Celtic 1-3 Bodo/Glimt

Celtic 1-3 Bodo/Glimt: Hoops suffer Europa Conference League defeat as Norwegian champions run riot in comprehensive first-leg knockout victory at Celtic Park

  • Celtic were beaten 3-1 by Bodo/Glimt in the Europa Conference League
  • The Norwegian outfit outclassed Ange Postecoglou’s men on Thursday night
  • Bodo/Glimt stormed into a 3-0 lead before Daizen Maeda pulled one back
  • Celtic now have it all to do in next week’s crucial second leg in Norway 

By JOHN MCGARRY FOR THE SCOTTISH DAILY MAIL

PUBLISHED: 21:56 GMT, 17 February 2022 | UPDATED: 22:15 GMT, 17 February 2022

 

Situated north of the Arctic Circle, they say the wind chill in town of Bodo at this time of year is so severe that it can stop unsuspecting tourists in their tracks.

If only the plunging mercury was Celtic’s only concern as they seek to turn this tie around in Norway next week.

What a chastening night this proved to be for Ange Postecoglou’s side. After all the talk of going far in the inaugural Conference League, they were second best here by some distance.

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Against an opponent whose reputation now proceeds them in Europe, the Australian’s team looked a pale imitation of the one which had gone 17 games unbeaten and had won nine on the

Celtic were beaten 3-1 by Bodo/Glimt in their Europa Conference League knockout first leg

By the end of it all, you couldn’t help but reflect on the Celtic manager’s words of dissatisfaction that followed a pedestrian display against Raith Rovers last weekend.

At the time, some observers perhaps thought he’d over-egged the pudding. His words now seem prophetic.

It was a night of old, familiar failings. To the 15 goals which were conceded in six Europa League games, three more were added through Runar Espejord, Amahl Pellegrino and Hugo Vetlesen.

Two goals down, Daizen Maeda’s glancing header briefly gave Celtic hope but it lasted all of two minutes. Ahead of next Thursday’s return, it is now extremely thin on the ground as far as progression is concerned.

You simply had to applaud what Bodo/Glimt achieved here. The back-to-back Norwegian champions were never overawed by the occasion.

Given they beat Roma 6-1 at home before drawing 2-2 in Italy earlier in the campaign, that really should have come as no surprise.

Runar Espejord fired the Norwegian outfit in front after just six minutes at Celtic Park

Amahl Pellegrino then doubled Bodo/Glimt’s lead in the second half to put them in control

It quickly became clear Celtic were no match for the side situated north of the Arctic Circle

And Hugo Vetlesen added a third for the visitors to ensure Celtic have it all to do in the decider

A team from a town with just 50,000 inhabitants, they played like European thoroughbreds.

You would not bet against them going far in this competition. And it will all be bought and paid for.

It was billed as a night when fire would fight fire but the Norwegian’s display was simply too hot for Postecoglou’s side to handle.

For Celtic over the past 18 years, the first post-Christmas knock-out round in Europe has brought nothing but heartache.

Since that famous slaying of Barcelona in 2004, seven ties have come and gone. Each ended in failure.

Notwithstanding the fact that Bodo/Glimt arrived in town as champions, they were no AC Milan or Valencia.

They are also in the middle of an epic pre-season with their League season not starting until April. There was then no disguising Celtic’s status as favourites to go through. Not now, though.

Daizen Maeda did pull one back for the Scottish Premiership outfit late in the game

But it was a disappointing night at the office for Ange Postecoglou and his Hoops players

The similarities between the sides in terms of a slavish devotion to building from the back and a rapid counter-attacking style were startling. It was just that the visitors were far better at it.

Celtic were first to penetrate through Carl Starfelt’s slide-rule ball. Maeda thought better of shooting from an angle and centred but found no takers.

The visitors replied with a slick one-touch passing move which ended with Pellegrino cutting inside and testing Joe Hart with a low curler.

Bodo/Glimt’s qualities were immediately obvious. Comfortable on the ball, with explosive pace on the flanks, they passed their way into the lead on seven minutes.

It was a superb move, crisp intricate balls being played to feet. The movement and sharpness led Celtic’s defence a merry dance.

It was eventually shuttled to the Espejord – in space 15 yards out. Cameron Carter-Vickers went to ground in a vain attempt to bock the shot. It fizzed past him and Hart and landed in the far corner of the net.

Celtic were rattled. There was no fluency to their early play. The passing was sloppy.

Callum McGregor’s ball over the top invited Maeda to swing his right boot. The Japanese did but only caught fresh air.

With the game see-sawing, Alfons Sampsted, the visitors’ right-back, had a menacing strike blocked by Carter-Vickers.

Starfelt sent a header wide then screamed at the Latvian referee for a handball. It rather summed up Celtic’s desperation.

Moments of promise for Postecoglou’s men were crushed by poor decision making. Jota and Liel Abada were both guilty of taking on shots when they had better options.

Elsewhere, Tom Rogic was too easily muscled off the ball by Ulrik Saltness. Maeda came deep but his touches were heavy. Collectively, they were all off the pace.

There was no fluency to Celtic’s play on a night where they crashed down to earth dramatically

Kjetil Knutsen’s men had certainly done their homework. They refused to let Celtic play through them, forcing their opponents wide. In Nikita Haikin, they also had a goalkeeper who hoovered up every cross ball that came his way. Rarely did they look under threat at a set piece.

Their composure and bravery on the ball only seemed to grow. They were never going to be spooked by the raucous atmosphere.

Celtic re-started the second half with a point to prove and a greater sense of purpose. Jota fired a decent effort just over but the crowd responded positively.

McGregor sent a 50-yard ball over the top. Maeda trapped it and opted to take it round the keeper. Haikin somehow made up the ground and pulled off a remarkable stop.

The importance of that moment was immediately seen. Ola Solbakken had felt the wrath of the home support by trying to get the game stopped for a dubious looking facial injury.

The Hoops now have a mountain to climb in next week’s second leg out in Norway

Bodo/Glimt will fancy their chances of progressing to the last-16 stage of the competition

He returned to his feet like a man on a mission. He bulldozed his way past Greg Taylor and Matt O’Riley. His low cross needed a decisive intervention from a Celtic defender. None was forthcoming. Pellegrino kept his calm and picked his spot.

Bodo/Glimt were putting on some show. Celtic couldn’t do right for doing wrong.

Giorgos Giakoumakis and Reo Hatate replaced the ineffective Rogic and Abada but any number of players could have made way.

The little Israeli just couldn’t get going here. He should have halved the deficit with a header just before departing the scene but it was miles over.

Such chances were hard to come by. Jota did work Haikin with a powerful drive that was returned with interest by the keeper’s fists.

Just when Celtic looked to be running out of ideas, they bought a ticket back into the contest. Josip Juranovic’s cross from the right left Maeda with work to do but his cute glancing header left Haikin with no chance.

With 11 minutes remaining, could Celtic yet pull this out of the fire? Within two minutes we had the answer.

Having gathered themselves in an impromptu huddle of their own, Knutsen’s side immediately went back on the attack. The ball was worked to Vetlesen at the edge of the box. His ambitious shot caught McGregor. Hart was a bystander as it looped up and over him and into the net. Tie as good as over.

 

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