Brave Celtic FC Women fall to experience of Levante in Champions League
It was never going to be easy for Celtic against Levante in Champions League qualifying [UEFA], and so it proved.
Despite a continued and aggressive effort to defend their goal, Fran Alonso’s side came unstuck in the Koteng Arena. With such a quality side up against them, it was a valiant and determined showing from the Ghirls, alas, to no avail.
Early pressure from Levante nearly showed. Had it not been for Chloe Logan, Levante would’ve gone ahead with a penalty on the 30th minute. Before that point, Celtic had a good chance through Olafsdottir Gros one-one-one, but she screwed her shot just wide.
The Spanish side kept the pressure on, and it showed on 37 minutes. Toletti slotted home with a tidy finish, making a difficult job harder for Alonso’s side.
Levante overcome plucky Celtic side in Champions League qualifier
Celtic started the second half in determined form. Some smart movement in midfield showed encouraging signs, but Levante’s relentless pressure off the ball proved hard to contain.
Perhaps against the run of play, though, Levante found a second. This time Redondo Ferrer applied the finish to make it 2-0.
But then, some redemption. Caitlin Hayes scored a strange goal, a long shot, assisted by the wind, which caught Lopez Valenzuela completely off guard. Just over an hour, and the Ghirls were right back in it.
The second goal perked Celtic to no end. After some excellent movement on the wings, Hayes nearly scored a second. The defender threw caution to the wind throughout, getting into goal-scoring positions.
Izzy Atkinson won a free kick in a dangerous area in stoppage time, that went just wide. Levante were being pressured into conceding cheap fouls, but Celtic just couldn’t capitalise.
Unfortunately, the Ghirls just couldn’t find an equaliser. The experience of Levante showed, with the Spanish side providing the kind of Champions League test Alonso probably wanted to avoid.
Ultimately, though, this can only be a good thing in the long-term. Celtic will face sides a tenth as good as Levante, and be equipped to handle them. Giving any kind of opposition a right go at Champions League level is the kind of experience players crave.
On the day, Celtic acted like they’d been before, but Levante have been here before. That showed, but by no means did the Ghirls disgrace themselves here.