CELTIC 0 VALENCIA 2
CELTIC need a miracle to salvage anything from the Europa League after a dreadful display against the Spaniards at Parkhead tonight.
They head to the Mestalla in seven days’ time in the hope of achieving something fairly remarkable – and on this showing no-one is holding their breath.
It was as sloppy a performance since Brendan Rodgers arrived two and a half years ago, 90 minutes laced with misplaced passes and little invention against clever opponents.
The first-half passed with Celtic a goal adrift and basically lost in a maze of mistakes, many of their own making.
There were too many wayward passes to make this comfortable viewing and the Spaniards were allowed to take control and dictate the pace of the game.
THANKS, FANS…Brendan Rodgers applauds the support at Parkhead.
The only goal of the opening 45 minutes highlighted the errors made by the home side that exposed them to a quick break. Callum McGregor was robbed of possession and the ball was moved swiftly to skipper Daniel Parego.
His pass forward was immaculately timed and, unfortunately, Emilio Izaguirre played Ruben Sobrino onside. He took off towards the Celtic goal as Dedryck Boyata and Jozo Simunovic struggled to get back.
Sobrino enticed Scott Bain from his line before rolling the ball into the path of the unmarked Daniel Cheryshev and he will never get an easier opportunity in his career. He merely touched the ball over the line and Celtic Park fell silent.
It was an awful goal to concede, but there was always risk of Valencia capitalising on some sloppy play from their opponents.
In the 18th minute, only a spectacular high flying save from Bain prevented the visitors opening the scoring.
BLOW No.1…Daniel Cheryshev knocks the ball in for the opening goal with the Hoops defence in disarray.
BLOW No.2…Ruben Sobrino gets in ahead of Emilio Izaguirre to leave Scott Bain helpless.
The Hoops back lot switched off again down the left when the Christian Piccini took a quick throw-in that was sent into the middle, there was a touch to carry it on deeper into the box and Daniel Wass was all on his own as he powered a header towards the keeper’s top left-hand corner.
Bain took off to paw the ball away for a corner, but, alas, his team-mates didn’t react to the wake-up call.
Jeremy Toljan, on the right, and Izaguirre, on the opposite flank, rarely got the opportunity to get into their opponents’ half as they were penned in.
Scott Sinclair tried hard to get things going on the left without any assistance from the Honduran, but it was proving to be too much of a task for the Englishman.
Bain caused a flutter with a slack clearance, but he came to skipper Scott Brown’s rescue in the 20th minute when he was swift to get to an off-target passback and managed to divert the ball to Boyata as a Valencia forward chased it down.
FALL GUY…James Forrest topples in the box, but the referee wasn’t impressed.
There was precious little cohesion from Brendan Rodgers’ side as they just were not allowed to pick up the rhythm of their natural game.
McGregor tried a long-range drive early on, but keeper Neto bundled it away at his left-hand post and James Forrest twice went down in dangerous positions as he drove forward, but on both occasions Romanian referee Ovidiu Hartgean was not impressed.
Four minutes after the turnaround, the Spaniards doubled their lead and it was all over bar the shouting.
McGregor, Brown and Toljan all had the opportunity to win the ball, but as they dithered a pass was worked to Cheryshev on the left.
One glance up told him Sobrino was in the clear, racing in behind Simunovic and in front of the unaware Izaguirre. The pass arrived on time and was knocked past the unprotected Bain from five yards.
Woeful defending all round from Celtic and punished brutally by ruthless visitors.
ANGUISH…Timothy Weah can’t hide his emotions as a shot flies over.
In the 58th minute, Rodgers decided he had to change things and he sent on Odsonne Edouard and Timothy Weah for Sinclair and Christie as he altered the shape of the team that had clearly lost its way.
Weah fired one over from the edge of the box shortly afterwards, but the game faded towards the Hoops’ second successive European defeat in Glasgow following on from the RB Salzburg loss in December.
Flaws were exposed and it was a night to forget for many. Izaguirre did very little in pushing the ball forward and seemed content to play it square and back all night when a bit more adventure was required. He was exploited time and again, but, to be fair to the Honduran, he was not the only Celt to put in a wretched showing.
Oliver Burke got precious little service, Forrest looked in the mood without delivering anything and McGregor chose tonight for possibly his worst performance of his 52 appearances for club and country in this campaign.
It’s now up to manager Rodgers to pick up this team and focus on collecting three Premiership points and avoiding the Kilmarnock banana skin at Rugby Park on Sunday.
TEAM: Bain; Toljan, Boyata, Simunovic, Izaguirre; Brown, McGregor; Forrest, Christie (sub: Edouard 58), Sinclair (sub: Weah 58); Burke.