Furuhashi and Abada strike late to give Celtic dramatic win over Dundee United | Scottish Premiership

Celtic substitutes Kyogo Furuhashi and Liel Abada scored in a dramatic finale to earn the Premiership champions a 4-2 victory over Dundee United.

United looked like they might earn themselves a point when they equalised with three minutes left as Dylan Levitt’s cross ended up in the net. Tony Watt possibly got a slight touch after attempting to glance a header.

However, Furuhashi headed home from a last-minute corner before Abada made sure Celtic went seven points clear before Rangers visit St Johnstone on Sunday.

Sead Haksabanovic had scored his first two goals for Celtic in the first half either side of a VAR-assisted Steven Fletcher penalty and the hosts were almost made to pay for failing to make early second-half pressure count when United improved in the final 20 minutes.

Ange Postecoglou’s side again found a way to dig out three points though to leave United suffering a very different but similarly painful defeat against a side which beat them 9-0 in August.

Another thrashing looked like it might be on the cards when Haksabanovic netted a sixth-minute opener. Jota had already missed two half chances before setting the Montenegro international up for a tap-in after the Portuguese winger had been played in by Reo Hatate.

Far from opening the floodgates, the tide turned the other way following a United corner. Alexandro Bernabei rose to head clear but a visiting player got a flick-on and Fletcher’s header hit off the Celtic left-back’s arm behind his body while he was still in the air.

The Argentinian knew nothing about it but, after initially playing on, referee David Dickinson pointed to the spot and flashed a yellow card after going to his monitor. Fletcher converted.

Dundee United goalkeeper Mark Birghitti fails to save Celtic’s Sead Haksabanovic’s second goal.
Dundee United goalkeeper Mark Birghitti fails to save Celtic’s Sead Haksabanovic’s second goal. Photograph: Andrew Milligan/PA

Celtic took time to get back in their stride, although United goalkeeper Mark Birighitti made an excellent stop from a Giorgos Giakoumakis header, and there was a further lengthy delay when VAR Nick Walsh checked for a potential red card after Craig Sibbald caught the Greek striker with a high boot. Dickinson had not even blown for a foul and he was not called to his monitor.

Anthony Ralston was denied by Birighitti before Celtic got back in front in the 34th minute after keeping the pressure on following a corner. Matt O’Riley’s cross ultimately fell for Haksabanovic, whose first-time strike was pushed in off the post by the United goalkeeper’s weak attempt to stop.

Celtic were well on top in the opening stages of the second half. The closest they came was when David Turnbull’s header looked destined for the net following brilliant wing play from Jota but Aziz Behich got back to stop the ball on the line.

Birighitti twice made saves from O’Riley and Giakoumakis threatened on several occasions and Turnbull came close with a left-footed long-range strike.

Celtic lost some of their momentum though and home fans began to get nervy as United improved in possession. Furuhashi came close with a glancing header but Celtic soon had a double let-off approaching the final 10 minutes.

Celtic were caught out by Levitt’s quickly-taken free-kick which got Glenn Middleton down the right channel. The substitute beat Joe Hart but Greg Taylor got back to clear off the line.

Ryan Edwards got up to get a clean header from the resulting corner from Archie Meekison but the ball bounced off the post.

Celtic stepped up their efforts to get a more comfortable lead and James Forrest headed against the underside of the bar following a cross by fellow substitute Taylor.

Celtic were soon stunned when United equalised through Levitt but they responded emphatically. Birighitti made a good stop from Moritz Jenz but was soon beaten by Furuhashi’s header after Ralston flicked on O’Riley’s corner.

Abada soon streaked down the right wing before chipping Birighitti and his goal counted after a VAR check for offside.

Celtic’s Champions League campaign ends with Real Madrid humiliation | Champions League

Celtic missed a penalty and conceded from two as their Champions League campaign ended with a 5-1 defeat. Luka Modric and Rodrygo scored from the spot after two handball decisions before Josip Juranovic saw his effort from 12 yards saved.

Second-half goals from Marco Asensio, Vinícius Júnior and Federico Valverde took the game well beyond Celtic but the visitors created a number of chances and substitute Jota scored with one of their 14 attempts at goal as he curled home a brilliant free-kick.

With RB Leipzig earlier beating Shakhtar Donetsk in Warsaw, Real needed a win to clinch top place in Group F against a Celtic side who had lost any hope of dropping into the Europa League when they were held by Shakhtar last week.

Joe Hart led Celtic in the absence of the injured Callum McGregor and Cameron Carter-Vickers, whose place was taken by Carl Starfelt for the Swede’s first appearance since damaging his knee against Rangers two months ago.

