It was very sad to see Celtic lose 3-0 to Juventus last night in the first leg of their Champions League match. They were outplayed, out classed, out muscled and out thought. Sadly for the players and their manager, instead of basking in the glory of getting to the last sixteen of Europe’s premier knock out competition (for only the second time in their history), the headlines this morning highlighted where it all went wrong – the top 5:
1. The battle between Gary Hooper (Celtic) and Stephan Lichsteiner (Juventus) at every corner, was something normally associated with rugby than soccer. While the referee booked both players he denied Celtic the penalty they deserved for the mauling of their player.
2. Celtic Manager Neil Lennon chose to put Efe Ambrose in his starting eleven. Ambrose, the Nigerian defender, only arrived back in Glasgow the morning of the match after playing in the final at the African Cup of Nations on Sunday. Ambroses’ awful mistake lead to Juventus scoring in the 3rd minute, missed Celtics best chance of the night – a free header from six yards out and then lost procession allowing Juventus to score a third goal. Perhaps he had jet-lag after all.
3. Celtic could not contain Europe’s best midfield and did not have enough fire power up front to trouble the Italians sides defense.
4. The referees handling of the game cost Celtic dear – Kris Commons told BBC Scotland -“Gary Hooper was pulled down to the ground on far too many occasions and we got no rewards. You’ve got a referee there, a guy behind the goal, a linesman – the whole idea of the official behind the goal is to look out for this sort of stuff”.
5. Class beat determination. The Italians did not have many chances, but the chances they did have they took and made Celtic pay.
For Celtic, ‘The Bhoys’ were bold and determined in their approach, against a team with arguably the best midfield in Europe. The manager tactics were right, however the execution by the players lead to the teams demise. They had deserved so much more, and the team will now travel to Turing for the second leg, hoping the result doesn’t turn into a rout for the brave team from Glasgow.