Real Madrid 5 Celtic 1: Contrast with Rangers as fans salute team’s performance in Madrid despite heavy defeat
CELTIC Bernabeud out of the Champions League.
Despite losing heavily to Los Blancos, Ange Postecoglou’s men were saluted by their supporters.
Real Madrid swept Scotland’s champions aside with a five-goal Euro lesson.
Yet Jota’s late free-kick saw the campaign somehow end on a high.
It was the final strike of the night after Luka Modric, Rodrygo, Marco Asensio, Vinicious Junior and Federico Valverde had all scored for the reigning Euro champions.
And incredibly enough to send the travelling supporters home happy.
This European campaign may have ended prematurely after six group games just like their rivals’ across the city – with another crushing defeat.
Yet the difference in reaction from the stands is night and day.
There is no inquest going on at Celtic Park as to why they fell short, no finger-pointing at the manager or his board for poor recruitment.
The feeling is that this could easily have turned out differently.
Most read in Champions League
That’s why the supporters who got bucket-list tickets for this final fixture applauded their team off the pitch at time up,
The game itself didn’t matter.
Yet to those fans just being here most certainly did.
They accepted it was always going to be a huge ask just to compete against this level of opposition in their own backyard.
Especially with key men missing.
Being without Cameron Carter-Vickers was a massive loss.
Carl Starfelt hadn’t played for two months, since he picked up a knee injury against Rangers back in September.
To say the centre-back was thrown back in at the deep end was an understatement.
The absence of skipper Callum McGregor was another miss given his talent at maintaining possession under pressure.
Would they have made any difference? No.
Madrid’s class was there for all to see as they got the victory they needed to top the group.
Yet everything that could have gone against Celtic did go against them.
Three penalties were awarded in the first-half by French referee Stephanie Frappart – Real scored two and Celtic missed one.
The first was given against Moritz Jenz when he slapped the ball with his arm inside the box. He could have no complaints.
Up stepped Luka Modric to fire Real ahead with only six minutes on the clock.
The second spot-kick came inside 20 minutes.
This time Matt O’Riley was adjudged to have handled the ball to block a shot from Rodrygo.
It was initially missed by the female whistler – in only her second Champions League game – before VAR intervened.
And it seemed harsh on the midfielder who was also booked.
But Rodrygo grabbed the opportunity to make it 2-0 by sending Joe Hart the wrong way.
It was tough on Celtic.
They actually had big moments to score in the first-half.
Kyogo could have had a double himself had he been more clinical inside the box.
It was just so typical of Celtic’s Euro run.
The real lifeline came in 34 minutes, though, when Liel Abada was brought down inside the penalty area by defender Ferland Mendy.
The ref awarded another spot-kick and Juranovic stepped up with the chance to pull one back for Celts.
The Croatian just lacked the conviction to beat giant keeper Thibaut Courtois who threw himself to his right to make a sensational save.
As they sat in the away changing room at the break Celtic’s players must have worried that things could get ugly if they weren’t careful.
For all they’d had their moments they were also lucky Real hadn’t scored more themselves.
Unfortunately it was only a matter of time before the La Liga megastars were celebrating again.
Celtic’s defending at the third goal wasn’t good enough either as Dani Carvajal cut a ball back from the touchline for Asensio.
No-one in green tracked his run and with space to pick his spot he blasted past Hart.
Real now had their tails up.
They made it 4-0 on the hour mark, Starfelt beaten to the ball by Vinicius Junior who finished brilliantly past Hart to get the goal his overall play deserved.
It was now a damage limitation exercise for Celtic.
But Postecoglou refused to shut up shop.
Subs Giorgos Giakoumakis and David Turnbull were thrown in and both had shots on target which Courtois saved comfortably.
But soon Real were racing upfield and scoring their fifth.
Hart could do nothing to prevent Federico Valverde’s shots from flying past him with the defending in front of him doing him no favours whatsoever.
Still with 20 minutes to go Celtic had lurched into embarrassing territory with Real looking likely to score every time they went forward.
The introduction of a certain Karim Benzema off the bench didn’t make life easier for Celtic either.
Yet it was the away fans who were next up off their feet.
In 84 minutes Jota sensed an opportunity with a free-kick and whipped a tremendous shot past Courtois.
It was nothing more than a consolation but one that meant there world to the Portuguese and the supporters who travelled to Madrid.
Keep up to date with ALL the latest news and transfers at the Scottish Sun football page
Comments are closed.