By Alex Gordon.
A DREADFUL penalty-kick miss by Bahrudin Atajic condemned Ronny Deila to his first defeat as Celtic manager.
The Bosnian striker had the ideal opportunity to level the scores four minutes from time after substitute Paul McMullan had been downed in the box.
Unfortunately, Atajic blazed his spot-kick over the bar into the Hamburg crowd much to the annoyance of the new Hoops gaffer.
It was a largely experimental Celtic line-up with Deila taking no risks ahead of Wednesday’s Champions League qualifier against Legia Warsaw in the Polish capital.
Alas, appalling defending by Filip Twardzik gifted the Germans the winning goal before the interval.
The left-back made a mess of trying to control a long and hopeful punt into the Celtic penalty box. The ball broke clear and was immediately presented to Christopher Nothe who could hardly believe his good fortune.
Nothe struck his effort first time from eight yards and Craig Gordon had no chance as the low drive zipped past his right hand in the 39th minute.
Twardzik toiled in the opening 45 minutes and was also booked in the 33rd minute after a lunging tackle after once again giving the ball away with a slack pass.
Celtic started at whirlwind pace and had three excellent opportunities inside the opening 10 minutes.
Atajic fizzed in a low shot from just outside the box, but keeper Philipp Tschauner got down swiftly to hold the ball at his right hand post.
Five minutes later, Tony Watt, looking lively on the left wing, tried his luck from a tight angle.
His shot totally bamboozled Tschauner, but carried over the crossbar and out to safety.
Amido Balde should have got the game’s opening goal in the 10th minute when he was through on goal after some neat play outside the box.
However, the Portuguese Under-21 international lacked composure at the vital moment and allowed the keeper to block his hurried parting shot.
Gordon, making his second appearance for the Hoops, showed he was still rusty after being out for over two years with a slack goal-kick to Nir Biton.
The Israeli midfielder, captain for the day, was taken unawares and St Pauli broke forward, but made a mess of the opportunity.
Stuart Findlay, partnering Eoghan O’Connell in the middle of the inexperienced back four, was also sloppy with some wayward passes, but the Hoops escaped punishment.
The game was billed as a friendly – and the clubs have an affiliation – but the home players weren’t slow to put in some punishing challenges.
Skipper Soren Gonther was yellow-carded for a rugby tackle on McGeouch that wouldn’t have looked out of place in Celtic’s current home at Murrayfield.
Liam Henderson tried to set up Balde with a neat chip into the danger zone, but the ball carried over the giant frontman’s head.
It looked like being a stalemate at the interval until Twardzik’s lapse in concentration and control allowed St Pauli to snatch the lead.
Deila put on Lukasz Zaluska for Gordon at half-time and replaced the ineffective Balde with Paul McMullan.
Henderson brought the St Pauli keeper into action with a long-range free-kick in the 65th minute. The idea was good, but, unfortunately, the execution didn’t quite match the ambition.
Zaluska produced one memorable moment when he pushed a raging effort from Sebastian Mhyre over the crossbar 10 minutes from time.
Then came Atajic’s dreadful spot-kick blunder which was followed in the last minute by an effort from Watt which swept just wide of the target.
As an exercise, it was worthwhile and the Celtic youngsters will expect to do better when presented with the opportunity to impress the new manager.
CELTIC: Gordon (sub: Zaluska 46); Herron, Findlay, O’Connell, Twardzik; Biton, Henderson, McGeouch; Atajic, Balde (sub: McMullan 46) and Watt.