Wednesday, January 19

Celtic out of the Champions League after overtime loss to Midtjylland | Champions League


Celtic’s slow start to their summer transition proved costly as Midtjylland eliminated them from the Champions League playoffs.

Ange Postecoglou’s side again blew a lead by falling in a 2-1 loss after extra time in Denmark to lose 3-2 on aggregate and miss the group stage for the fourth year in a row.

Callum McGregor gave Celtic the lead with an impressive blow in the 48th minute, but Awer Mabil leveled at the hour mark just after James Forrest had missed a babysitter. Celtic had the best of most of the 90 minutes, but ran out of strength and offered little response to Raphael Nwadike’s blow early in extra time.

As Midtjylland advance to face PSV Eindhoven, Celtic will travel to the Czech Republic to face Jablonec in the Europa League third qualifying round next Thursday. Postecoglou, who was appointed on June 10, three and a half months after Neil Lennon’s departure, expressed frustration at the club’s doubts in the transfer market before the first leg and admitted that his team would never be so close again. badly prepared for a big game.

Although Celtic have made five signings this summer, two of them are still in quarantine and only 19-year-old winger Liel Abada participated in Denmark with former Sheffield Wednesday partner Liam Shaw and Osaze Urhoghide on the bench. The paucity of options at the rear highlighted the challenges Postecoglou faces. With Kristoffer Ajer recently retired, Carl Starfelt’s replacement in quarantine, Christopher Jullien still recovering from a serious knee injury and Nir Bitton suspended following his unnecessary red card in the first leg, Celtic had to rely on youth.

Stephen Welsh teamed up with 18-year-old Dane Murray in central defense, while Anthony Ralston continued as right-back and impressed with his forward play and two crucial blocks in the second half.
Greg Taylor, 23, was by far the most experienced of the four defenders, but the left-back lost his marker for the hosts’ tie. Postecoglou dropped Vasilis Barkas after the Greek goalkeeper gifted Midtjylland with Parkhead’s draw and handed the gloves to Scott Bain.

Celtic threatened twice early when a 25-yard shot from David Turnbull flipped before Odsonne Edouard volleyed a couple of yards over the bar from the midfielder’s corner. Edouard almost got another chance later in the half after great footwork and a clean pass from Ryan Christie, but the home keeper came out quickly to eliminate danger.

Raphael Nwadike celebrates the winning goal for Midtjylland
Raphael Nwadike celebrates the winner’s goal for Midtjylland. Photograph: Bo Amstrup / Ritzau Scanpix / AFP / Getty Images

Celtic generally controlled possession in the first half and the hosts only threatened a couple of set pieces. The visitors were in the lead early in the second half and the pressure paid off thanks to McGregor’s magical moment. Turnbull’s corner was half cleared and the captain lowered the ball with his chest and volleyed into the top corner from 25 yards.

Bain threw a low cross pass unpunished before Forrest fired wide from 14 yards after Turnbull set him up. Postecoglou barely had time to shake his head off his hands before Midtjylland tied. Mabil ran through Taylor and led a free header past Bain from 10 yards.

Forrest had only replaced the quiet Abada a minute before losing his chance and the winger seemed to have another shot with seven minutes to go after Christie’s brilliant first pass. But Brazilian defender Paulinho made up ground for a magnificent blocking.

Midtjylland finished the 90 minutes strong and had a glorious opportunity to win it in injury time when 18-year-old forward Victor Lind stepped between Celtic center-backs but launched a volley wide into space from 12 yards. Midtjylland took the lead four minutes into extra time. Turnbull was caught with a ball over his head after a blocked free throw and Nwadike had time to control Mads Hansen’s square ball before finishing high at the net from six yards.

Bain made good saves from Hansen and Lind to keep the score low, as Celtic’s hopes in the Champions League were prematurely ended again.


www.theguardian.com

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