Celtic twice lose lead but claim first Champions League point against Atletico

By Sports Desk October 25, 2023

Celtic twice lost a lead as they gained their first Champions League point in a 2-2 home draw with 10-man Atletico Madrid.

Kyogo Furuhashi got Celtic off to a flying start with his second goal in two Champions League games and Luis Palma quickly restored Celtic’s lead after Antoine Griezmann scored following his own saved penalty.

Celtic were deservedly on course for a first Champions League group-stage home win in 10 years following a first-half display full of pace and purpose but they started slowly after the break and Alvaro Morata levelled inside eight minutes of the restart.

The Scottish champions never rediscovered their spark – even after Atletico went down to 10 men in the 82nd minute – and their run without a home win at this level is now at 12 games.

Feyenoord’s win over Lazio left Celtic three points adrift of the Italians at the bottom of Group E, halfway through the campaign with trips to Spain and Rome to follow.

The build-up to the game had been dominated by internal and external strife.

Thousands of Celtic fans defied the club before kick-off by displaying Palestine flags, an act which will inevitably lead to UEFA sanctions.

Atletico’s decision to dispense with their striped shirts and wear an all-red top based on the one worn by the team that beat Celtic in the 1974 European Cup semi-finals also opened old wounds.

Two of the team that gained a goalless first-leg draw at Parkhead had travelled with the current side but the tribute did not go down well among the Celtic support given Atletico had three men sent off and seven others booked in that brutal encounter.

Furuhashi ignited the highly-charged atmosphere inside four minutes following a one-touch move. The Japan international twice exchanged passes with Matt O’Riley before taking a touch and slotting home from six yards.

There was a blow for Brendan Rodgers moments later when Reo Hatate went off injured. The Celtic manager brought on 21-year-old midfielder Paulo Bernardo, who is yet to start a game since his loan move from Benfica.

The home side remained positive, roared on by the crowd as they pressed Atletico high up the park, but the visitors levelled in the 25th minute after Greg Taylor was penalised for a trip on Nahuel Molina.

Joe Hart saved Griezmann’s penalty at full stretch but the France international dispatched the rebound.

Taylor atoned three minutes later when he played a searching ball beyond right-back Molina which sent Daizen Maeda in behind. The resulting cross found fellow winger Palma and the Honduran took a touch and rifled a shot in off the post.

Palma had been denied a late goal against Lazio three weeks ago by a marginal VAR ruling and an offside decision soon went Celtic’s way after Axel Witsel headed home from a set-piece.

O’Riley had earlier threatened with a first-time strike which was met with a diving save as Celtic continued to attack with verve.

Diego Simeone made two half-time changes and substitute Marcos Llorente vindicated his introduction within eight minutes as he crossed for Morata to equalise with a diving header.

Morata and Llorente both threatened and Rodgers responded by bringing on centre-back Nat Phillips for Palma and changing formation.

Atletico continued to boss possession and Celtic were contributing to their difficulties with some slack passing. Hart saved well from Morata after the Spain international turned Cameron Carter-Vickers.

Celtic got a lifeline when Argentinian midfielder Rodrigo de Paul received a second yellow card following a sliding tackle on Bernardo.

Substitute James Forrest shot not far over but Celtic could not seriously trouble the 10 men.

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