Barcelona failed to put in a good performance at Celtic Park once again, but they were able to leave with a much better result than last season. While Celtic defended just as well as they did in last year's meeting, they lacked the same attacking punch and picked up a red card in the second half, helping the Blaugrana to a 1-0 win.
Lionel Messi's absence was felt strongly, even though Barcelona managed a victory. Even with the rest of their key attackers healthy, the Blaugrana's attack was seriously lacking throughout the game.
The first half was an outrageously dull affair, with neither team creating anything. Victor Valdes had to make a stop on a weak shot by Giorgios Samaras in the 5th minute, and there would not be another shot on target for the rest of the period. Barcelona had no problem keeping 80 percent possession, but couldn't muster so much as a respectable half-chance.
That trend continued into the second half until Scott Brown made a poor decision that turned the game around. In the 59th minute, he took down Neymar from behind and was probably set to pick up a yellow card for his foul. Then, after the whistle, he kicked out at the Brazilian. The referee spotted it and showed him a straight red card.
Barcelona recorded their first shot on target in the 65th minute, when Marc Bartra struck from 25 yards, but Celtic would have the first good chances of the game. After making a pair of substitutions to solidify their midfield and freshen up their attack following Brown's sending off, Celtic nearly scored twice. Valdes made an excellent save on a volley by James Forrest in the 73rd minute and Charlie Mulgrew headed just inches wide on the ensuing corner.
Sadly for the home supporters, Celtic got a bit too aggressive with 10 men and paid for it in the 76th minute. On a counter, Barcelona sent the ball wide for Alexis Sanchez, who spotted a run by Cesc Fabregas. Adam Matthews had stepped up and was nowhere near the play, while Efe Ambrose failed to track Fabregas, who headed in Sanchez's cross to put Barcelona ahead.
Fraser Forster made three excellent saves in the final five minutes of the game to keep Celtic in the game, but down a man, they failed to put together a dangerous attack as Barcelona held on for all three points.
Celtic: Forster, Izaguirre, Ambrose, van Djik, Lustig (Forrest 70'), Samaras, Brown (red 59'), Mulgrew, Matthews, Commons (Pukki 86'), Stokes (Kayal 70')
Barcelona: Valdes, Adriano, Pique, Bartra, Alves, Busquets, Xavi, Iniesta (Song 89'), Neymar, Fabregas (Tello 78'), Pedro
Goals: Fabregas (76')