CELTIC can expect further punishment among Europe’s elite if they do not learn quickly from the painful lessons that have come their way in this Champions League campaign.
That’s the no-nonsense verdict of Liam Scales in the fall-out of the six-goal mauling in Madrid on Tuesday evening.
For the third time in four Euro games, the Hoops saw a player dismissed with Daizen Maeda joining Gustaf Lagerbielke and Odin Holm, both red-carded in the 2-0 loss to Feyenoord in the opening game in Rotterdam.
SEEING RED…Daizen Maeda challenges Mario Hermosa for a loose ball with the Atletico Madrid poised to take off in a theatrical dive to persuade the referee to red card the Celt.
Referees have been hounded by the opposition at key moments and there was the sickening sight of a posse of Atletico players beseeching referee Ivan Kruzliak to banish Maeda after his challenge on Mario Hermoso in the 22nd minute.
And then the match official endured a haranguing from the charmless Diego Simeone and his vocal staff when the reviewed the incident on the touchline monitor. It’s disgraceful, but it now appears to be an accepted part of the game at this level.
It’s been a tough and agonising excursion into European battlefields that has seen the Scottish champions also lose to Lazio as well as the Dutch and Spaniards with the only point taken in the 2-2 draw with Antoine Griezmann and Co in Glasgow last month.
Reflecting on another chastening experience in Group E, Scales said: “It’s probably we’re a young team and maybe a bit naive at times.
“You play in Europe and you get nothing out of the referees. They’re a lot stricter and tackles you might get away with domestically, they give.
“With VAR, you’re going to pick up red cards in the way we’ve been doing. It’s frustrating because, with 11 players on the pitch, we had started the game quite well.
“I know we’d conceded before the red card, but we had quite a bit of the ball and it definitely would have been a more even game with 11 men.”
X-CERTIFICATE VIEWING…Liam Scales gets a close-up look of Alvaro Morata scoring Atletico Madrid’s second goal past the helpless Joe Hart. Cameron Carter-Vickers and Greg Taylor are also spectators.
Scales, speaking to the Daily Record, continued: “Atletico are definitely more street-smart than us, that’s for sure, the way they influence the referee.
“It’s not the nicest part of the game, but it helps them win games – and we could definitely learn from it. You see the way they react, all their staff are up off the bench. It definitely doesn’t help.
“The VAR screen is right beside their bench and the referee was probably feeling the pressure. But, look, the refs make the decisions and that’s fair enough. Playing a game like that with 10 men is tough.”
The 25-year-old Republic of Ireland international defender added: “You need to learn from these things at this level because teams are so ruthless. And if you don’t learn, then the same things are going to keep happening in these games.
“You might feel like you maybe could have got a result. I don’t want to sound like a broken record, but in a couple of the games in this campaign I feel like we could have got something out of them.
“Okay, on Tuesday night, but we just have to learn from this, take it into the next two games and really have a go at it.
“We got a result at home against Atletico. We’re at the level – it’s just naivety and poor decisions at times have let us down.
END OF THE PAIN GAME…Brendan Rodgers looks crestfallen in the Metropolitano Stadium at time-up.
“Some of the goals we could have defended better. We need to look back on that and see what we could have done better defensively. It’s good experience, they are brilliant players. It’s a good challenge and I enjoy it.
“But it’s still difficult with 10 men away from home to get results at any level, especially there. It’s tough enough to go there with 11 men.
“But having our backs against the wall for that long, with the quality of players they have and the amount of attacking they were doing, they’re going to score goals.”
Brendan Rodgers will now take his players to Rome on Tuesday November 28 to face Lazio and the curtain will come down on the campaign against Feyenoord at Parkhead on December 13.