BYRON: Gladiator Celts conquer Roman empire

Seven years to the day Celtic beat Barcelona 2-1, and now, they have overcome Italian giants Lazio.

Scott Brown reckons that night in Rome, will go down in Celtic history, like any other European big gun.

Jock Stein, Billy McNeill, Martin O’Neill or anyone else for that matter has managed to win in Italy.

Until now.

Celtic match highlights as they face off against Lazio.

Rome wasn’t built in a day, but it took the hooped gladiators only 95 minutes to take the Eternal City tumbling down, with Forrest’s wonderful leveller and N’tcham’s injury-time dink.

Celts fans had a banner hailing the Pope’s XI but even the Holy Father wouldn’t give the Glasgow side a hope or a prayer when the draw was made against Lazio.

But two empathic last-gasp wins, have sent the Celts marching into the next round with only two games to spare. A first win in Italy for the Celts in 13 attempts.

Would Celtic have been happy to take a point? Probably. But Fraser Forster didn’t let that happen, Lazio knowing they have to win went hunting for a winner. Forster flung across the goal to divert a searing strike from Luis Alberto, and many more saves in the match stopped Lazio from getting three points.

The Celts were worried, sweating. Lennon took the call to remove Forrest, putting on a fifth defender, Moritz Bauer.

Then… the goal came. The French men Odsonne Edouard and Olivier Ntcham link up deep in injury-time. Who ultimately lifted a delightful dink into the back of the net.

Celtic had gone from being under the cosh to causing Rome colipase in a splendid fashion.

Neil Lennon hails his team as they storm to victory

There were a few scares, sure, but no one can claim that the victory from the Neil Lennon’s men wasn’t deserved.

Lennon said: “I am so happy and proud of the team.

“Not just winning the game but the way they played the game, the character, the bravery and above all else, real quality.

“It was a Titanic game again, a brilliant game to watch and it was a game we thoroughly deserved to win.

“To come here and play as good as that; this team keeps setting new boundaries. We have qualified after four games. That is unheard of for Celtic in Europe.

“It is an amazing night, not just for me, the players, the board and obviously the magnificent support we had in the stadium tonight.

“It is historic. It is a privilege for me to coach these players and work with my backroom staff who do an unbelievable job behind the scenes.

“We are in a good place at the minute. It is job done as far as qualifying for the new year.

“We have a lot of work to do domestically but it is an amazing night for the team and the club.”