JOSIP JURANOVIC blew the perfect opportunity to throw Celtic a lifeline in their final Champions League Group F outing in the Bernabeu last night.

And the misfiring right-back then PRAISED Thibaut Courtois after the Belgian keeper had foiled him with a crucial penalty-kick save.

Real Madrid were already leading 2-0 after two contentious hand-ball spot-kicks inside the first 20 minutes which were hammered behind Joe Hart by Luca Modric and then Brazilian Rodrygo.

Liel Abada was flattened by defender Ferland Mendy in the 33rd minute with the French referee Stephanie Frappart pointing once again to the spot.

PENALTY SHOUT…winger Liel Abada is sent sprawling by Real Madrid defender Ferland Mendy for Celtic’s spot-kick award.

Juranovic, 27, with a 100 per cent record from five awards in his Hoops debut season, blazed his attempt too close to Courtois who was able to beat the ball away to his right. It was yet another missed opportunity in a European adventure littered with them.

The Croatian international defender said: “It was a great save. What can I say? Courtois is one of the best goalkeepers and he read me.

“It doesn’t matter, it happened.”

Who knew Juranovic was so laidback? Okay, Ange Postecoglou’s side were already destined for European oblivion for another season without even the consolation of a place in the Europa League, but they had the chance to go out in a blaze of glory.

PENALTY SQUANDERED…Josip Juranovic hits his spot-kick too close to Thibaut Courtois.

A goal for Celtic at that stage would have undoubtedly changed the dynamic of the confrontation. However, the penalty-kick was badly struck, the player electing for power instead of precision, and it was at an ideal height for the 6ft 6in shotstopper.

Juranovic, speaking to The Herald, added: “I think that we had some chances. But that is Real Madrid and we need to be proud that we showed that we wanted to play football here.

“That’s it. We are coming back next year stronger. We were trying from the goalkeeper to the attackers to play passes and we keep that mentality.

“If we continue like that, we will be back stronger.”

HERE’S HOW IT’S DONE, MATE…Filipe Jota sends a 25-yard free-kick high past the Real Madrid keeper.

Whether Juranovic will be there to play his part remains to be seen. The rumour factory is in full swing at the moment with ‘insiders’ insisting he will be on his way after the World Cup Finals when the January transfer window opens.

The £2.5million signing from Legia Warsaw last summer was linked with Real Madrid’s city rivals Atletico in pre-season before admitting he was happy at the champions.

All will be revealed early next year.


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