August 27 – Glasgow Celtic crashed out of the Champions League following a dramatic 1-2 defeat at the hands of Hungarian championss Ferencvaros. It was the Scottish club’s earliest exit in the competition in 15 years.
Last week, Celtic eliminated KR Reykjavik 6-0 in the first round of qualifying for Europe’s premier club competition, but on Wednesday the Scots met their match in Sergei Rebrov’s team.
Neil Lennon’s side levelled the score through a deflected attempt from Ryan Christie after David Siger’s early goal had given the Hungarian champions the lead in the one-legged tie. Christie deputised for leading striker Odsonne Edouard, who was deemed unfit in the hours leading up to the match.
But Tokmac Nguen’s breakaway goal snatched victory for the visitors at Parkhead, leaving Celtic, who dominated possession, stunned. The goal had come against the run of play as Ferencvaros visibly tired.
“It was easier than I thought it was going to be,” said Celtic manager Neil Lennon. “We didn’t take our chances and we had plenty of them. The second goal is really poor, really poor decision making, and it’s individual mistakes that have cost us again. It’s not fine going out at this stage of the competition, because we’re better than that.”
The defeat equalled Celtic’s worst performance in the competition. In 2005, Artmedia Bratislava knocked Celtic out in the second round of Champions League qualifying, winning 5-4 on aggregate. Celtic last participated in the lucrative group stages of the Champions League in the 2017/18 season when they finished third in a group with PSG, Bayern Munich and Anderlecht. Their relegation to the Europa League ended in round of 32 defeat at the hands of Zenit Saint Petersburg.
The Scottish champions can still qualify for the second-tier club competition as they will drop into the Europa League third qualifying round. Next Thursday, the Hoops will learn their opponents in the draw.
Ferencvaros march into the final round of Champions League qualifiers. Rebrov said: “We have beaten one of the best teams we have faced in qualification last year and this year. They have quality players, but I think we deserved this. Most of the time we defended, but football is about scoring goals, not about the possession of the ball.”
Contact the writer of this story, Samindra Kunti, at moc.l1601005649labto1601005649ofdlr1601005649owedi1601005649sni@o1601005649fni1601005649