The first half was a tale of penalty kicks and summed up Celtic’s European campaign. They had made a lively start but a reverse pass opened them up and Asensio’s mis-kicked shot hit the arm of Moritz Jenz. The referee, Stéphanie Frappart, immediately pointed to the spot and Modric sent Hart the wrong waydespite the goalkeeper going to Juranovic, Modric’s teammate for Croatia, for advice.

Celtic’s Greg Taylor shows his disappointment.
Celtic’s Greg Taylor shows his disappointment. Photograph: Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

The holders doubled their lead in the 21st minute after a VAR-assisted penalty. Hart had saved well from Vinícius before Rodrygo’s shot struck the arm of Matt O’Riley. The shot was taken from two yards away from O’Riley and was going well wide but Frappart gave a penalty and booked the Celtic midfielder after watching a replay.

Celtic’s 35th-minute penalty came after Liel Abada skinned Ferland Mendy and was then chopped down. Juranovic had scored all five of his previous penalties for the Scottish champions but his powerful strike was a good height for Thibaut Courtois to parry.

The visitors had earlier squandered a number of decent opportunities. Kyogo Furuhashi hit Daizen Maeda’s low cross wide on the stretch when Abada was well placed and unmarked behind him. Reo Hatate shot over, Furuhashi hit an effort straight at Courtois after again being set up by Maeda and the goalkeeper made a good stop from Hatate’s long-range strike.

The difference in quality between the teams was evident from two incidents early in the second half. Asensio produced an excellent first-time finish from Dani Carjaval’s cutback in the 51st minute. At the other end, Aaron Mooy took a poor touch after being set up in the Real area.

The hosts went four up in the 61st minute when Vinícius got goal-side of Starfelt and flicked home Valverde’s low cross.

Ange Postecoglou made a triple substitution for Celtic and they were all involved as Real again survived some pressure. Sead Haksabanovic’s cross set up Giorgos Giakoumakis but he shot straight at Courtois and Hatate’s weak follow-up was blocked before the goalkeeper saved David Turnbull’s powerful drive.

Again the difference in finishing was displayed when Valverde swept home from 22 yards in the 71st minute before O’Riley came close from a similar chance.

Celtic continued pushing for a goal, leaving themselves exposed on the counterattack at times, and Courtois denied Jota twice but the goalkeeper was finally beaten by the winger’s free-kick in the 84th minute.

Greg Taylor scores screamer as Celtic sink Livingston to go four points clear | Scottish Premiership

Greg Taylor celebrated his 100th game for Celtic with a stunning goal in a comprehensive 3-0 win over Livingston at the Tony Macaroni Arena. The 24-year-old Hoops defender set up Japan striker Kyogo Furuhashi to fire in his ninth goal of the season in the 10th minute of a game that the visitors dominated.

Taylor, signed from Kilmarnock in 2019, had an effort saved by debutant keeper Jack Hamilton just after the break but found the net in the 53rd minute with a thunderous drive from 25 yards.

Giorgos Giakoumakis hit the post with a penalty in the 84th minute before his fellow substitute Jota added a third in the closing stages as Ange Postecoglou’s side restored their four-point lead over Rangers at the top of the Scottish Premiership.

David Martindale’s side battled to a 1-1 draw with the at Ibrox last week but here they found the champions just too quick, skilful and powerful.

Celtic take on Real Madrid in their final Champions League game in the Santiago Bernabéu stadium on Wednesday with their exit from European football this season already confirmed, but they remain a formidable force on the domestic scene.

The big pre-match team news was that 28-year-old Hamilton, signed from Morton in August, was making his Livingston debut following an injury to Shamal George, with Jackson Longridge and James Penrice coming back into the side. Postecoglou reshuffled again with Anthony Ralston, Aaron Mooy and James Forrest coming into the side.

Celtic kept the ball well in the early stages but it was only after Joel Nouble’s effort from a Stephen Kelly free-kick was easily saved by Joe Hart that they took the lead. Taylor had plenty of time to slide in Furuhashi, who took a touch and thrashed the ball high past Hamilton at his near post from eight yards.

Celtic retained their grip on the game with lone striker Nouble cutting an isolated figure for the Lions. Furuhashi looked offside when he went through on goal again in the 22nd minute but stretching under pressure from Jack Fitzwater he knocked the ball over the bar.

As Celtic kept flooding forward, Forrest and Mooy both missed the target by inches with drives from the edge of the box. Hamilton parried a powerful long-distance drive from Taylor at the start of the second half but when he got another chance minutes later, after Mooy’s shot had been blocked, the Scotland defender returned a thunderbolt that fizzed through the keeper’s legs.

