Postecoglou fears come true as Celtic are outclassed



Ange Postecoglou, Celtic manager, had warned before this match that Bodo / Glimt would be dangerous opponents. It must have given him very little pleasure to be right.

He hailed the quality of football played by the relatively low-budget Norwegian champions side, who beat Jose Mourinho’s AS Roma 6-1 at home in the autumn and drew 2-2 in the capital Italian.

And all that quality was there as Runar Espejord put them ahead after just six minutes and Amahl Pellegrino doubled their lead 10 minutes into the second half. Barely had Daizen Maeda pulled one back for Celtic with eleven minutes remaining, when a deflected shot from Hugo Vetlesen restored the visitors’ two-goal lead.

It was Celtic’s first defeat since a 3-2 loss to Bayer Leverkusen in the Europa League in November and if they are to reach the knockout stages of the Europa Conference League they will need to do much better next Thursday in the small a town just north of the Arctic Circle, whose population would fit into Celtic Park with room to spare.

The Norwegian team are just beginning pre-season preparations for their 2022 domestic campaign, which starts in March. Their most recent competitive match was on December 12, so Celtic might have been hoping for some early signs of rust.

Those hopes were quickly dashed, although Celtic, looking to make their usual fast start, could have drawn first blood when Maeda fired hard and low into the goal and left-back Brice Wembangomo nearly scuffed the ball in his own net.

Giorgos Giakoumakis of Celtic and Marius Hoibraten of Bodo/Glimt battle for the ball during the match.

But Pellegrino fired a 20-yard shot into the hands of Joe Hart at the end of a short break to emphasize that the visitors had not come to make up the numbers.

That should have raised alarm bells but Celtic turned a deaf ear to them as Bodo took the lead seconds later with a perfectly crafted goal. Pellegrino passed into field from the left and a series of quick passes between Vetlesen, twice, and Ola Solbakken ended with Espejord, on his debut for Bodo, sent in to beat Hart with a low shot.

The crowd did their best to entice Celtic to return to their terms, and the green and white tide responded by rushing forward. But they were unable to shake off a visiting team who seemed inspired rather than impressed by the atmosphere of a European night out in east Glasgow. Fans roared for a penalty when Cameron Carter-Vickers fell as goalkeeper Nikita Haikin swung out to meet a free-kick from the left, but a flag raised for offside rendered any argument academic.

Although Celtic attacked relentlessly and forced eight corner kicks in the first 40 minutes, they were unable to get into goalscoring positions as Bodo defended coolly and intelligently, a header or a toe always on the way to the final pass.

Maeda must have thought the equalizer was on when he found himself in play and a yard in front of his marker six minutes into the restart, only for Haikin to rush off his line to block.

Instead of being level, Celtic were two 55 minutes behind for a goal which left fans frustrated. They had taunted Solbakken for staying down after a sweet encounter between his chin and the ball, so they were unhappy to see him get up, cut inside Greg Taylor and hit a low square pass which was thrown by Espejord , leaving Pellegrino unmarked for a side foot in front of Hart.

Celtic needed to get back into the game quickly but Liel Abada missed a chance when he eluded his marker for once but headed up from a Josip Juranovic cross. Jota then drew a good save from Haikin with an angled shot.

Finally, Celtic had some joy when Maeda sent home a header from another Juranovic cross. But their joy was short-lived as the exceptional Vetlesen, set up by Solbakken, risked his arm from 25 yards and his shot was deflected by Callum McGregor before looping over a failed Hart.

CELTIC (4-3-3): Stag; Juranovic, Carter-Vickers, Starfelt, Taylor; O’Riley (Forrest 74), McGregor, Rogic (Hatate 59); Abada (Giakoumakis 60), Maeda, Jota.

BODO/GLIMT (4-3-3): Haikin; Sampsted, Moe, Hoibraten, Wembangomo (series 89); Vetlesen, Hagen, Saltnes (Konradsen 77); Solbakken (Mvuka 89), Espejord (Boniface 69), Pellegrino (Koomson 69).

Arbitrator: Andris Treimanis (Latvia).

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