CELTIC 0 RB LEIPZIG 2
IF the Champions League is a learning curve for Celtic, this latest performance will have pushed them towards being one of the most educated teams in Europe.
A second home game in the elite competition and a second defeat with another two goals conceded to take the tally to five without a solitary goal scored. The Champions League adventure is already over with two games still to play.
Ange Postecoglou had every right to look disappointed at the end. This was an opportunity lost and he knew it.
Once again, his team lacked the killer touch, a clinical edge that would bring dividends for outfield play.
ANGE’S ANGUISH…boss Ange Postecoglou is disappointed after another Celtic miss.
Tonight, though, his team were often sloppy in possession, the ball was surrendered too easily and, unfortunately, too many players just didn’t turn up. Reo Hatate had his most disappointing 65 minutes in a green and white shirt since he arrived on these shores.
Kyogo Furuhashi worked tirelessly as usual, but he didn’t work the keeper and blew a great chance at 0-0.
Daizen Maeda, like his countrymen, gave his all, but very little is falling for the player at the moment.
Liel Abada was shaping to have a good game before he limped off three minutes from the interval and then it was all over when Timo Werner headed in the opener in the 75th minute and Joe Hart, who had made a succession of excellent saves, was required to pick the ball out of his net again when Emil Forsberg knocked in the second six minutes from time.
And yet it could have been so very different.
The Hoops went in at the interval wondering what they had to do to get an even break in this competition.
OH, NO…Kyogo Furuhashi holds his head in despair after failing to hit the target.
Within seconds in the opening half, Matt O’Riley hit the post, Greg Taylor knocked the rebound onto the crossbar and then Maeda headed past the post.
The pacy Japanese frontman, in fact, should have opened the scoring inside the first minute, but somehow managed to misdirect a header wide of the right-hand post after being set up by a superb cross from Abada.
Kyogo also missed a wonderful opportunity when he was picked out by Sead Haksabanovic, but he waywardly nodded the ball over the bar from the penalty spot.
Just to cap a miserable first-half, Abada was forced to limp off after twisting his left knee following a robust but fair challenge from left-back David Raum.
The Israeli winger, who looked egaer to impress, was withdrawn in the 42nd minute to be replaced by evergreen James Forrest.
Abada headed straight up the tunnel and joined skipper Callum McGregor and dangerman Filipe Jota on the sidelines.
It was not all Celtic, though, on an evening when the visitors kept possession well and, as anticipated, showed real menace on the counter-attack and took their goals with no little skill.
BEST FOOT FORWARD…Joe Hart denies RB Leipzig’s Christopher Nkunku.
If it had not been for the reflexes of Hart just before half-time, the Hoops would have been trailing at the interval.
Hatate had been way off the pace since the kick-off and he was caught again as half-time loomed.
The ball was worked to Christopher Nkunku who flashed in a low drive that looked destined for the back of the net until the experienced keeper thrust out a right foot and diverted the ball for a corner-kick.
It would have been an absolute travesty if Postecoglou’s men had lost a goal at that point.
They had the better chances of the first-half although the Germans edged possession.
The Hoops were left bemused in the 27th minute after Haksabanovic and Abada worked a quick corner-kick on the right.
CAN’T WATCH…the frustration gets too much for Ange Postecoglou.
The ball was set up for O’Riley on the edge of the box and he took aim before firing a deliberate low drive to the keeper’s left.
The players and fans groaned in unison as the ball clattered off the base of the upright and spun in the direction of Taylor.
He hit it back immediately and the ball then smacked off the face of the crossbar and rebounded across the goalmouth where Maeda was lurking. Unfortunately, the winger had to go back to try to get his head to the ball and he was off target with his header.
And that had been the story in only 53 SECONDS when Maeda had been picked out by Abada. He had clear sight of goal, but screwed his effort past the keeper’s right-hand post.
Kyogo then squandered a glorious chance after Josip Juranovic and Haksabanovic had combined on the right. The Montenegro international sent in a peach of a ball and the fans’ favourite should have buried it.
Alas, his elevation was out and the ball sailed waywardly and harmlessly over the crossbar.
It all came back to haunt the Hoops after the turnaround. They were given a warning four minutes into the second period when the Germans carved out an opening for Willi Orban, but his drive was blocked by Hart.
HART STOPPER…RB Leipzig’s Willi Orban is denied by Joe Hart as Greg Taylor looks on.
Forrest, who looked lively after taking over from the injured Abada, set up one for Kyogo, but he scuffed his shot from the edge of the box and it was cleared.
In the 65th minute, Postecoglou made the expected changes when he took off Kyogo, Hatate and Haksabanovic and threw on Giorgos Giakoumakis, Aaron Mooy and David Turnbull.
Mooy then set up one for Maeda, but once again he lamentably failed to hit the target with a shot that went well wide.
Celtic gave away cheap possession time and time again and they were punished in the 75th minute when Andre Silva pulled a cross back from the left and Werner scored with a snap header.
Maeda and Kyogo had both passed up easier opportunities earlier in the game.
DOWN AND OUT…Joe Hart is helpless as Timo Werner’s header flashes into the net for the opening goal.
In the 79th minute, Forrest sent over an inviting cross to the back post, but Giakoumakis turned the ball wide from four yards. He had been tugged back, but he should still have put the ball in the net.
Moments later, the struggling Maeda was taken off and replaced by Alexandro Bernabei with 10 minutes to go.
Five minutes later Forsberg hit the second for the visitors and that was that.
Lesson learned. Again.
It’s all getting a bit monotonous.
TEAM: Hart; Juranovic, Carter-Vickers, Jenz, Taylor; O’Riley, Hatate (sub: Mooy 65), Haksabanovic (sub: Turnbull 65); Abada (sub: Forrest 42), Kyogo (sub: Giakoumakis 65), Maeda (sub: Bernabei 80).