On the hour mark Hamilton carelessly misplaced a pass to Forrest but prevented the Scotland winger grabbing a third goal for the Parkhead side, who by then were completely in charge.

There was a VAR check when Jota’s cross hit the hands ofAndrew Shinnie and Willie Collum pointed to the spot after checking the monitor, but Giakoumakis struck the outside of the post with the spot-kick. Minutes later Jota converted a Turnbull cross to add the third.

Celtic’s hopes of qualifying for Europa League over after Shakhtar draw | Champions League

Celtic will not play in European football beyond the World Cup break after being held to a 1-1 home draw by Shakhtar Donetsk in the Champions League.

Giorgos Giakoumakis gave the hosts the lead at half-time but a brilliant finish from Mykhaylo Mudryk earned the visitors a point and made it 10 Champions League home games without a win for Celtic, a run which stretches back nine years. The result consigned Celtic to a bottom-placed finish in Group F ahead of their final game against the holders Real Madrid in Spain next week and blocked their escape route to the Europa League.

The Scottish champions did not quite create the quality of chances they had in earlier group games but Kyogo Furuhashi missed an excellent opportunity to put them back in front. However, the visitors subsequently produced a strong contender for miss of the season.

Celtic’s tally of one point and two goals from their opening four matches was scant reward for their attacking ambition and Ange Postecoglou was even bolder in his approach for their final home match in this season’s competition. The Celtic manager employed a 4-2-4 formation with Giakoumakis and Furuhashi starting together for only the second time.

Furuhashi dropped deep to engineer Celtic’s first shooting chance, which led to Giakoumakis hitting a first-time effort over from 25 yards. Shakhtar took the sting out of the game early on and Celtic needed some strong covering from Greg Taylor to stop the visitors’ main threat, Mudryk, dribbling through on Joe Hart.

Giakoumakis headed off target and Matt O’Riley curled wide from 20 yards but Celtic took the lead in the 34th minute through their first real opportunity. Sead Haksabanovic struggled to make set-pieces count in the first half but he made the difference by getting to the byline and driving in a low cross. Liel Abada’s effort was blocked and Giakoumakis turned the ball home from seven yards.

Celtic kept the pressure on and both O’Riley and Giakoumakis forced saves from long range. But the hosts had Hart to thank for going in ahead at half-time. Mudryk was played through by Lassina Traoré and the goalkeeper did well to narrow the angle and block the Ukraine winger’s shot with his chest.

Celtic's players show their disappointment after failing to claim victory
Celtic will finish bottom of their Champions League group after failing to win. Photograph: Robert Perry/EPA

Mudryk was at the heart of another chance for the visitors which ended with Oleksandr Zubkov sliding in to hit the side netting, and the 21-year-old soon did it all himself in the 58th minute.

Celtic lost the ball just inside the Shakhtar half and Mudryk was soon sprinting towards the home box. Mudryk cut inside and made space for himself to fire into the roof of the net from 20 yards.

Celtic had an excellent chance to swiftly regain the lead when Giakoumakis played in Furuhashi but the Japan forward scuffed a weak effort straight at the goalkeeper. The home side had a huge let-off following another blistering break from Mudryk, who squared for what looked like a certain goal for Danylo Sikan. But the substitute casually side-footed wide of an open goal from six yards.

O’Riley forced a decent stop from long range and stroked a first-time effort wide from 15 yards but Celtic were generally lacking in conviction in their passing around the Shakhtar box, despite some decent crosses from the substitute James Forrest. The visitors knew a point would be enough to give them the chance of a second-placed finish despite RB Leipzig’s win over Real Madrid and they soaked up some late pressure.

Celtic and Rangers losing time to challenge also-ran status in Europe | Football

It does not take much to irritate Ange Postecoglou. Even in these times of domestic harmony at Celtic, the manager rails against the tiniest of perceived slights. One wonders about Postecoglou’s demeanour were the going genuinely tough.

Nonetheless, in respect of typical European analysis, Postecoglou has a point. He objects to Celtic being placed alongside other Scottish clubs when it comes to a dreadful Champions League, Europa League or Europa Conference League season thus far. Postecoglou is correct to highlight cliche. Celtic have been considerably more competitive than their compatriots.

For those with an overarching interest in the Scottish game – and how it sits in broader context – these have been miserable times. Celtic begin this Champions League week with a single point from four matches. Rangers’ record is the worst in the competition, owing to a record of four defeats out of four and a goal difference of minus 15. Hearts are averaging three goals conceded a game in the Conference League. Motherwell were bundled out of Europe by Sligo Rovers. Dundee United seemed giddy at beating Alkmaar 1-0 in a Conference League qualifier and duly lost by seven in the Netherlands.

