CELTIC 0 PSG 5
ON paper, it was a mismatch. Unfortunately, on the pitch, it proved to be the same. The world’s most-expensively assembled team at around £700million versus a side that cost in the £21.5million mark. Possibly, the outcome was inevitable.
Paris Saint-Germain dished out punishment in Paradise tonight as Celtic slumped to their worst-ever home result in European competition.
Last season, the Hoops started with the 7-0 hammering from Barcelona in the Nou Camp for the biggest hiding ever in Europe.
For the positively-minded, the team receovered to become Invincibles on the domestic scene on their way to an unbeaten clean sweep.
Tonight, though, Celtic’s play in the first-half was far too passive, there was little of the physicality expected and demanded from manager Brendan Rodgers and they were picked off at will by an excellent team that went in at the interval three goals ahead.
This quality outfit don’t need a helping hand, but they got one anyway from Italian referee Daniele Orsato, the same match official who gifted Barcelona a penalty-kick in their 2-0 win last year when Luis Suarez sneakily grabbed Emilio Izaguirre’s arm and pulled him into him. Down they went, the ref bought into the act of cheating and Lionel Messi netted the killer second.
On this occasion, the match official contrived to miss a blatant push by Dani Alvs into the back of Scotty Sinclair after he knocked a pass to Leigh Griffiths.
Everyone expected for the whistle to go, but it remained silent. Griffiths lost possession and two quick passes saw the ball released in front of Neymar, racing in from the left.
Anthony Ralston’s inexperience was exposed as the Brazilian sped onto the pass, Jozo Simunovic was slow to come across and the ball was lofted over the outrushing Craig Gordon for the opener in the 19th minute.
There was a brief moment of hope for the Hoops in the 22nd minute when a cute 35-yard free-kick from Griffiths was heading for the top left-hand corner of the net, but keeper Alphonse Areola flew acrobatically across his line to push the ball for a corner-kick.
The second goal in the 34th minute was simply shambolic defending. A cross from the right swept to the back post where Ralston lost Neymar.
He headed it across goal, Edvison Cavani had a fresh-air swipe smack in front of goal and the ball ran to Kylian Mbappe and, completely unmarked, he slammed the ball into the net.
Number three in the 40th minute came following a rush of blood to the head from Simunovic as a cross came in from the left.
The defender grabbed the arm of Cavani who didn’t take much persuasion to go crashing to the turf with the Italian whistler getting a clear view of the incident.
A penalty-kick for PSG, a yellow card for Simunovic and a goal for Cavani as he crashed a shot high into the net with Gordon going the wrong way.
To be fair, Celtic reacted after the break. Tom Rogic was introduced for Stuart Armstrong, who had toiled to make an impression. A few of his team-mates had been in the same first-half boat.
Paddy Roberts tried hard and PSG showed him a lot of respect by doubling up on him when he got the ball. Sinclair, on the other wing, will have better games this season.
In fact, the Englishman had the team’s best chance to get something after the interval with a smart run that took him past two challenges, but Areola blocked his shot at the near post and the opportunity was gone.
There was a moment of cheer for the home support in the 76th minute when Mikael Lustig’s favourite actor Neymar was booked for, yes, you’ve guessed, diving.
It looked like it would remain at 3-0 with only seven minutes to play which would have equalled Celtic’s worst home performance. PSG had already managed to feat and so, too, had Italian double-act Juventus and AC Milan.
However, Julian Draxler, a £35million substitute, bamboozled Sinclair outside the box, zipped over a cross from the right, Gordon got a slight touch, the ball flew through the legs of Ralston, clattered off the unfortunate Lustig at the back post and bounced into the net.
It was just one of those nights.
Two minutes later, Lustig’s poor clearance was seized upon and a left-wing cross was delivered to the back post.
Simunovic looked slow to react, but Cavani threw himself at the ball and somehow sent a header from a tight angle up and over the stranded Gordon.
Now all eye are on Anderlecht in Brussels in a fortnight’s time.
TEAM: Gordon; Ralston, Lustig, Simunovic, Tierney; Brown, Ntcham; Roberts (sub: Forrest 73), Armstrong (sub: Rogic 46), Sinclair; Griffiths (sub: Edouard 68).