Celtic went down bravely to a 2-1 defeat to Bayern Munich, which ensure the Germans’ progress out of UEFA Champions League Group B with two games to spare.
Kinglsey Coman put Bayern ahead after Stuart Armstrong missed a perfect chance to put the hosts ahead.
The Hoops were the better side throughout and Callum McGregor deservedly equalised for them in the second half, only for Javi Martínez to head in the Bayern winner shortly after.
One poor moments costs otherwise superb Celtic
13 days after Bayern had beaten Celtic 3-0 at the Allianz Arena, the two did battle again at a typically-boisterous Celtic Park. There were ten changes across both sides from that match, and 12 from the two teams’ respective league fixtures at the weekend. Scott Brown and Moussa Dembélé were amongst the returnees for Celtic, whilst Bayern left key players like Mats Hummels and Thiago on the bench, with Robert Lewandowski injured.
Celtic had wilted in their matches against the big-boys of Group B, with a 5-0 home defeat to Paris Saint-Germain in September as well as the defeat in Munich. It was a different story here, and they could have led in the fifth minute. James Forrest found space on the right wing, and his great cross should have been turned in by Armstrong, but he mishit it and the ball went wide.
Celtic were taking the attack to Bayern and were the better side, but the one defensive lapse in the first half cost them dear. Dedryck Boyata was caught ball-watching as Sven Ulreich launched the ball forward, and Kingsley Coman, who had already look a threat, capitalised. There was a hint of handball as he got past Craig Gordon, but after giving the Celtic defenders the run-around, he found a gap and put Bayern ahead.
Celtic heads did drop after that, but not for long. Armstrong attempted to atone for his error with an excellent cross in towards Dembélé, however before the striker could get to the ball, David Alaba slid in and put it out of play.
Aside from the goal Bayern were limited to long-range efforts, such as one from Corentin Tolisso just before half-time, and the Hoops had legitimate claims to being the better side at the halfway point.
Martínez bleeds on Celtic’s parade
Celtic continued their positive display into the second half. Armstrong had a good chance soon in, from a Forrest cross, that was put wide by an alert Ulreich. Bayern, who no doubt had half an eye on a big Bundesliga match against Borussia Dortmund on Saturday, rarely threatened, with the one notable chance from James Rodríguez saved by Gordon.
Celtic kept up the pressure. Dembélé was denied in the box, whilst Forrest ran in from the right only to see his shot deflect wide.
The equaliser when it came was more than deserved, although it was questionable defending from Bayern. Forrest managed to find McGregor, with Rafinha putting in a hopeless attempt at intercepting it, with McGregor coolly slotting past Ulreich to send the home crowd into raptures.
Bayern had been punished for the half-baked approach to this match, yet in typical Dusel fashion they were then able to edge back in front from nowhere. Martínez showed great bravery in jumping up to head in Alaba’s cross whilst having to content with in the air with Nir Bitton. Both came out of the duel worse for wear, with blood gushing out of the Spaniard’s eye as Bayern went to celebrate.
There was only one more chance for Celtic to get a deserved point, with Dembélé firing over, however for the Scottish champions this will not feel like a defeat – it was a classic European night at Celtic Park, just without the result it deserved. Bayern’s win, combined with PSG’s 5-0 victory over RSC Anderlecht, mean both they and the Parisians progress to the knockout stages.