EXACTLY two years ago today, Ange Postecoglou stepped into the Celtic Park dug-out for the first time to take charge of the team in competitive action.

The Greek-Australian gaffer, appointed the previous month as Neil Lennon’s successor, watched his new side draw 1-1 with FC Midtjylland in the first leg of the Champions League qualifier.

Liel Abada, a £3.5million buy from Israeli top-flight club Maccabi Petah Tikva, marked his debut by thrashing the Hoops into the lead six minutes before the interval.

DEBUT DESPAIR…Ange Postecoglou cuts a frustrated figure during his Parkhead baptism.

Alas, his compatriot Nir Bitton was sent off moments later and Postecoglou was forced to sacrifice the exciting new Bhoy as he sent on rookie Dane Murray to play alongside Stephen Welsh in central defence.

The visitors were thrown a lifeline by £4.5million misfit Vasilis Barkas who blundered yet again to allow a free-kick from Brazilian midfielder Evander to elude his grap after the hour mark to gift the Danes an equaliser.

The Greek, who saw his contract scrapped last month after spending the season at FC Utrecht, was dumped for the second leg. Scott Bain came in as the Hoops lost 2-1 in extra-time.

Barkas is just one of FIVE players on show on July 20 2021 who have moved on since that evening in the east end of Glasgow while another two clearly have no future at the champions.

Bitton and Australian playmaker Tom Rogic left at the end of Postecoglou’s debut campaign while French striker Odsonne Edouard and Scotland international midfielder Ryan Christie shifted cross the border to Crystal Palace and Bournemouth respectively.

DOWN – AND OUT…£5million misfit striker Albian Ajeti is grounded after another missed opportunity.

Swiss frontman Albian Ajeti, who has claimed the paltry total of nine goals in two full seasons at Parkhead following his £5million arrival from West Ham in the summer of 2020, spent last term on loan at Sturm Graz, but, after netting only three league goals, the Austrians have unsurprisingly rejected the option to buy the misfiring marksman.

Ivorian anchorman Ismaila Soro also missed out on Celtic’s world record of eight domestic trebles as he was packed off on a temporary season-long loan transfer to Portuguese outfit FC Arouca.

He, too, has been returned to his parent club without business being done.

Postecoglou, of course, will not be around for the upcoming crusade following his rapid exit after the Scottish Cup Final triumph on June 3. Two days later, he was unveiled as Spurs’ new manager.

Returning gaffer Brendan Rodgers is currently assessing his pool of players and, interestingly, neither Ajeti nor Soro figured in the squad of 22 players who were given game time in last night’s 6-4 loss to Yokohama F Marinos in the first game of the Japan tour.

It’s unlikely they will feature in Saturday’s match against Gamba Osaka before the Hoops return to Scotland next week.

Twenty-four months, changes on and off the field in back-to-back crusades that yielded five of the six domestic honours.

It’s been a rollercoaster ride and it all kicked off two years ago today.

GLASGOW BELONGS TO ME…Liel Abada celebrates his first-ever goal for Celic.

Here is an extract from CQN’s match report that fateful evening:

NEW season, same old story.

A goalkeeper who can’t make a save, a makeshift defender who can’t tackle and Celtic facing an uphill struggle in Europe.

It’s just like watching an x-certificate replay of last season with Ange Postecoglou’s competitive debut ending in a stalemate with the Champions League second round qualifier return due in Denmark a week tomorrow.

 At one stage, though, it looked so promising when new Bhoy Liel Abada fired the Hoops into the lead in the 39th minute. The good work was undone, though, only five minutes later in a moment of utter madness by Nir Bitton.

The Israeli international who should never have been allowed to play in defence after past misdemeanours, stupidly got himself banished following a skirmish with the Danish side’s Anders Dreyer who had clearly dived in the hope of conning the Swiss referee into awarding a penalty-kick.

Bitton, who had already been booked, remonstrated with the opponent and then clearly pushed him in the face. That was all Dreyer needed to act theatrically and for the match offical to flash a red card under the Celt’s nose. His idiotic actions meant the end of the contest for the impressive Abada who had to be withdrawn for Dane Murray to make his competitive debut.

To compound the error, TV pictures showed the FC Midtjylland forward was about two yards offside when he raced onto a through ball in the first place before he even got anywhere near the penalty area.

GREEK TRAGEDY…Vasilis Barkas has a howler as he allows a free-kick from Evander (No.10) to slip through his fingers for FC Midtjylland’s equaliser in the 1-1 draw at Parkhead on July 20 2021.

Celtic, though, were still holding onto Abada’s strike until Vasilis Barkas took centre stage to remind us all why the club desperately need a new goalkeeper.

The £4.5million Greek convinced no-one last time out and he demonstrated yet again why he cannot be trusted in the 66th minute when Evander thumped in the leveller via a direct deadball effort from a tight angle on the left.

Welsh rashly gave a away a cheap free-kick and the danger signals were flashing when the Brazilian stepped up to hit a shot straight at goal. Amazingly, Barkas appeared to have it covered before pulling his hands away to allow the effort safe passage into the back of his net.

It was yet another mesmerising piece of goalkeeping from a netminder who appears incapable of dealing with any threat to his goal.

Now the Parkhead men are on the Euro tightrope again.

Welcome to Paradise, Ange Postecoglou!

TEAM: Barkas; Ralston, Welsh, Bitton, Taylor; Christie, Soro, Turnbull (sub: Rogic 77), McGregor; Abada (sub: Murray 44), Edouard (sub: Ajeti 77).

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