Those in high office celebrated the potential for Scottish teams to feature in Europe in such significant number, but what followed looks embarrassing. An improved co-efficient rating, recently a source of pride, has triggered carnage.

Bruges top their Champions League group. Dynamo Zagreb have collected four points and Maccabi Haifa sit on three. Copenhagen were obdurate enough to hold Manchester City.

The Old Firm have huge costs – Celtic’s was last reported at £90m – and supporter bases that leave many to believe they should be doing better. Under Steve Clarke, Scotland’s national team has found a way to punch at least equal to its weight. A scratch below the surface offers mitigating circumstance in the case of Celtic. Real Madrid were rocked for a half in Glasgow, with the width of the woodwork preventing Callum McGregor from handing the Scottish champions a lead they deserved.

But ‘coulda, woulda, shoulda’ counts for little at this level and in subsequent matches against Shakhtar Donestk and RB Leipzig Celtic’s wastefulness in front of goal denied them more than any sense they were out of their depth.

It is to Postecoglou’s credit that he appears to embrace the adversity. The manager wants Celtic to learn and benefit from playing in the Champions League, rather than throwing hands in the air and bemoaning an inability to joust with Europe’s best. The proof will be in that particular pudding but Postecoglou’s attitude is admirable.

Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah celebrates scoring in their 7-1 hammering of Rangers at Ibrox.
Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah celebrates scoring in their 7-1 hammering of Rangers at Ibrox. Photograph: Karl W Newton/SPP/Shutterstock

Rangers’ scenario is entirely different. It is also curious, given the run to the Europa League final last season that showed Giovanni van Bronckhorst’s team cared little for reputation. Maulings by Liverpool, Ajax and Napoli have highlighted shortcomings, but they have been visible at home, too.

Van Bronckhorst already looks to be sliding towards an exit from Ibrox, with supporters unconvinced by a dull and currently ineffectual brand of football. Rangers are a club devoid of on- and off-field confidence and while the blame for that can not be solely placed at the door of the manager he will inevitably pay the price.

Unlike Postecoglou, Van Bronckhorst has bemoaned the chasm between his players and their Champions League opponents. Even subliminally, that message must resonate in the dressing room.

It is undeniable Celtic and Rangers are far too obsessed with the pursuit of each other. There is precious little wider thought. Celtic missed a glorious opportunity to establish themselves as a credible European force when Rangers were consigned to the nether regions of the Scottish league. Yet the balance of power within European football, which sits squarely with the major leagues, arguably means Scottish sides are for ever destined to take on also-ran status. Even at their modern-day best, Celtic and Rangers are Europa League clubs stuck in the vortex of chasing Champions League paydays.

The fates of Motherwell, Dundee United and Hearts mean fans of other Scottish outfits can hardly laugh at that. A blunt reality may be that Scottish teams are not particularly good.

Celtic will hope to add a more reasonable complexion to their Champions League campaign by beating Shakhtar on Tuesday. Rangers, meanwhile, fear another long night against a rampant Napoli on Wednesday. Hearts should only be the narrow favourites to defeat Latvian opposition on Thursday.

It is quite the grim collective picture. If not, however, one that depicts precise circumstance.

Scottish Premiership: Taylor nicks thrilling 4-3 win for Celtic over Hearts | Scottish Premiership

Scottish football witnessed major VAR controversy in the system’s second game in use as Celtic edged a seven-goal thriller at Tynecastle. Hearts substitute Lawrence Shankland hit a hat-trick but was upstaged by the cinch Premiership leaders, who secured a 4-3 victory thanks to Greg Taylor’s 76th-minute winner.

James Forrest, Giorgos Giakoumakis and Daizen Maeda also netted as the lead changed hands several times. A pulsating match was also overshadowed by some hotly debated decisions involving the newly introduced video technology.

Decisions were confirmed by VAR checks during St Johnstone’s win over Hibernian on Friday, but the first intervention came in first-half stoppage time across Edinburgh when referee Nick Walsh was told to look again at Cameron Carter-Vickers’ challenge on Cammy Devlin by video assistant Steven McLean.

Walsh went to his monitor to watch footage which clearly showed Devlin got the ball before being brought down. Shankland netted from the spot to make it 1-1.

Moments later Celtic appealed for a penalty when the ball hit Michael Smith’s arm in the box after being flicked up by Forrest. Walsh again played on and, after a much shorter delay while McLean checked the footage, the game continued.

