

We had no such dilemmas. We knew it was risk everything, or get nothing. We pushed forward, determined to win it in the ninety and send them home sick.

What happened in the last minute of that tie can best be summed up by the words of Big Jock himself, who gave the Celtic fans all the credit for the win.

“I do not believe too much can be said about the way in which our supporters encouraged the players and helped them regain confidence for the renewed effort in the second half to break down the Yugoslavs´ strong, efficient defence. The players went out for the second half believing that they could win this match let alone the tie, and they were further confident when they heard the crowd willing them to victory.”

With one minute to go, Celtic won a corner. Charlie Gallagher took it, and Billy McNeil, the captain, the leader on the park, the inspiration, the legend, rose to header it home. It was majestic, an almost regal finish, a moment of pure joy nearly fifty years later.

It’s the only goal on this list that I wasn’t even alive to have seen, but I regard it all the more because of that fact. Because that goal was everything that followed, the stuff that I was born into, have grown up with and which will be with me until the day I day.

That goal was pure Celtic.

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