Celtic boss Gordon Strachan could not hide his disappointment after watching his side go down 3-2 at home to Barcelona.
“We had a specific plan and tried to attack Barcelona but, no matter what level you play at, the team who passes the ball better wins,” he acknowledged.
“There were a few mistakes that cost us, I think in tennis they call it unforced errors. In the end it’s disappointing to have scored two goals at home and not won the match. I think Barcelona have the best squad in the world, only time will tell if they are best team in the world. For us to have defeated them we would have needed nine or ten big performances, which didn’t happen for us.
“Many of the players who were out there tonight have very little experience at this level, but sometimes it’s a case of sink or swim. We wanted to make a game of it, we wanted to score, but we gave away too much at times.
“Tonight, we didn’t have enough players playing at their very best which is what you need to beat a team like Barcelona. I don’t want to pick on individual errors and I thought Gary Caldwell was excellent until his mistake let Thierry Henry in for their second goal. It would be very unfair if we were to pick on him because there was a lot worse in terms of him.
“We go out there and try to make a game of it and gain more experience to hopefully become a better team in the future. I wouldn’t bet my house on us beating Barcelona over there, though. We are really proud to have gotten to this stage. We’ll go there and have a good try. We scored two goals against one of the best teams in the game and we will go to Barcelona and try to score again.
The visitors twice overturned a deficit and assistant coach Johan Neeskens felt Barca deserved their win.
“I’m very happy with the how the players performed,” said Neeskens. “We started very well, but Celtic scored the goal against the run of play and showed how dangerous they can be. We had to show mental strength to recover from that and we managed to respond quickly and, over the course of the 90 minutes, I feel we controlled the match.
“It was always going to be a tough game for us after seeing some of Celtic’s results in the Champions League. It was important that we controlled the play. Although it was 2-1 at half-time, we were sure we could score again. We are very happy with this result against a very strong team.
“The philosophy of this club is to attack. Regardless of who we play against, whenever possible, we like to use three in attack and I think it was effective for us tonight. We are very happy with the result. It was a very good game and we managed to score three goals and, not only that, we also created some very good chances.
“We were also encouraged to see Samuel Eto’o make his return to the side. It was a great occasion and a great match. Our players responded well and we are very happy that 2,000 supporters came to Glasgow with us. I want to thank them all, on behalf of myself, the manager and all of the team.”