Celtic have crashed out of the Champions League after conceding 4 occasions to CFR Cluj of Romania in a frantic recreation in Glasgow.
Neil Lennon’s aspect had been 2-1 behind on mixture at half-time due to Cirpian Deac’s header, however appeared to have turned the tie round with targets from James Forrest and Odsonne Edouard.
Billel Omrani’s penalty gave Cluj the lead on away targets with 16 minutes left, and though Ryan Christie pressured the hosts in entrance, Omrani and George Tucudean struck to seal Celtic’s destiny.
It means the Scottish champions now drop into the Europa League play-off spherical, the place they are going to play Moldovans Sheriff Tiraspol or Swedish aspect AIK, with the latter having gained 2-1 away final week.
Celtic reached the final 32 of that competitors final season, having been knocked out on the identical stage of the Champions League by AEK Athens.
‘Cluj exploited Celtic and grew amid chaos’
An abject evening started with a range by Lennon that had a number of among the many house assist a tad perplexed.
Callum McGregor, one in all his most dynamic midfielders, was picked at left-back. Lennon stated that he needed as many “technicians” in his staff as potential. What he wanted was extra resistance, extra nous, extra defensive self-discipline.
Lennon needed McGregor and Olivier Ntcham on the sector and the one approach to do it was to select the Scot in defence, he stated. In fact the opposite concept is that his belief in his first-choice left-back, Boli Bolingoli, just isn’t precisely full.
Whatever the purpose, McGregor performed on the again and Celtic struggled their method via a testy opening half.
Cluj arrived with intent, physicality and tempo up entrance. They pressed Celtic onerous and quick and regarded harmful on the counter-attack. When the warmth got here on them afterward, they delivered big-time. A raucous stadium didn’t make them bat an eyelid. They grew amid the chaos. They exploited Celtic and all of the acres of area they afforded them.
The objective that introduced collective palpitations to Celtic Park got here simply earlier than the half-hour.
From an innocuous place, a throw-in on the left touchline, Cluj engineered the opener with an terrible lot of assist from their hosts.
Omrani went up the wing, away from Scott Brown, and swung in a cross that ought to have been handled comfortably. As a substitute, McGregor let Deac get throughout him and the Romanian outjumped him and noticed his header go in off Scott Bain’s left-hand submit.
Because it stood, Celtic had been out of the Champions League, a destiny that introduced a mix of tension and anger to the stadium. Celtic regarded unsettled. Their supporters sounded livid, not (but) at their staff as such however at Cluj’s Venezuelan striker Mario Rondon who, having already picked up a yellow card, then thundered into Kristoffer Ajer with out sanction.
‘Nightmarish evening of violent turbulence’
An interesting recreation solely grew to become ever extra compelling. Celtic got here again out for the restart with much more urgency, Ajer’s header getting cleared off the road one minute, Jozo Simunovic’s header saved the subsequent.
The sport was madcap. A large open, toe-to-toe slugfest.
The equaliser was greeted like a protracted misplaced son, McGregor blasting down the left earlier than squaring to Edouard, who dummied deftly and let it run to Forrest. The winger was cool and medical. Celtic Park erupted.
They upped it from there, Hatem Elhamed’s cross squeezing between the hapless Paulo Vinicius and Andonie Burca to Edouard, who put Celtic in entrance. Simply over an hour had gone and Celtic drove on to get one other. Christie lashed one extensive as the house staff seemed to be setting sail for the Champions League play-off spherical.
The violent turbulence of the evening began to kick in. From a nook, the ball carried to the again submit and Scott Brown dealt with. Penalty. The silence that descended on the place was one thing else. Omrani stood up and lashed it previous Bain to make it 2-2. As soon as once more, Celtic had been going out.
However, no. Two minutes later it switched once more when Edouard burst via on the left aspect of the field and slipped it throughout to Christie, arriving forward of all others. Christie tapped it house.
On this loopy evening, Celtic had been via once more. After which they had been out once more.
Cluj had been like a prizefighter, behind on factors however nonetheless possessing the firepower for a knockout. Below the cosh for therefore lengthy, they broke out and Constantin Paun, beneath little stress, fired a shot on Bain’s objective. The goalkeeper flung himself away to his proper and parried it, however when the ball broke free there wasn’t a Celtic man in sight. All of them had been posted lacking.
The one participant who was the place he wanted to be was Omrani, who lashed his shot excessive previous Bain to make it 3-3. Cluj had been going via. Celtic tried to avoid wasting themselves, however could not.
They’d six added minutes but it surely solely bought worse. As they tried to get a winner they conceded a loser, George Tucudean making it 4-Three with the sport’s final kick.
A nightmarish evening for Celtic. Actually terrible. It wasn’t speculated to be like this. A shot on the Europa League group stage is all that is ready for them now.
Man of the match – Billel Omrani
Omrani scored two and made one. Other than that, he was a risk together with his physicality and his tempo. Celtic’s defence struggled with him periodically and when the ball broke free within the recreation’s pivotal second none of them had been anyplace close to him. He was the one man on the pitch alive to what was occurring.
Greater than anyone, Omrani was the one who did the harm.