Celtic powerless in face of Bayern bombardment
Bayern Munich 3 Celtic 0
The presumption that, buoyed by an ultimately comfortable success away to Anderlecht, Celtic could mix it with the likes of Bayern Munich on their own turf was shredded by a defeat in the Allianz Arena that could have been significantly more emphatic.
Bayern exploited Celtic's manifest aerial weakness at the back for Thomas Muller, Joshua Kimmich and Mats Hummels to score in a fashion which will give Brendan Rodgers much to contemplate before the pair meet again in two weeks at Parkhead.
As predicted, Rodgers dealt with the loss of Jozo Simunovic by switching Mikael Lustig inside to partner Dedryck Boyata in central defence and filling the gap at right-back with Cristian Gamboa, who made his first club appearance of the campaign against Dundee on Saturday.
Ahead of the makeshift arrangement at the heart of the back line, there was more positive news in the shape of Scott Brown and Stuart Armstrong, both of whom were back after injury lay-offs. Brown took up his customary station in the holding role alongside Olivier Ntcham, while Armstrong was at the centre of the advanced midfield three, flanked by Patrick Roberts and Scott Sinclair, in support of Leigh Griffiths.
Bayern's indifferent start to the season had precipitated the sacking of Carlo Ancelotti and ensured the return of Jupp Heynckes, whose third spell in charge - plus another as caretaker - was inaugurated with a 5-0 home win over Freiburg on Saturday. This was his first European tie in charge of Bayern since he steered them to the Champions League trophy against Borussia Dortmund at Wembley in 2013.
Rodgers chose to array Celtic in a 4-2-3-1 match-up with Bayern, a strategy that was weakened promptly by failure to win most of the individual contests. Bayern matched superior share of possession with manifest aggression and were unlucky to be deprived of a goal after six minutes when Thiago Alcantara shot home from a Robert Lewandowski cutback which the far side assistant referee judged, questionably, to have gone out.
The same official missed Lustig's tug on Lewandowski's jersey inside the box, which was a penalty-kick offence, but just after the quarter hour Bayern got their due when Lewandowski lost Lustig at a cross from Kimmich and rose ahead of Gamboa for a powerful downward header which Craig Gordon blocked, only for the rebound to fall to Muller, who beat the goalkeeper on the angle. Now chasing the game, Celtic looked even more vulnerable to Bayern's purposeful pace but the second goal, like the opener, was the product of freedom of their penalty area, this time granted to Kimmich to meet a Kingsley Coman delivery with a long, looping header which fell into the far corner.
The interval did not bring the changes sought by a noisy travelling support and, bar a brief flurry of Celtic activity around the Bayern box, the pattern of the first half was resumed before long and, shortly after the break, Bayern went further ahead. It was, almost needless to say, another header that did the damage, this time when Hummels got his skull to a corner from Arjen Robben to plant his delivery behind Gordon.
The goalkeeper shared culpability for the goal, because the corner kick was the consequence of a miskick by Gordon. As Celtic slumped on the ropes, Robben saw a header booted off the line and Lewandowski had a goal ruled out because he was fractionally offside.
Rodgers finally switched personnel midway through the second half, as Moussa Dembele replaced Leigh Griffiths and Armstrong made way for Tom Rogic.
James Forrest's appearance in place of Patrick Roberts sparked a spurt of Celtic activity, but yet another header from Muller, which struck Gordon's shoulder, was a reminder that the Hoops face another scary evening when Bayern come to the east end of Glasgow for Halloween. (© Daily Telegraph, London)