AT THE age of 36 and with 75 international appearances for England on his impressive CV, Joe Hart is searching for a football first this evening – a Champions League clean sheet for Celtic.
The experienced keeper goes into the final match in Group E of Europe’s elite competition after shipping TWENTY-NINE goals in 11 games since making his Hoops debut at this level against the-then holders of the trophy Real Madrid at Parkhead on September 6 last year.
Hart and his team-mates played well for almost an hour before the roof fell in with the Spaniards netting three quickfire strikes in a 3-0 win.
PAIN IN SPAIN…Joe Hart is beaten for the fourth time as Atletico Madrid romp to a 6-0 win.
It got worse in the return in the Spanish capital as the veteran shotstopper was beaten five times – twice from penalty-kicks – as the visitors collapsed to a 5-1 loss.
Before that final curtain in the Bernabeu, Hart had to retrieve the ball from his net on five occasions against RB Leipzig (1-3, 0-2) while there were 1-1 draws home and away against Shakhtar Donetsk.
This season, the Hoops kicked off with a 2-0 loss in Rotterdam, with Lazio claiming four (1-2, 0-2) and Atletico Madrid piling on the misery with eight (2-2, 0-6).
Hart is hoping for better fortune against the Dutch in the meaningless final match of the section. The European battleground in the past three years has proved to be a torrid experience for the former Manchester City No.1 and other Celtic keepers, Scott Bain and Vasilis Barkas.
HELPLESS…Joe Hart stretches in vain as Ciro Immobile smashes Lazio into the lead in the 2-0 win in Rome.
Scotland’s title kings have conceded a mind-numbing FIFTY-SIX goals in their last 25 Euro ties with Hart involved in 51 of the total.
Bain has been beaten four times in the x-certificate sequence while Barkas, in his only European excursion during Ange Postecoglou’s reign, flapped at FC Midtjylland’s equaliser in the new manager’s first competitive game, a 1-1 stalemate with Celtic losing 2-1 in extra-time in Denmark. Bain played in the second game.
Hart goes back into the firing line against the Dutch champions under the lights in the east end of Glasgow as he tries once again for a shut-out.
* DON’T miss the unbeatable match report from Celtic v Feyenoord tonight – only in your champion CQN.