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The Dirtiest Matches of All Time (Part Five)

Continuing the series looking back at some of the dirtiest football matches in the history of football.

For Part One please click here; Part Two please click here; Part Three please click here; and Part Four here). 

Celtic’s place on the roll call of football infamy had already been assured by their part in the Battle of Montevideo against Racing club of Argentine in the replay of the Intercontinental Cup final in 1967.

Seven years later, though, they became involved in another vicious encounter, this time in the European Cup semi-final in a match that became known as the ‘shame game”.

Their opponents were the Spanish side, Atlético Madrid, with the two teams battling it for the right to play Bayern Munich in the final.

Celtic, still boasting some of the players who had become the first British side to lift the European Cup, were at home in the first leg in Glasgow, and were the favourites against an Atlético side who were overshadowed by the exploits of their city rival, Real, at the time.

From the outset, Atlético’s tactics were clear. Secure a draw in Scotland and aim to win the tie on home soil back in Spain.

The tone was set from the start, with the first half littered with lunges, swipes, elbows and punches, many of them behind the back of the match officials. To begin with, most of the brutality came from the Spaniards, but Celtic soon began to respond in kind, and the level of aggression rose all across the pitch.

The referee handed out plenty of bookings to Atlético players n the first-half, including to their goalkeeper, but, by some miracle, the match reached half-time with it still eleven a side.

That followed soon after half-time, when Ruben Ayala was sent off in the 55th minute, and a minute later, Argentine defender Ruben Diaz also received his marching orders for an assault on Celtic winger, Jimmy Johnstone.

Years later, reflecting on the incident which cost him his pace in the final, Diaz admitted that his actions that night merited far more than a red card and that he should have been locked up in jail.

That was not the end of it though as Atlético received another red card in the 83rd minute, reducing them to eight men.

Despite their advantage, Celtic could not make it count and the game finished goalless.

The two sides were not finished. As they walked down the tunnel after the match, Johnstone was punched and  brawl erupted, involving players, managers and staff, before order was finally restored by the police.

Atlético won the reverse fixture 2 – 0 but had so many suspended players for the final against Bayern that they were no match for the Germans.

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