Celtic conceded two goals in the last ten minutes as they saw their interest in the Europa League end with a 3-2 defeat to Bayer Leverkusen.
Goals from Josip Juranovic and Jota had seen Ange Postecoglou’s side had come from behind to lead 2-1 in a match where they needed to take at least a point to have hopes of progressing in the competition. Group winners Leverkusen showed their threat late on to continue their impressive showing in the competition.
Betis’ 2-0 win over Ferencvaros ensures Celtic will instead play in the Europa Conference League after Christmas.
Celtic found themselves behind after 16 minutes. Having already delivered a warning from a previous set piece, Leverkusen made a corner pay.
Florian Wirtz took the corner and swung it outwards, with Robert Andrich running from deep to guide a header inside Joe Hart’s near post.
Five minutes before half-time, Celtic drew level. Leverkusen keeper Lukas Hradecky came out to clear a cross but took out Kyogo Furuhashi instead. After a VAR review, Celtic were awarded a penalty and Juranovic stepped up to take responsibility.
The Croatian opted for a Panenka, with the ball clipping the underside of the crossbar on its way into the back of the net with Hradecky nowhere near.
The hosts quickly went to work looking to restore their lead and had a golden opportunity just before the break. Moussa Diaby hit a fierce shot that came off the post and went across goal, before Florian Wirtz took the rebound and smashed his shot off the other post.
The second half brought more end-to-end football and Celtic had to rely on Hart when he made a double save to deny Leverkusen again. The keeper blocked a Diaby effort with his feet, then pounced on to the ball as Adli looked certain to score.
The Englishman then started the move that led to Celtic’s second goal. A pin-point kick upfield landed at James Forrest’s feet and smart passing took the team to the edge of the box. Leverkusen’s Jeremie Frimpong looked set top clear but Kyogo knocked the ball across goal where Jota was waiting to bury a powerful shot in the opposite corner.
Both sides continued with their attacking approach and Ange Postecoglou swapped both wingers with 20 minutes to go, replacing Jota and Forrest with Mikey Johnston and Liel Abada to freshen up the attack.
Hart was forced into action to tip an Adli effort over the bar, then collected the corner with ease as Leverkusen looked to turn up the pressure.
An injury to Nir Bitton saw him come off with James McCarthy coming on, while Kyogo was replaced by Albian Ajeti.
Leverkusen’s efforts brought reward with eight minutes left. A cross to Amiri at the back post was teed up for Aldrich and his thumping shot gave Hart no chance.
Celtic’s hopes then took a final blow in the 87th minute. Wirtz found space on the left of the box and lifted the ball into the centre for Diaby to smash in a volley from the edge of the box.
David Turnbull had a chance in the final moments but Hradecky saved to earn his side three points and see Celtic’s Europa League hopes ended.
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