Smith had appeared to move his arm towards the ball and Celtic manager Ange Postecolgou could not believe the decision, laughing and clapping sarcastically.
There was an earlier contentious decision as Anthony Ralston put the ball in the Hearts net which VAR confirmed, and the video official ordered a retake of the home team’s second penalty of the day.

The tone for the game was set early. Barrie McKay saw a first-time effort saved by Joe Hart and Maeda was off target from a similar opportunity.

Celtic left-back Alexandro Bernabei gave the ball away on a number of occasions and one moment led to Robert Snodgrass waltzing through the Celtic defence only for Hart to come out and deny him.

Celtic went straight up the park and scored a 14th-minute opener. Ralston burst on to Reo Hatate’s inside pass and drove the ball into the goalmouth from the by-line. Craig Gordon looked like he would have gathered had Orestis Kiomourtzoglou not slid in to attempt to clear, and the ball spun up for Forrest to nod home.

The first significant delay to proceedings came after Walsh blew for a free-kick to Hearts just before Ralston dived to head home Aaron Mooy’s free-kick. Gordon was eventually allowed to take the free-kick by Walsh although there appeared little wrong when Giakoumakis collided with Kiomourtzoglou.

Hearts striker Stephen Humphrys was causing Celtic problems and threatened with two shots before going off injured in the 39th minute. Shankland came on.
The action continued at both ends. Hatate could not control the ball after being played in following an excellent Celtic move and Kiomourtzoglou headed just wide.
Shankland levelled from the spot three minutes into stoppage time and the drama did not let up after Celtic’s penalty claim was rejected.

The former Dundee United striker put the hosts in front 90 seconds after the restart when he turned home Ginnelly’s low cross from close range.
The action was relentless. Mooy missed a sitter and Devlin sliced wide before Forrest had a shot saved. Giakoumakis equalised when he headed home Mooy’s corner in the 55th minute.

Celtic were ahead four minutes later when Maeda raced in to net after Gordon palmed Mooy’s 22-yard strike.

Walsh gave Hearts’ second penalty immediately after Devlin beat Moritz Jenz to a cross. After a check, Shankland saw his effort saved by Hart and miskicked his follow-up but Ginnelly raced in to knock home.

VAR official McLean ordered a retake after the winger and Jenz were shown to be encroaching. Shankland lapped up the second chance to claim his hat-trick by sending Hart the wrong way in the 65th minute.

Postecoglou immediately sent on Sead Haksabanovic, Liel Abada and Taylor and the latter two combined to put Celtic back in front. The left-back burst into the six-yard box to stab home Abada’s deflected shot.

Abada was denied by Gordon and then the offside flag as Celtic saw out the dramatic win without any more scares.

Forrest scores hat-trick as majestic Celtic thrash Hibs to go five points clear | Scottish Premiership

James Forrest took his tally of Celtic goals to 100 with a hat-trick in the 6-1 Premiership hammering of Hibernian.

The 31-year-old Scotland winger has dropped down the pecking order at Celtic Park but in his first start of the season he scored either side of a Giorgos Giakoumakis strike to give the league leaders a commanding interval lead.

Half-time substitute Elie Youan pulled a goal back in the 56th minute for the visitors before Forrest, who came through the ranks at Celtic, completed his hat-trick two minutes later with further strikes from Giakoumakis and substitute Daizen Maeda underlining Celtic’s superiority.

James Forrest celebrates scoring his side’s fourth goal.
James Forrest celebrates scoring his side’s fourth goal. Photograph: Steve Welsh/PA

Ange Postecoglou’s men may be struggling for points in the Champions League – they have one after four group games – but they remain the team to beat domestically and they moved five points ahead of second-top Rangers who play Motherwell at Fir Park on Sunday.

Amid a hectic period of Celtic fixtures, Forrest, Giakoumakis, Anthony Ralston, Alexandro Bernabei and Aaron Mooy were all back in the side.

The typical early Celtic onslaught brought rewards in the eighth minute when Sead Haksabanovic’s cross from the left was met by Forrest and he knocked a volley back across former Celtic keeper David Marshall and in at the far post.

The Edinburgh side, with Harry McKirdy making his first start and veteran defender Lewis Stevenson back in the side, tried to respond but Celtic were in rampant mood and went further ahead in the 18th minute when Bernabei’s cross from the left was buried from 10 yards by Giakoumakis.

The third goal followed six minute later when Haksabanovic’s cut-back from the left ended up at the feet of Forrest, who took a touch and fired in a decent shot which Marshall saved, only to let it fumble out of his grasp and over the line. It was all over bar the scoreline.

Midfielder Reo Hatate had the ball in the Hibs net just before the break but the offside flag was already up while a penalty claim, when Hibs defender Ryan Porteous, challenged Giakoumakis inside the box was ignored by referee Steven McLean.

