Celtic with mountain to climb after mauling in Warsaw
Result could have been even worse for 10-man visitors as Legia miss two penalties
Efe Ambrose of Celtic is sent off by Dutch referee Pol van Boekel during the Champions League third qualifying round first leg clash against Legia Warsaw in Warsaw. Photo: Leszek Symanski
Legia Warsaw 4 Glasgow Celtic 1
Celtic’s Champions League hopes are hanging by a thread after a dispiriting 4-1 defeat by Legia Warsaw in the third qualifying round first leg at the Pepsi Arena. The Scottish champions were lucky to escape without further punishment.
Callum McGregor gave the visitors the lead in the seventh minute with a strike from outside the penalty area, the 21-year-old midfielder’s second European goal in three games, and that looked like being the early boost that would propel the Scottish champions on.
McGregor got the Scottish champions off to a great start when he drifted in off the right flank past left-back Tomasz Jodlowiec before firing in a left-footed drive from 20 yards which gave home keeper Dusan Kuciak no chance.
However, barely had the cheers of the 160 or so Celtic fans inside the 31,000-capacity stadium subsided when Legia drew level as the Parkhead defence dropped their guard.
When Legia’s highly coveted midfielder Zyro played in Miroslav Radovic the Croat had plenty of time inside the Celtic box to get his shot away, with Hoops keeper Fraser Forster getting a touch but unable to keep it out.
Then in the 36th minute, just after Teemu Pukki had missed a decent chance, the home side forged ahead all too easily. Zyro’s cross was headed down at the back post by Kucharczyk and, with the Celtic defence slow to react and Ambrose slipping, Radovic fired in from close range
When Parkhead defender Efe Ambrose was red-carded a minute from the interval for a last-man challenge on Michal Kucharczyk the visitors faced an uphill task.
Striker Pukki made way for midfielder Beram Kayal and Kris Commons moved up to lead the line, with captain Charlie Mulgrew dropping into defence.
In the second half, 10-man Celtic were let off the hook when Legia captain Ivica Vrdoljak fired a penalty wide after captain Charlie Mulgrew was adjudged to have fouled Ondrej Duda inside the box.
But in the 84th minute Michal Zyro headed in number three before Mulgrew conceded another penalty with a trip on substitute Jakub Kosecki, this time Forster saving Vrdoljak’s spot-kick.
But there was another sting in the last seconds when Kosecki slotted in a pass from Lukasz Broz to stretch Legia’s lead ahead of next week’s return game at Murrayfield in Edinburgh – used as Celtic Park is still out of commission due to the Commonwealth Games.
LEGIA WARSAW: Kuciak; Broz, Rzezniczak, Brzyski, Astiz, Zyro (Saganowski, 87 ), Jodlowiec, Vrdoljak, Kucharczyk (Kosecki, 75), Duda, Radovic. Booked: Astiz, Kosecki. Subs not used: Júnior Dossa Momade, Ojamaa, Piech, Pinto, Jalocha.
CELTIC: Forster; Matthews, van Dijk, Ambrose, Lustig, Mulgrew, Johansen, Commons (Griffiths, 75), McGregor, Berget (Izaguirre, 62), Pukki (Kayal, 45). Booked: Mulgrew, Griffiths, Kayal. Subs not used: Biton, Stokes, Boerrigter, Zaluska. Pol van Boekel (Netherlands)