CELTIC 0 BAYER LEVERKUSEN 4
WASTEFUL finishing, catastrophic defending and a nonsensical refereeing decision all combined to contribute to another miserable European night for Celtic at Parkhead this evening.
It all went so wrong after some moments of hope as the Bundeliga outfit stuck four behind Joe Hart who made several top-class saves to prevent the abysmal scoreline looking even more embarrassing.
It’s back to the drawing board for Ange Postecoglou who knows a victory over Aberdeen in the Premiership at Pittodrie on Sunday is now an absolute must.
As ever, the Hoops had no problem with possession football this evening, but they are still lacking in penetration. There was a procession of missed chances and the visiting keeper also made a few excellent stops to make it 94 minutes of frustration for the home side.
It was all over by the time Amine Adli raced through and battered a left-foot drive high into the net with virtually the last kick of the ball.
BLAMELESS…Joe Hart was a stand-out in a team that failed yet again on the big stage.
By that stage, Hart had already had to fish the ball out of the back of his net on three previous occasions, courtesy of two first-half efforts from Piero Hincapie and Florian Wirtz and then Lucas Aralio tucked away the third following a crazy spot-kick decision from Italian referee Marco Di Bello.
This season is turning out into a scenario where you find yourself watching your worst nightmare in slow motion. If it can go wrong then it most assuredly will.
Two diabolical blunders by David Turnbull and Anthony Ralston presented the Bundesliga outfit with a two-goal first-half advantage.
The visitors, looking sleek and dangerous, didn’t need a helping hand against the Hoops, but they were given a couple to leave Posecoglou’s team with a mountain to climb.
In the 25th minute, Turnbull switched off to gift the Germans the opening goal after a fairly breathtaking opening period where both sides created and missed chances.
OFF NIGHT…dozy David Turnbull gifted the Germans the opening goal.
However, the midfielder dithered over a simple clearance on the bye-line, got caught in two minds and that was enough to allow Mitchel Bakker to take possession and set up Hincapie who stroked it goalwards with the blameless Hart caught at his near post.
The ball took a nick off Adam Montgomery on its way into the net, but the blame most certainly lay with Turnbull who looked crestfallen as he lay on the turf.
It didn’t get much better for the home side 10 minutes later when Ralston inexplicably gave away possession in the middle of the park which led to a swift counter-attack.
The defender’s howler was punished when Paulinho broke on the left, swept over a low ball and Wirtz, played onside by Carl Starfelt, gratefully accepted the pass to thump the ball beyond the stretching Hart.
Two horrendous and unforced errors left Celtic facing a massive challenge to get back into the contest.
The match took off at a ferocious tempo and Hart made a decent save in the opening seconds and then Lucas Alario netted from close range, but that was ruled out for offside.
OFF TARGET…comeback striker Kyogo Furushashi blew a couple of chances.
While the fans were still trying to catch their breath, Kyogo almost opened the scoring when he tried to take the ball round keeper Lukas Hradecky. The netminder got a touch and Jonathan Tah completed the clearance just when it looked as though the comeback striker must score.
Callum McGregor then flashed one over the bar and Tom Rogic did likewise as the Hoops tried to gain the upper hand.
Kyogo should have scored when he went sent racing clear on a neat pass from Liel Abada, but his shot clipped the keeper and went past. He should have lifted his final effort and enjoyed a better chance of success. It was his first game this month, so he should be cut a little slack.
Moments later, the Finnish international No.1 got down smartish to his right to push away a low netbound effort from Starfelt.
Hart was then brought in to action to block an angled effort from Moussa Diaby.
And only 43 seconds after the turnaround, Hradecky thwarted Kyogo when he stretched to his right to push a shot round his right-hand post.
The Germans breathed a sigh of relief shortly afterwards when a shot from Filipe Jota was pushed away by the keeper into the path of Abada who walloped it past the post from eight yards. It should have been nestling in the net and the little Israeli winger knew it.
NO HIDING PLACE…Ange Postecoglou saw another four goals stuffed behind Joe Hart.
Turnbull was not having one of his best nights and that was highlighted again when he squandered a free-kick from a great position when he waywardly sent his shot wide of the target.
In the 57th minute it was all over after Hart had pushed away a shot from Jeremie Frimpong. It felt to Paulinho who fired in a first-timer that hit Cameron Carter-Vickers on the back and flipped onto the outside of his arm. Amazingly, the match official pointed to the penalty spot.
VAR had a look at the incident and agreed with their ropey ref. The US international was booked and Aralio sent Hart the wrong way.
Three minutes later, Jota had a header pushed away by the keeper and the rebound fell to the unmarked Kyogo smack in front of goal, but he wildly slashed it wide of the upright.
Celtic huffed and puffed, but it was all over. Postecoglou put on Nir Bitton and James McCarthy for Rogic and McGregor in the 66th minute and then sent on Giorgos Giakoumakis for his first start seven minutes later. The Greek frontman went on with Albian Ajeti as Kyogo and Turnbull were withdrawn.
In the fading moments, Adli was allowed to run through on Hart, who had just made two defiant saves from Patryk Schick and Diaby, to hit the fourth.
That took Celtic’s goals against column to eight in two games in the competition.
If only Postecoglou’s team were that clinical at the other end of the pitch.
TEAM: Hart; Ralston, Carter-Vickers, Starfelt, Montgomery; Turnbull (sub: Ajeti 73), McGregor (sub: McCarthy 66), Rogic (sub: Bitton 66); Abada, Kyogo (sub: Giakoumakis 73), Jota.