Lee Johnson, unimpressed by his side’s performance, made four interval changes with Rocky Bushiri, Marijan Cabraja, Kyle Magennis and Youan on for Chris Cadden, Stevenson, McKirdy and Mykola Kuharevich. Haksabanovic was replaced by Maeda which meant little respite for the visitors on the left flank.

However, seconds after Bushiri had blocked a goal-bound shot from Forrest, Hibs raced up the park with Martin Boyle playing in Youan to beat keeper Joe Hart at his near post with a powerful drive.

But any notions of a comeback were soon dispelled when Mooy took advantage of a Nohan Kenneh mistake in midfield to play in Forrest whose deflected strike from 16 yards sped high past Marshall.

Forrest was soon replaced by Liel Abada with Oliver Abildgaard on for Matt O’Riley.

Hibs came near on a couple of occasions – Boyle’s shot which went just past the post was especially close – before Abada’s cut-back found Giakoumakis who drove in off the post.

Substitute Kyogo Furuhashi, on for Hatate, rattled the Hibs post with a drive from just inside the box, and Marshall saved a one-on-one against Abada, before Maeda converted a Mooy cross for number six in the 89th minute, to seal a comprehensive win.

Celtic’s out of Champions League as Timo Werner leads RB Leipzig win | Champions League

Celtic continue to learn only harsh lessons in the Champions League. For the second game in succession, nobody could reasonably claim they were outplayed by RB Leipzig but the more ruthless team prevailed.

Timo Werner struck the initial blow to Ange Postecoglou and his team. Emil Forsberg added gloss to Leipzig’s victory. Celtic’s manager was short of integral resource and, contrary to cliche, it would be unfair to suggest his style was responsible for this result. Celtic are just finding games with the big boys tougher than they had imagined.

Nobody attended this fixture thinking they would witness anything approaching the mundane. Last week’s clash in Germany, which Leipzig won 3-1, was chaotically open. Defensive connoisseurs may have sniffed at that but it provided wonderful entertainment.

The sense of a rollercoaster ride was endorsed within seconds of kick-off, as Daizen Maeda flicked Reo Hatate’s cross narrowly over the bar. Leipzig responded via Dominik Szoboszlai, who volleyed just wide after David Raum’s excellent delivery.

Celtic’s desire to play on the front foot here was partly dictated by the fact they had precious little option. Oliver Abildgaard, a defensive midfielder signed for occasions such as these, was not deemed fit enough to start. Matt O’Riley and Hatate, who are both considerably more effective in the final third than the opening one, had to play as anchors. Leipzig spent the opening stages trying to expose Celtic’s forward-thinking instincts.

Instead, Celtic came the closer to an opening goal. O’Riley cracked a shot against a post from 20 yards, with Greg Taylor’s attempt from the rebound bouncing off the crossbar. Leipzig, initially so composed, had been creators of their own problems after Raum passed the ball straight out of play for a corner. As Kyogo Furuhashi headed narrowly over the visiting bar, Celtic Park believed this Champions League campaign had a pulse.

Celtic, already minus the influential Jota and their captain, Callum McGregor, owing to injury, watched Liel Abada limp off before the interval. Leipzig almost rubbed salt in the wound; Joe Hart produced a fine save to deny Chelsea-bound Christopher Nkunku.

Hart was called into action again within five minutes of the restart. After a spell in which Celtic failed time and again to clear their lines, the outstanding Amadou Haidara threaded a pass to Willi Orban. Hart smothered the centre-back’s low drive.

Celtic's Matt O'Riley covers his face in despair after the match
Celtic’s Matt O’Riley looks dejected after the defeat Photograph: Russell Cheyne/Reuters

News that Shakhtar Donetsk had taken the lead against Real Madrid seemed to fuel the desire of the Celtic support. Three points, desirable before a ball was kicked against Leipzig, suddenly felt a necessity.

Szoboszlai almost piled on the agony. In a bizarre, slow motion moment after being sent through on goal the Hungarian slipped on his backside. Celtic mopped up the danger as Szoboszlai clambered back to his feet with red face. It summed up Leipzig’s evening to that point, which had included only traces of menace with half an hour to play.

Postecoglou soon rolled the dice. Furuhashi and Hatate, ordinarily key players, were among three withdrawn. The arrival of Giorgos Giakoumakis suggested a more direct approach. This, at a time when Leipzig were beginning to tighten their grip on the game. Mohamed Simakan was next to endanger Hart’s goal, with a shot which flew high and wide of the goalkeeper’s upright.

