Celtic failed in their latest Champions League campaign Wednesday, going down 2-1 after extra-time at Denmark’s Midtjylland as the Scots crashed out in the second round of qualifying 3-2 on aggregate.
Celtic, the first British club ever to be crowned European champions in 1967, getting in a year ahead of Manchester United, had only themselves to blame as they squandered the lead to drop into the far less lucrative Europa League, where they will now take on Czech side Jablonec.
Callum McGregor fired in a scorcher to give them hope, volleying home following a corner to put Celtic ahead three minutes after half-time.
Watch LIVE coverage of The 2021/22 Scottish Premier League with beIN SPORTS on Kayo. New to Kayo? Try 14-Days Free Now >
James Forrest should then have all but killed the tie, only to fluff a gilt-edged chance for the visitors just after coming on.
The Glaswegians, under their new Australian coach Ange Postecoglou, lived to regret that as Midtjylland drew level just after the hour as Awer Mabil, with 17 Australia caps to his credit, headed beyond keeper Scott Bain.
Celtic promptly fell behind on the night and on aggregate four minutes into the first period of extra-time, Raphael Onyedika firing home from close range amid confusion in the Celtic defence after a freekick routine.
The reaction was fierce post-game but in defence of Postecoglou.
“No surprise Celtic going out,” ex-Celtic player Chris Sutton tweeted.
“Ange Postecoglou has been dealt the worst hand of any Celtic manager in the last 20 years. The powers that be should be ashamed of dealing him this hand.
“Years of acting too slow and bringing in players too late but this season is something else.”
Speaking on Premier Sports, Sutton was adamant none of the blame should be placed on Postecoglou.
“Dominic McKay should be phoning up Ange Postecglou and apologising,” he said.
“This is on the board and not the manager”
John Hartson, meanwhile, warned that a return towards consistent success will not come quickly.
“Celtic are in a massive transition,” he said on Premier Sports.
“It’s going to take, for me, two years to get back on track.”
“It’s a huge blow but I think you’ll find a huge number of Celtic supporters who won’t be surprised,” Sky Sports expert Andy Walker said.
“The lack of preparation for season-defining games has left the new manager cruelly exposed.”
The loss was described as a “catastrophe” but Postecoglou hit back in an interview with BBC, declaring: “This is far from the end”.
“It’s pretty strong language mate, I don’t know what your version of catastrophic is but it certainly doesn’t fit my definition of what happened tonight,” he said.
“This is obviously a disappointing night, disappointing we didn’t get through, I can’t fault the effort of the players, I think they worked their socks off, we controlled the game.
“We scored and then had a good chance to go 2-0 up and then straight away they scored and we lost a bit of momentum.
“No, catastrophic to me means the end. This is far from the end.
“You are suggesting this is a club falling apart and our season is finished, I don’t see it that way.
“Yes, it’s absolutely disappointing, Champions League football is a priority but I can’t ask any more of the players.
“We have our league campaign starting on Saturday.
“Blame? We don’t blame people, I take responsibility, the responsibility is mine.
“You are using really strong language for something I don’t think merits that sort of view.”
The Danes now go on to face experienced Dutch outfit PSV Eindhoven, who won 2-1 away at Turkey’s Galatasaray for a 7-2 aggregate success, in the third qualifying round.