Hoops face Europa League play-off after Champions League KO

Hoops face Europa League play-off after Champions League KO


CELTIC just saw £30MILLION flushed down the Clujy.  At least, that’s what it felt like for Hoops fans after this stomach churning Euro sickener  It’s Romania’s champions in the play-off round after this dramatic end to end Champions League shocker  Dan Petrescu said in the build-up to this second-leg clash he wanted Neil Lennon’s job Well, here he did one on him.  It’ll be the Europa League as best now for Scotland’s champions who scored three times through James Forrest, Odsonne Edouard and Ryan Christie  But no team can concede four goals at home and expect to win through.  Lennon’s line-up wasn’t one many supporters would have predicted as they made their way into the stadium  But they’d have been talking about it on their way out.  Celtic shelled out the best part of £10m this summer on two new defenders CAN’T TRUST BOL  But neither Christopher Jullien or Boli Bolingoli were picked for this vital European clash  Jullien’s issue seems to be his lack of match sharpness but Celtic at least have options at centre-back with Jozo Simunovic and Kris Ajer such a strong and reliable partnership  Lennon doesn’t have that luxury at left-back. With Kieran Tierney gone, Bolingoli should be nailed-on at left-back on a night like this  Lennon has gone out his way to defend the Belgian, insisting the flak that’s been flying in his direction has been grossly unfair on a player only two minutes through the door  But it spoke volumes that Bolingoli couldn’t be trusted with so much at stake.  Callum McGregor was the man Lennon went with at left-back and it was a big call from the Celtic boss  The one thing Bolingoli lacks more than anything else is composure on the ball, which is something McGregor has in spades  But he was still playing out of position and no matter how good a player he is Cluj were always going to try and exploit that  They almost did just that after nine minutes.  That’s when Dan Petrescu and the entire Cluj subs’ bench jumped out the dugout screaming for a penalty, and you couldn’t help think they had a damn good case for one  McGregor did everything he could to retrieve an ominous-looking situation, when a hooked ball flew over his head and landed at the feet of striker Deac  The Cluj No10 looked odds-on to score but he shot wide with McGregor catching him with a late challenge a split second later  Anywhere else on the pitch and the Latvian referee, Andris Trelmanis, would almost certainly have awarded a free-kick CLUJ FULL OF ENERGY  But he took the decision that McGregor’s contact wasn’t significant and no spot-kick was given They got away with one there, Celtic.  But then they got away with quite a lot in the first half-hour which was littered with unforced errors and slackness  Cluj were full of energy all over the pitch with Celtic just all over the place  Ryan Christie and Mikey Johnston came close with a couple of shots from distance but it was the visitors who looked far more dangerous  When they took the lead after 27 minutes it came as absolutely no surprise.  The fact is came from an almost identical move which almost saw Cluj awarded penalty will be all the more galling for Lennon  A quick throw-in down the left flank was hooked into the box again by Billel Omrani with Deac this time glancing a header in off the post  Despite his best efforts, McGregor was the man out-jumped.  Suddenly Celtic Park was gripped by nerves and tension as every home supporter inside the ground started to fear the worse  Cluj got lucky before the break when hitman Mario Rondon escaped a second booking for a late foul on Ajer  The fact the striker didn’t reappear for the second half showed boss Petrescu was worried another yellow card was on its way  But it was a actually a Celtic goal.  Forrest’s equaliser was just a tremendous piece of skill and execution, as well as unbelievable composure  McGregor did brilliantly first of all to cross from the left with Edouard stepping over it with a neat dummy  The ball landed at Forrest’s feet at the back post and while most players would have stabbed at it first time he calmly took a touch before slotting it into the net with the outside of his right foot  Cluj were rattled with their players, Petrescu and his backroom staff questioning every decision the officials made KNIFE-EDGE  On the hour mark they were all furious they weren’t awarded a free-kick on the halfway line but while the lost their shape Edouard showed his brilliance to fire Celts ahead  Hatem Elhamed’s cross from the right wasn’t defended properly but French Eddy’s finish into the bottom corner was sublime  For all that, though, the game was still on a knife-edge with Cluj only needing to score one goal to win through on away goals  They thought they’d got it after a moment of madness from Scott Brown when he handled the ball inside his own box to concede a penalty  Omrani blasted past Scott Bain from the spot to mean Celtic needed to score again – but only three minutes later Christie did just that  Combining brilliantly with Edouard to burst into the box, the midfielder turned the ball into the net to regain Celtic’s advantage  But Cluj weren’t finished and with ten minutes left to play Omrani netted his second goal of the night, blasting high into the net after a good initial save from Bain  It was agonising stuff for Celtic who had nothing more to give with their Champions League dream left in tatters  With the last kick of the ball they even conceded again with George Tucudean beating Bain  Boos rang around Celtic Park at the sound of the final whistle as Cluj did a mass team huddle out on the pitch Celtic legend Mikael Lustig parties with team-mates and WAGs after his last game for club in Scottish Cup Final triumph

About the Author: Garret Beatty

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