Hart breathed a sigh of relief after VAR adjudged he had not upended Nkunku inside the penalty area. The forward’s pace in almost reaching nothing more than a hopeful pass was quite the sight, but he was looking for the spot-kick long before tumbling to the turf.

The brief flurry of controversy soon paled into insignificance. Werner, who had been quiet until that point, banged a header beyond Hart from an André Silva byline cut-back. It was a majestic goal.

O’Riley blasted a shot which stung the palms of Janis Blaswich. Giakoumakis fluffed his lines at the back post. Enter Forsberg, who made no mistake when concluding a sweeping counterattack. Werner had turned creator. Yet another moment of brilliance summed up the difference between the two sides. Celtic must focus on the domestic front.

Ange Postecoglou and Celtic need to break cycle of European failure | Celtic

We are three weeks shy of the anniversary of a famous Celtic triumph. On 7 November 2012, Barcelona – Messi, Iniesta, Xavi et al – were vanquished 2-1 in Glasgow’s east end. Celtic were marching towards the last 16 of the Champions League with Miku, a loanee striker from Getafe, plus a centre-back pairing of Efe Ambrose and Kelvin Wilson. It was a special occasion that turned heads across Europe.

The intervening years have witnessed a cycle Ange Postecoglou must try to break. Including for the good of his own career. There has been the odd high point – successive Europa League wins over Lazio in 2019, for example – but Celtic’s dominance in Scotland has been tempered by also-ran status in Europe. Knockout defeats have come against AEK Athens, Ferencvaros, Malmo, Cluj, Maribor and Bodø/Glimt.

It would be unfair to place troubles of the past at Postecoglou’s door. His own record in European competition reads: played 17, won six, drawn two and lost nine. Celtic have scored 28 times in Europe on his watch while conceding 34. While the strength of Real Madrid and Bayer Leverkusen is a contextual factor, so, too, is the weakness of Jabonlec, who Celtic beat 7-2 on aggregate last season.

Postecoglou is due huge credit for re-establishing Celtic as the strongest force in Scotland but the ambitions of manager or club cannot end there. This is a business that recently reported operating expenses of £91.7m against revenue of £88.2m. Celtic can hardly plead poverty. Wild celebration greeted a stoppage-time winner at St Johnstone on Saturday; notched by a player bought for roughly the entire first-team wage budget of the opposition.

Celtic have suffered before through over-emphasis on Scotland rather than the kind of football world they briefly sampled when Barça were seen off. Titles and trebles? Lapped up without cognisance of a bigger picture.

The visit of RB Leipzig to Celtic Park on Tuesday is therefore hugely significant. Celtic had opportunity to win the corresponding fixture in Germany last week before the lethal – and not uncharacteristic – concoction of missed chances and comedy defending was seized upon. Celtic should definitely have defeated Shakhtar Donetsk but did at least emerge with a score draw. Real Madrid swaggered to a 3-0 win in Glasgow but were rattled for a half when Celtic displayed the best version of themselves.

Celtic’s Wanyama celebrates scoring against Barcelona in the memorable win in 2012.
Celtic’s Wanyama celebrates scoring against Barcelona in the memorable win in 2012. Photograph: David Moir/Reuters

Postecoglou needs to use this week to kickstart not only his Champions League campaign. Since breezing past Rangers in early September, Celtic have slipped to defeat at St Mirren before unconvincing wins over Motherwell and St Johnstone. Yes, they remain top of the tree in Scotland and the clear favourites to retain the title, but there is a current sloppiness to their play.

Brendan Rodgers, successful and revered at Celtic – until he accepted the overtures of Leicester – was widely criticised for failure to implement a Plan B in European football. Celtic suffered some especially harrowing nights, albeit against top-level teams, with him in charge. Postecoglou has to be mindful of falling into the same trap. The fatigue that hits his players midway through the second half of games is far more likely to be seized upon at this level.

The openness Celtic display can be riveting, but when forwards are profligate it creates stress for defenders. Celtic concede far too many European goals. Having rose petals thrown at feet in Scotland is one thing, but Postecoglou would raise his profile in loftier circles should he make Celtic anything close to a force in Europe once again. This shouldn’t be out of the question if the club has appropriate strategy.

The Australian’s future is relevant. At 57, after a somewhat itinerant career, this marks his first major role in Europe. Just as it would be bizarre to suggest the ambitions of Reo Hatate, Jota, Kyogo Furuhashi or Josip Juranovic end with the Scottish top-flight, Postecoglou should have a broader plan. Not that he is likely to receive his current level of control elsewhere. Celtic still have no director of football, essentially because their manager does not want one. Try selling that to a major club in England or Spain.

