Monday, December 5, 2022

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Celtic’s Champions League hopes end with Leipzig defeat

Celtic’s Champions League hopes ended on Tuesday night after RB Leipzig scored two late goals at Parkhead.

Former Chelsea striker Timo Werner headed the opener in the 75th minute and Emil Forsberg sealed a 2-0 away win nine minutes later.

The defeat leaves Celtic bottom of Group F with a point from four games and no chance of a second place after Shakhtar Donetsk’s draw with Real Madrid in Warsaw.

The Scottish champions can still finish third but would need to beat Shakhtar and then get a result at the Bernabeu – and for that he would need to develop a far more clinical lead.

They again had the better chances in the first half, but twice hit the frame of the goal and missed several good header chances before the visitors upped their offensive threat.

Celtic were missing the injured Jota and another winger, Liel Abada, lost through injury three minutes before the break.

The theme of their European campaign continued within 60 seconds as Daizen squandered Maeda’s glorious opportunity as he bent down to head Abada’s cross from four yards wide.

However, Leipzig soon took the edge off the game with long phases of possession and Dominik Szoboszlai deflected a deep cross from David Raum over the opposing post from a good opening.

Celtic needed good blocks from Matt O’Riley – who was back in a deep midfield role – and Moritz Jenz after struggling at the break.

After half-time, the hosts came alive. Greg Taylor and Sead Haksabanovic caused panic with balls from the left, but Jenz then headed over his corner.

Leipzig had a big let-off when O’Riley hit the post from a short corner from 25 yards and Taylor scraped the rebound off the bar before Maeda headed wide.

Kyogo Furuhashi then missed a great chance, sending a free header over the bar after a spot-on cross from Haksabanovic from 12 yards out.

Abada came on for James Forrest after suffering a knee injury following a fair tackle from space.

Leipzig ended the halftime well. Raum hit the bar with a cross, Joe Hart footed off Christopher Nkunku and Willi Orban deflected a free header from the resulting corner.

Hart made a better stop from Orban early in the second half and Furuhashi couldn’t make the most of Forrest’s good setup play at the other end.

Celtic lived dangerously. Jenz and Cameron Carter-Vickers made some key interventions and O’Riley chased back to make an excellent sliding tackle – and they also had some luck when Szoboszlai slipped in the box after Reo Hatate lost the ball to his defence to be outnumbered.

Leipzig had the better chances in the second half. Right-back Mohamed Simakan and Nkunku missed from good chances before Hart saved from the latter.

Mid-half Celtic made a treble when David Turnbull, Aaron Mooy and Giorgos Giakoumakis came on and they soon had a chance when the Australian cut the ball back for Maeda. However, the Japanese attacker had a frustrating night with the ball, deflecting wide for the first time.

The breakthrough came on the other side after Leipzig worked the ball down the left side. Andre Silva got to the bye line and shortened it so Werner could go home.

Celtic threatened to equalize but O’Riley saw a shot away and Giakoumakis headed Forrest’s cross wide from close range.

They had to pay for the last miss as this time Werner came down the left channel to find Forsberg the top corner.

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