CELTIC went from heroes to zeroes in the space of 15 dramatic minutes at Parkhead last night.
In the 81st minute, Luis Palma looked as though he had claimed a sensational winner when he flashed in a low angled drive against Lazio to make the scoreline 2-1 to the hosts.
Alas, the ‘goal’ was wiped out by a matter of inches by VAR and the Honduran winger, his team-mates and the fans could only reflect on how cruel sport can be, especially when the margins are wafer-thin.
Six minutes into stoppage-time, Pedro knocked in a slow-motion header and the Hoops went from three points to nil points in a massively disappointing climax to a confrontation where they had virtually bossed the entire second-half.
KYOGO THE FIRST…striker Furuhashi celebrates putting Celtic ahead, his first-ever goal in the Champions League group stages.
So, this morning the Champions League Group E table shows Brendan Rodgers’ men anchored at the foot following two losses while Atletico Madrid and last night’s conquerors share top spot with four points with Feyenoord, who beat the Hoops 2-0 in Rotterdam on opening day, third on three points.
Reflecting on another painful evening among Europe’s elite, skipper Callum McGregor said: “If the game finished as a draw, we would probably be unhappy with that as we wanted to win and I felt like we did enough.
“I felt we merited it if we got the winner, so for it to turn the complete other way, we speak about it all the time, but at this level that’s the difference.
“It’s one moment that gets a little bit scrappy and Pedro shows unbelievable quality in his header to get the goal. It’s a tough one in terms of how the game finished.
“We have got to learn again from that, but, ultimately, we have got to get points on the board if we want to get out of this group.
“The next game here against Atletico Madrid is massive in terms of that.”
HEARTACHE…Joe Hart, Cameron Carter-Vickers and Matt O’Riley can only look on in anguish as Pedro’s stoppage-time header sneaks in at the far post for Lazio’s winner.
Kyogo Furuhashi at last scored a Champions League goal at the eighth time of asking when he finished off a sweet, free-flowing move by tucking the ball under the keeper in the 12th minute.
But a lapse in concentration at a right-wing corner-kick allowed Mateus Vecino to sneak a header behind the scrambling Joe Hart for the equaliser just before the half-hour mark.
McGregor, speaking to Celtic TV, continued: “We dominated the start of the game and were really comfortable and probably as good as we have been here at home for a long time in a Champions League game.
“You have to take the positives from that, as well. The boys are growing all the time and in the second-half it looked like there was only one team that was going to win that game.
“We just need to learn and try and cut out those little bits of concentration where it’s costing us at the minute.”
The inspirational midfielder added: “It’s been two opposite ends of the scale this week where we get a last-minute winner at Motherwell and then we concede that.
“It shows the highs and low you go through as a group, and especially when you’re trying to build, you have got to take those and stay in the middle and learn and progress all the time.
“We can take positives that we were dominant at home and deserved to win the match. You have to take the learning from that and the next home game is massive.”
On the domestic front, the champions now prepare for the visit of Kilmarnock on Saturday with the players given the opportunity to extract some revenge for the Viaplay League Cup exit at Rugby Park in August.