Celtic are out of the Champions League for another season after a devastating defeat to CFR Cluj.
Neil Lennon’s men got over an abject first-half display to put themselves within ten minutes of the Playoff round. James Forrest, Odsonne Edouard and Ryan Christie all netted on the night but it wasn’t enough as the Romanians scored four of their own to win the tie 5-4 on aggregate.
It is now the Europa League for Celtic where they will face either Sheriff or AIK Stockholm. The latter lead 2-1 from the first leg.
Here’s how we rated the Celtic team on a sobering night.
Scott Bain – 3
The goalkeeper should have done far better with Cluj’s third of the evening. He parried the shot from distance right into the path of the Romanian forward who battered the ball into the net high above him. Also didn’t cover himself in glory trying to save the visitor’s penalty.
Hatem Abd Elhamed – 5
The Israeli defender put in a decent shift on the right-hand-side. His passing was sloppy on occasion but the made up for that with some good challenges and strong running. He does perhaps lack an element of creativity.
Kristoffer Ajer – 4
The big defender didn’t ever really inspire confidence with his clearances often not quite doing the job. He’s far from the reason for Celtic’s failings, however conceding four goals at home doesn’t reflect well on any defender.
Jozo Simunovic – 3
The giant centre-back looked rusty from the start of the match and failed to find his feet at any point. Jozo looked sloppy in possession and it’s a wonder his teammates kept giving him the ball. A pretty poor night.
Callum McGregor – 5
Celtic’s Mr. Dependable didn’t seem to enjoy playing as a left-back. It was perhaps unfair of Lennon to put him in that position but he was culpable for Cluj’s opener. Did earn some respect for a better second-half display as Celtic motored forward.
Scott Brown – 3
Gave away a pretty idiotic penalty that summed up a below par display. Brown looked off the pace for a lot of the match and that will be concerning ahead of another long season.
Olivier Ntcham – 5
Ntcham started the game pretty well – finding gaps in the midfield and threading some neat passes. His influence on the match decreased as the minutes rolled by, to the extent that he was an obvious candidate to make way when Leigh Griffiths came on.
James Forrest – 6
The winger was one of Celtic’s best attacking outlets on an otherwise frustrating night. He took his goal terrifically well but could perhaps have done more with a few other opportunities (especially in the first-half).
Ryan Christie – 5
Celtic’s star man so far this season was quieter than usual but still leapt to the rescue when his team needed him most. Christie’s goal was a typical finish. Sadly it wasn’t the winner.
Mikey Johnston – 4
The young winger struggled badly to put his stamp on the game. His touch was a little off and his running was well thwarted by the Romanians. This will act as a reminder that he still has a long way to go at that level.
Odsonne Edouard – 7
The prolific Frenchman put in a pretty decent display as the lone striker. His dummy for the first goal was sublime and his finish for the second was deadly. Didn’t really deserve to be on the losing team.
Leigh Griffiths (4) had Celtic’s best chance in the closing stages but fluffed his lines. Vakoun Issouf Bayo (4) didn’t have any opportunity to put his stamp on the game.