Lazio Strike At The Death To Inflict Another UEFA Champions League Defeat For Celtic
Lazio came away with all three points in a fiery 2-1 victory at Celtic Park as they moved up to second in Group E of the UEFA Champions League.
Lazio, who currently sit 16th in the Serie A, last took on Celtic in the Europa League in 2019 where Celtic won both group stage games against them.
Going into this game, Lazio manager Maurizio Sarri knew not to underestimate this Celtic side, branding them as the ‘dark horse’ of the group and predicting an ‘intense physical game.’
Celtic captain Callum McGregor said: “If we can play with good energy and quality on the ball then hopefully we can have a good night.”
When asked about their current league form and if it would impact the game, he said: “They’re clearly not at their free-flowing best, but we’ve looked at them on the video and they will still be a top team. They’ve earned the right to be in the competition and although they’ve stuttered a bit in the league I don’t think it will count for much.”
The atmosphere inside Celtic Park pushed the team forward as Celtic desperately searched for an opener.
Celtic were the first to be presented with an opportunity as Yang Hyun-Jun and Reo Hatate combined to play the ball to Kyogo Furuhashi’s feet. His shot was blocked but it would only take a minute for the ball to find the forward again.
This time, he made no mistake as he struck it past the goalkeeper as Celtic Park erupted after their Japanese starman put them 1-0 up.
The hosts kept pushing in search of a second goal, however, it was Lazio who found themselves with a chance.
Ciro Immobile was played through on goal but Joe Hart did well to palm it away from his goal, however, the goal would not have stood as the offside flag was raised.
Lazio would find an equaliser shortly after as a corner kick resulted in a goal for the Italian side. Hart attempted to slap the ball away but Matias Vecino’s header had already crossed the line.
As half-time approached, Celtic pushed forward. Matt O’Riley found himself in space but Ivan Provedel made a good save to deny him. The Celtic midfielder got back to make an important interception as Lazio attempted to launch a counter-attack.
The atmosphere was electric inside Celtic Park but the hosts couldn’t build on their early start.
Celtic held possession for a majority of the first-half, however, they couldn’t seem to get out of their own half a lot of the time with many passes being played amongst the defenders. When they did get forward, they looked good with Furuhashi being a stand-out performer.
A questionable refereeing performance was the talk of half-time as many pundits and fans brought up a serious incident that may have been missed.
It appeared as though Elseid Hysaj struck Hatate in the face but both the on-field referee and VAR officials chose not to review the offence. Former Celtic player John Hartson reckons that Lazio got away with the potential red card offence saying: “That’s a punch. He has hit him in the face. I am very surprised VAR is not looking at that.”
Lazio had the first proper chance of the second-half as just five minutes in, Felipe Anderson fired a shot towards goal. It failed to hit the target, and then, Celtic looked to pounce.
At the other end of the pitch, Yang was fouled on the edge of the area and the hosts were awarded a free-kick. O’Riley rolled the ball into the path of Hatate who struck it low but the Lazio goalkeeper managed to push the ball away. Daizen Maeda jumped on the rebound and he set up Alistair Johnston but the full-back put his shot over the bar.
Shortly after the hour mark, the Celtic Park faithful welcomed Cameron Carter-Vickers back to the team after suffering a hamstring injury against Aberdeen on August 13th.
Lazio were presented with an opportunity to put themselves in front as Daichi Kamada shot from range. Hart dealt with the attempt well and the scoreline remained level.
With 10 minutes left on the clock, Maeda flicked it on for Luis Palma who cut inside and fired the ball into the back of the net. Celtic Park was jumping to celebrate their winner but VAR halted their celebrations as the goal was ruled offside.
Disaster struck in the dying minutes as Matteo Guendouzi’s cross found the head of Pedro who put the ball beyond Joe Hart.
Celtic deserved something from this game and it’s clear to see. The Scottish side put in a fantastic performance in the second-half and everyone involved with the club were heartbroken to have experienced such a late goal.
An emotional Matt O’Riley spoke to TNT Sports after the match. He said: “Yeah, not great to be honest. Pretty upset to be honest. Fine moments, but it’s frustrating being in this position again, quite similar to last year. We played well but it wasn’t enough. I thought we were good and solid defensively, conceding late is not nice. Someone mentioned something about offside but I’m sure they got it right. I thought the fans were amazing and they kept us going to the end. We said before the game these are the games you have to win. We put ourselves in a great position to win it and I thought we had nicked it with Luis’ goal but it wasn’t to be.”
Brendan Rodgers questioned the “strange decisions” made by the referee on the night in a post-match interview with TNT Sports.
He was proud of his players though and said: “I can’t be critical of this group of players for what they’ve given in the game against a good side that have some top quality players. We should have had more. We’ll analyse the performance and see where we can be better and we’ll be here again for Atletico to show the spirit and fight and see if we can get a result there.”
Celtic have lost their opening two fixtures in the Champions League this season and they will have to put in a series of good performances if they want to qualify from the group stages.
While Lazio are 16th in Serie A, they are unbeaten in this season’s Champions League group stage.
Domestically, Celtic take on Kilmarnock in the Scottish Premiership on Saturday whilst Lazio host Atalanta in Serie A.
In the Champions League, Celtic host Atlético Madrid in the next matchday on October 25th with Lazio facing another away tie against Feyenoord on the same day in the early kick-off.
Celtic’s XI: Hart, Johnston, Phillips (Carter-Vickers 62′), Scales, Taylor, Hatate (Bernando 72′), McGregor, O’Riley, Yang (Palma 62′), Furuhashi (Oh Hyeon-Gyu 86′), Maeda
Lazio’s XI: Provedel, Lazzari (Marusic 84′), Patric, Romagnoli, Hysaj, Kamada, Vecino, Luis Alberto (Guendouzi 68), Felipe Anderson (Isaksen 68′), Immobile (Castellanos 72′), Zaccagni (Pedro 84′)