ROBIN VAN PERSIE came off the substitutes’ bench to score, but couldn’t prevent crashing to a 3-2 defeat at Besiktas.
Celtic’s Europa League rivals were two goals down after 25 minutes and coach Vitor Pereira threw on the former Manchester United frontman after an hour.
The Dutch ace levelled in the 65th minute, but was unable to inspire the Turks to a point from a gruelling encounter. Mario Gomez struck the winner in the 74th minute.
Van Persie has started just four matches since his £3.5million-per-year move from Old Trafford in the summer and the Turkish media have been speculating about his relationship with Pereira.
The coach has already stated he makes the decisions and added: “The players can like what I do or not like what I do.”
Van Persie admitted he wasn’t happy last week after failing to start the game against Bursaspor. He came off the bench to score the winner on that occasion.
Last night’s result allowed Besiktas to join Fenerbahce at the top of the table with 13 points from six games.
It was hardly the ideal preparation for Thursday’s crucial tie in Glasgow where Periera must make a decision about Van Persie’s ability to face the SPFL champions right from the kick-off.
The 32-year-old striker is unlikely to be content to miss out on the start of a tie from which the Turks must take something or face the very real prospect of European oblivion before the knock-out stages later in the campaign.