Thursday 23 November 2017

Martinez ends Bhoys' hopes of another famous European night

Celtic 1 Bayern Munich 2

Bayern Munich's Aguinaga Javi Martinez scores the winner. Photo: PA
Bayern Munich's Aguinaga Javi Martinez scores the winner. Photo: PA

Roddy Forsyth

European football for Celtic after Christmas will almost certainly depend on them avoiding a three-goal defeat to Anderlecht next month after they lost to goals from Kingsley Coman and Javi Martinez.

Anderlecht's 5-0 thrashing by Paris Saint-Germain leaves them bottom of Group B and with only a notional chance of stopping Celtic's advance to the Europa League.

Celtic’s Callum McGregor celebrates his goal. Photo: Reuters
Celtic’s Callum McGregor celebrates his goal. Photo: Reuters

The Germans' loss of Robert Lewandowski and Thomas Muller prompted animated conversations amongst Celtic fans and their Bayern counterparts and naturally, the home contingent hoped the absence of the two strikers would prompt Brendan Rodgers' men to play more expansively.

Gloomier German fans felt Celtic would score - a premonition that had substance by Callum McGregor's excellent strike - given that Bayern had not kept a clean sheet in their last nine Champions League matches away from the Allianz Arena.

On the other hand, with Arjen Robben and Kingsley Coman on the flanks, Bayern's replacements for the missing duo, James Rodriguez and Arturo Vidal could rely on quality service.

Celtic's early rhythm saw chances for Moussa Dembele and Scott Sinclair, both of which went wide, but the Hoops were then undone when Sven Ulreich launched a clearance downfield and Dedryck Boyata misjudged the bounce of the ball.

Celtic's Moussa Dembele and Bayern Munich's Aguinaga Javi Martinez battle for the ball. Photo: PA
Celtic's Moussa Dembele and Bayern Munich's Aguinaga Javi Martinez battle for the ball. Photo: PA

Coman did not and took it - albeit with the aid of a handball missed by the officials - beyond the Craig Gordon for a stroked finish, to Rodgers's manifest fury.

By the interval Celtic had restored their equilibrium having almost drawn level when Dembele was denied a point-blank finish by David Alaba's superb straining interception.

Four minutes after the break, the diligent Stuart Armstrong was presented with an even better opportunity.

He was played in by James Forrest for an angled shot that forced Ulreich into a full-length dive to get a hand on the ball and turn it wide for a corner kick.

Bayern Munich's Arjen Robben keeps possession from Celtic's Stuart Armstrong. Photo: PA
Bayern Munich's Arjen Robben keeps possession from Celtic's Stuart Armstrong. Photo: PA

As the last quarter-hour approached, it seemed that Bayern had ridden out Celtic's storm.

Then came McGregor's sublime left-foot nutmeg of Ulreich from Forrest's prompt. It was a goal that unleashed bedlam in the stands as hope erupted once more but it took only three minutes for Martinez to restore Bayern's lead, rising above Bitton to head home.

© The Daily Telegraph, London

Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers. Photo: PA Wire
Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers. Photo: PA Wire

Telegraph.co.uk

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