CELTIC huffed and puffed for 50 second half minutes, the majority of which was played against 10 men, but could not lay a glove on a deep sitting AEK Athens side.
The visitors could not believe their luck as they left the field at a packed Celtic Park at half time. Celtic, inspired by home grown talents Kieran Tierney and Callum McGregor threatened to run riot but only had the one goal from Euro specialist McGregor to show for their dominance,
Yet just as the kettle in the dressing room was boiling the visitors fired a long ball down Celtic’s right – Lustig looked laboured in pursuit but the Athens player’s determination was rewarded as he reached the ball just as it reached the bye-line. Lopez’s speculative cross was inexplicably left by Ajer and Klonaridis was allowed the freedom of Glasgow to fire Athens level.
It was a shockingly poor goal for Celtic to lose – a Greek tragedy for Brendan Rodgers and the Celtic support.
The second half was largely forgettable. McGregor and Ntcham has efforts, Sinclair looked lively when he replaced Lustig – who didn’t look up to speed at all — and only James Forrest looked capable of getting in behind the Greeks when he ran at them. It was a Forrest run that panicked the Greeks and resulted in the red card.
It has been a bad few days for Celtic. We now need to travel to Greece after a tough shift at Tynecastle on Saturday. We need to score in Greece or we are out.
AEK Athens are no great shakes but will be strong favourites to progress. Too many Celtic players had below par performances tonight and with everything else going on it is going to be a testing week for Brendan Rodgers and one that will go a long way to defining our season.
Respect to The Green Brigade for their Champions League – having a laugh banner at the start.
Sadly that’s also a song we’re likely to hear chanted at us in the coming weeks. Unless we can pick ourselves up and win in Athens.
Man of the Match – £25million Everton target, Kieran Tierney.