In second qualifying round of The UEFA Champions League in late July last month, Scottish Champions Celtic were hammered 4-1 by Legia Warsaw in Poland, and this was just the first leg.
In the second leg at Murrayfield, Edinburgh (Playing away from Celtic Park due to The Commonwealth Games), The Scottish Champions were duly beaten 2-0 at home in what was an embarrassing performance on a European stage.
Astonishingly, Celtic were re-instated back into The Champions League a week later, after it was revealed that a Legia Warsaw player was brought onto the game late in the second half at Murrayfield, who was supposedly suspended for the qualifying ties. UEFA then handed Celtic a ‘walkover’ 3-0 victory, which took them through on away goals at 4-4.
They were then paired up with the Slovenian champs, NK Maribor where in the first, the game was evenly poised at 1-1 for the return leg in Glasgow.
The return leg was played last night, and for the second time, Celtic were again dumped out of the competition, courtesy of a late goal in the 75th minute from Maribor Captain, Marcos Taveres, This was heartbreak for a club that scaled the heights of beating Barcelona just two seasons ago.
Virgil Van Dijk strewn across the turf after the loss against Maribor. BBC News 2014.
Former Celtic Striker, Charlie Nicholas went on to say after the game on Sky Sports, “The only interest of the Celtic board members is cash.” He then went on to say, “In the cold light of day what’s going to happen is that the fans here, they are going to turn on the owners and won’t turn up for a lot of the games.”
Sales of key players Gary Hooper, Joe Ledley, Victor Wanyama, Georgios Samaras and Fraser Forster to Premier League clubs had removed the nucleus of the team, and the lack of quality purchased in-return, has been staggering.
Some of the fall out online has even been amusing, as fans took to voice their opinion on social media sports sections to have a dig at last night’s end result.
On the SkySports comments feed, some of the most memorable comments read:
McGregork wrote: “Not over yet! Celtic still may have a chance to make it to the next stage of the Champions League! One of the Maribor player shirt number was different to the number on his shorts! We are waiting now for UEFA’s decision!”
Nick wrote: “Celtic, the only team to be knocked out of the same competition twice in one season”
But, it isn’t all doom & gloom for Celtic. They still have a chance to at least restore some pride in Europe’s second-tier competition, The Europa League. This may be a chance a chance for the club to blood some of its youngsters from the academy, and play without any expectation or inhibition that has weighed them down recently. You do wonder though, whether, if ever, Celtic will be able to be competitive against the best again.