Rodgers and Steven Gerrard were afforded straightforward switches from Glasgow to the Premier League because of existing reputation in England. Neil Lennon defeated Barça and ended up in Bolton. Alex McLeish departed Rangers in 2006 after a generally successful spell but found no takers south of the border. Earlier, Walter Smith’s best offer came from then-struggling Everton. While he is known to the City Football Group, having previously coached Yokahama Marinos, Postecoglou may need European scalps to boost his own standing before the inevitable point where he grows bored with Scottish football’s two-horse tedium.

Defeating Leipzig would boost brand Ange and create fresh respect for Celtic. The latter is well overdue.

Giorgos Giakoumakis snatches Celtic winner amid late drama at St Johnstone | Scottish Premiership

Giorgos Giakoumakis scored the winner for Celtic in a dramatic finale against St Johnstone.

Alex Mitchell scored a stoppage-time equaliser for St Johnstone to cancel out Andrew Considine’s 42nd-minute own goal and Celtic looked set to drop points for the second consecutive away match in the league. But Giakoumakis turned home Alexandro Bernabei’s cross in the fifth minute of time added on to earn Celtic a 2-1 win and consolidate their position at the top of the table.

Celtic were beginning an extended spell without their captain, Callum McGregor, in the starting team after he suffered a knee injury in the midweek Champions League defeat by RB Leipzig. Already suspended, McGregor does not need surgery on a knee injury but looks unlikely to feature before the World Cup.

“Initial reports are that the break probably helps us a little bit,” Ange Postecoglou said. “He will miss three or four weeks, which is a fair amount of football, but the good thing is he will be raring to go when the season resumes, and that will be a massive bonus for us.”

Matt O’Riley was the surprise choice to fill the void at the base of midfield, with Reo Hatate and Sead Haksabanovic ahead of him. Postecoglou made six changes in all from the team that started in Germany.

Haksabanovic got away from his marker to receive Hatate’s pass and drove the ball into the goalmouth, where Considine turned it into his own net at the near post and Giakoumakis was flagged offside as he headed home O’Riley’s free-kick shortly after half-time.

Daizen Maeda, a half-time substitute for Jota, then made a mess of an overhead kick as Liel Abada looked set to head home from close range. Abada soon had two chances but could not beat Remi Matthews.

Celtic fans celebrate with Giorgos Giakoumakis at McDiarmid Park.
Celtic fans celebrate with Giorgos Giakoumakis at McDiarmid Park. Photograph: Jeff Holmes/PA

Celtic were almost made to pay midway through the half when Stevie May got in behind moments after coming off the bench. Hart got down brilliantly to turn the striker’s shot on to the post. Celtic were unable to find the clinical touch and Maeda was flagged after getting in front of the onside-looking Giakoumakis to convert Anthony Ralston’s through ball with three minutes left.

Saints went up the park and nearly equalised. May’s cross went all the way through to his fellow substitute Connor McLennan but he blazed over after chesting the ball down. The hosts continued to push for an equaliser and it came three minutes into added time when Mitchell brought down Ali Crawford’s free-kick and stroked home from six yards.

Celtic were not finished. Bernabei got down the left wing after Saints’ wing-back Drey Wright appeared to pull a muscle and Bernabei delivered a perfect cross for Giakoumakis to bundle home from close range.

Quick Guide

Colak at the double in Rangers cruise


Antonio Colak resumed his remarkable scoring record with another double in Rangers‘ 4-0 win over St Mirren at Ibrox. Reinstated at the expense of Alfredo Morelos, Colak pounced in the fourth minute before skipper James Tavernier doubled that advantage with a penalty on the half-hour mark. Colak confidently fired in a third in the 73rd minute to take his tally to 13 in the last 14 appearances and Fashion Sakala added a fourth in added time. Giovanni van Bronckhorst’s side moved back to within two points of Celtic at the top of the table ahead of the second part of their Euro double-header against Liverpool. Elsewhere in the Scottish Premiership, Ryan Porteous gave Hibernian a 1-0 home win over Motherwell to lift his side up to third and Ross County recorded a much-needed 1-0 win at Livingston thanks to Owura Edwards’s strike in the second half. Agencies

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Postecoglou said: “You can win a game of football many ways but winning it this way also provides some confidence in the fact that we still have that character and resilience in the group.”

St Johnstone’s manager, Callum Davidson, admitted he dared not celebrate after Mitchell equalised but was disappointed in the winner. Davidson said:

“The last couple of minutes we have to defend better. Drey obviously rolls his ankle but we have to switch on to that. I thought we stopped a little bit and it’s a hard lesson to take.