Midway through the second half, I chastised myself for being so downbeat about our prospects last night. For 81 minutes, the game was there to be won. Neither team was at full strength, but if Celtic had a little of Maeda’s industry, or Hatate’s control, the outcome could have been different.
As it was, the game turned when Lazio benefited from a late deflection. It officially brought to an end hopes of Europa League games after Christmas, but those surely did not exist after Lazio scored a last-minute winner at Celtic Park earlier in the campaign.
Being competitive, as we were twice against Lazio, once against Atletico and while we had 11 men away to Feyenoord, is our Champions League stake in the ground so far this season. The results, however, tell a story of defensive fragility, and an inability to create a sufficient volume of chances to make sure we are the team who benefits from a late deflection.
Paulo Bernardo was a surprise starter and should feel pleased with his contribution. I suspect there is a player in him, but he will need a run of games in the team if we are to properly develop his talent.
He can look to Liam Scales, who is the left-sided central defender practically every team is looking for. Against St Johnstone earlier this season, Liam looked miles short of a player who could deliver a shift away from home in the Champions League. Game time and the correct coaching changed that. This is our place in the world: find talent and realise its potential. There is no other sustainable model for Celtic.
A lot more rides on the Feyenoord game than the table suggests. For so many reasons, nothing less than a win against the Dutch champions will do.