Celtic welcomed CFR Cluj at Celtic Park with Champions League qualification hanging in the balance after the first leg between the two sides ending 1-1 in Romania. But a disastrous 4-3 loss at home saw the Scottish Champions crash into the Europa League.
A goalless draw would have been enough to see the Scottish champions through to the play-off round of the Champions League but that plan went out of the window in the 27th window went the Romanians look a shock lead through a Deac header that found its way past Scott Bain. It cannot be said that it was unexpected though considering Cluj had started the brighter of the two sides as Celtic failed to find a footing in the game in the first half.
It looked though like they were going to pull off a famous European come back in the second half when they went 2-1 up through goals from Forrest and Edouard. But then it all started to fall for the men in hoops.
First, Scott Brown gave away an awful penalty when it look like Celtic were in control. And Cluj converted although Bain should’ve saved the weak effort. But again it looked like the Hoops had managed to pull off a miracle after they went ahead just 2 minutes later through Ryan Christie.
But then things well and truly fell apart for Celtic. Bain couldn’t hold on to an effort from outside the box and parried it straight to Omrani who made no mistake and converted the golden opportunity. Cluj then added a fourth deep into added time as Celtic went desperately in search for the winner, sending them crashing out of the Champions League qualification process.
Here’s how we rated the players from the disaster at Celtic Park:
Scott Bain – 2
Awful on the night. Looked a disaster waiting to happen all night long. Made a mess of a simple ball that led to the corner where Scott Brown gave the penalty away. Then failed to save a weak effort despite guessing right and getting a hand to it.
Again made a mess in the 80th minute of a long range effort and parried the ball straight to Omrani for Cluj’s third. Never looked like he was going to make a decent save on the night and might have just lost his place to Gordon.
Hatem Abd Elhamed – 4
Looked very sloppy early as he gave the ball away a number of times. Grew into the game though and improved drastically with the ball at his feet as the game went on. It was his cross that led to Edouard poaching in the second goal. Not the best night on the other side of the pitch though.
Kris Ajer – 3
Celtic fans must have been depending on him to put in a great performance tonight and it is safe to say he let them down. He has been brilliant as of late but was shaky at best as Cluj put four past the Hoops at home.
Jozo Simunovic – 3
Had an off-night just like his Norwegian partner. None of the Celtic back-four managed to put in a solid display on the night and it was no different for Simunovic. Looked off the pace from the very beginning when he misplaced a couple of simple passes and that set the tone for the night that was to follow.
Callum McGregor – 5
Hard to blame him too much as he was inexplicably played at left-back. Tried his best but just could not get things going in the first half. Improved a lot after the break with more freedom to go forward and was one of the main reasons for the Celtic mini-comeback. Brilliant assist for Forrest’s equaliser and almost got himself on the scoresheet a couple of times as well but et down by his finishing.