Europa League – RB Leipzig 2 Celtic 0
BRENDAN RODGERS watched his makeshift side hold their own on the first half hour of tonight’s Europa League Group stage match against RB Leipzig. Indeed his side had created the best chance of the opening period when Lewis Morgan combined with Odsonne Edouard and the young French striker created space and got his shot away. It missed by inches and it would be late in the game when his fellow Frenchman Olivier Ntcham went through on the keeper but couldn’t convert.
Other than that Celtic offered nothing. It was a performance lacking in ambition and quality. A tactical change after 25 minutes, with a sheet of paper delivered to the park – we had no Scott Brown to intercept this time – and the Germans changed their shape to match Celtic’s and they never looked back.
It may be Halloween next week but Leipzig must have thought that it was Christmas that had come early when Kouassi completely missed a speculative cross into the box. This seemed to confused Dedryck Boyata and the inevitable happened and Cunha wasn’t going to miss it. It was a compete gift of a goal and minutes later it was repeated on the other wing as Gamboa through himself into a tackle, got nowhere near it and left Celtic wide open. Kouassi was again culpable in the that he failed to deal with the loose ball, not could Ntcham and it was driven past Craig Gordon by Bruma on 35 minutes.
The words of Charlie Gallagher – that he is a fan of the forward pass – came to mind watching ambition-less Celtic for the rest of this match. Both the defence and midfield were so deep that all the play was around our penalty area and when we could clear there was nowhere to go. Tactically Brendan Rodgers was out thought tonight after early promise.
And his mood will not have improved as he watched Simunovic go off on a stretcher midway through the second half. Whatever you think about Jozo, one thing he is not a a quick heeler. With Boyata suspended for Sunday and Simunovic now a major doubt then the problems are staring up.
Gamboa was replaced by Lustig at the start of the second half after injuring himself in the missed tackle for the second goal and the Swedish right back looked to have picked up a knock himself.
Of the fringe players given an opportunity this evening only Ryan Christie can be reasonably pleased with his performance, but in truth there were no real stand-outs in that horrible and unlucky yellow strip. David Potter is sure to mention that later!
The conversation will look back at the failures at the club over the summer to strengthen the squad. But it is in January that actions need to be taken if Celtic are to have any ambitions in European football. Do we want to make a mark in Europe or are we just content with being ahead of the pack in Scotland?
Tonight Leipzig never really broke sweat, they played in their lower gears. Celtic were beaten far too easily – again – and everyone in the Red Bull arena knew it. The 5000+ Celtic support who travelled again and were a credit to the club throughout their time in Germany really did deserve much more than this.
Salzburg beat Rosenborg 3-0 in Austria this evening so now have 9 points and are looking like runaway group winners. Leipzig have 6 points after wins against Celtic tonight and the hapless Norwegians last time out. Celtic are third with the 3 points – Leigh Griffiths’ goal could yet be significant.
Celtic have two home games against the Red Bull sides and a trip to play Rosenborg. Nine points are needed. We are not out of this group yet but Brendan will need to get much more out of his squad than he got tonight.
The Celtic Star Man of the Match – Dedryck Boyata, and even he wasn’t at his best.
We posted the first part of Matt Corr’s Leipzig Diary at half-time. As usual it’s a great read and you can check it out HERE.