CELTIC’S hopes and dreams of making an impact in the Champions League this season were buried under the rubble of a thoroughly inept and dismal display against Cluj at Parkhead last night.

The Hoops snatched defeat from the jaws of victory as they twice had the upperhand against the Romanians – yet still managed to blow their chance of a play-off for a place in the lucrative group stages of Europe’s elite competition.

For the second successive campaign, a wretched performance in front of their own fans proved to be the team’s downfall. Last term. it was a 1-1 stalemate against the mediocre AEK Athens after Callum McGregor had bestowed an early lead on Scotland’s title kings. However, dreadful defending allowed their opponents to level and a 2-1 flop in the Greek capital brought down the curtain of the opportunity of mixing with the big boys in the prestigious tournament.

Last night, the home support were forced to watch an unpalatable action replay. Despite goals from James Forrest, Odsonne Edouard and Ryan Christie, some truly awful and alarming back-four performing allowed Dan Petrescu’s grateful players to stick four behind Scott Bain who never looked convincing throughout the evening.

And, so, once more Celtic’s thoughts turn to the Europa League.

But it should have been so much different.

CQN‘s team of ace snappers were at the confrontation to capture the best of the action action. Here is the pick of the pics.

NUMBER ONE…James Forrest is congratulated by Mikey Johnston after throwing his side a lifeline.

NUMBER TWO…Odsonne Edouard is about to be congratulated by Ryan Christie after putting Celtic 2-1 ahead.

YIPPEE…Kristoffer Ajer can’t help displaying his delight at Edouard’s strike.

NUMBER THREE…Ryan Christie is about to celebrate with Odsonne Edouard after firing the Hoops into a 3-2 lead.

HIGH JINKS…Kristoffer Ajer leaps to head clear as Callum McGregor looks on.

BY THE LEFT…Ryan Christie zips in a shot.

UP AND AT ‘EM…Ryan Christie skips over a challenge on the touchline.

IN CONTROL…Odsonne Edouard piles on the pressure.

HE WENT THATAWAY…James Forrest on the run.

MOVE OVER…Mikey Johnston in a tussle for possession.

INSIDE MAN…Callum McGregor cuts in to baffle an opponent.

THE EYES HAVE IT…Olivier Ntcham attempts to bewilder Cluj’s Ciprian Deac.

HIGH HOPES…substitute Leigh Griffiths attempts to bring the ball under control.

CRASH…Callum McGregor is just off target with a thumping left-foot drive.

BEST FOOT FORWARD…Lewis Morgan attempts an acrobatic effort.

AGONY…Odsonne Edouard and Mikey Johnston show their anguish as a chance is lost.

KRIS CROSS…Hoops defender Kristoffer Ajer points an accusing finger at an opponent.

SAD ENDING…Callum McGregor acknowledges the support as Celtic head for the Euro exit.


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