Celtic's UEFA Youth League campaign draws to conclusion with defeat

By Lewis Laird

November 2, 2022

Celtic’s UEFA Youth League campaign came to an unfortunate end this afternoon as they suffered a 4-1 loss to Real Madrid.

Alongside Ange Postecoglou’s side, the Bhoys under-19s team have also been involved in European action since September.

The side managed by Darren O’Dea and Stephen McManus faced off against the same opponents – Real Madrid, RB Leipzig and Shakhtar Donetsk – in the hope of advancing for their group stage campaign.

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After five matchdays, similar to the first team, the youngsters found themselves eliminated from the competition, sitting bottom on three points.

Their only victory came on matchday three, picking up a fantastic win over RB Leipzig in Germany. But they couldn’t build upon that result.

The group stages of the competition came to a close this afternoon, with the Bhoys travelling to Madrid to take on the world-class academy side.

Despite the disappointment of their previous fixtures, the young Hoops would have been hoping to end their campaign on a high in an extremely difficult test against Real Madrid.

The last time the two sides faced in September, a 10-man Celtic side fell to a 6-0 loss in Airdrie. So, they would have been looking to showcase their credentials this afternoon.

However, the match couldn’t have gotten off to a worse start for Celtic after conceding the opening goal of the game just 10 seconds in.

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Things went from bad to worse for the Hoops, as they found themselves two goals down just seven minutes later, thanks to a fantastic strike by Yeray Perez.

It looked like it was going to be a long afternoon for the Celtic backline and, in particular, goalkeeper Tobi Oluwayemi, who produced some fantastic saves to keep the score down.

However, the Lennoxtown hopefuls bounced back from a poor start, pulling a goal back to make it 2-1 through Adam Brooks, following some nice build-up play down the right by Ben McPherson and Rocco Vata.

But just before the half-hour mark, Madrid were able to open up their two-goal advantage once again as Spanish youngster Pol Fortuny was sent through on goal, tucking the ball nicely past Oluwayemi.

After the break, the Celtic coaching duo made a slight tactical tweak, which kept the dominant Real Madrid at bay for the majority of the second half.

However, around ten minutes from time, the Spanish giants added their fourth of the game, with Nicolas Martinez producing a superb, low-driven strike into the bottom corner from outside of the penalty area.

Celtic’s best chance to pull another goal back came in the dying moments of the game as both Adam Brooks and Rocco Vata missed guilt edge chances.

But it wasn’t to be for Celtic as they lost out 4-1 to Real Madrid and concluded the group, finishing in 4th position.

Celtic’s UEFA Youth League comes to a disappointing end, but plenty of lessons to be learned from experience.

Ultimately, the youngster’s UEFA Youth League campaign came to a disappointing end following a dominant 4-1 defeat to Los Blancos.

Although there were many frustrations throughout, the main highlight of the campaign will undoubtedly be the Bhoys’ 2-1 victory over Leipzig in Germany.

On that day, they showcased just how they can compete against some of Europe’s top academy sides. But unfortunately, that wasn’t on show for the entire group stage.

Photo by Valentin Flauraud – UEFA/UEFA via Getty Images

The youngsters are bound to be disappointed, too, suffering another heavy defeat to the Spaniards. However, there will be plenty of important lessons learned for these prospects about what it takes to perform at this level.

Here’s hoping we can see how much the Hoops have learned from this campaign if some members of the squad are able to return to the UEFA Youth League competition alongside the first team’s qualification next season.

For now, though, Celtic’s focus will go to the Lowland League and English Premier League International Cup as they look to continue their development as part of the B side.

In other news, VAR fall-out persists as Tony Watt appeal ruling confirmed ahead of Celtic.