- HeartbreakCeltic found themselves on cloud nine after qualifying for the Champions League group stages, for the second successive season under Brendan Rodgers. The prestige and financial benefits of the competition are well known, so the early European qualifiers have become a vital part of the season for the club. Tonight, Celtic's faithful supporters were brought back down to Earth with an unforgiving smack.
0 - 5
UEFA Champions League
Celtic Park, Glasgow
12 Sep 2017
CELTIC (4-2-3-1) Gordon; Ralston, Lustig, Simunovic, Tierney; Brown, Ntcham; Armstrong (Rogic 45), Roberts (Forrest 77), Sinclair; Griffiths (Edouard 68).
The trio of Mbappe, Cavani and £200m Neymar showed why Paris Saint-Germain are one of the favourites to win the entire tournament this season, with Cavani scoring two and Neymar and Mbappe grabbing one each. Their movement going forward and ability to create space is the envy of most football clubs around the world. Unfortunately for Celtic, PSG have quality throughout their squad, with Celtic's front three often finding themselves frustrated as they struggled to break through the Parisian defence.
The match opened with Paris Saint-Germain dominating possession, Celtic struggling to get out of their own half and young Anthony Ralston facing a baptism of fire against the most expensive player in football history. It is worth noting that Neymar cost much more than Celtic have spent on transfer fees in their entire history. If that doesn't highlight how enourmous Celtic's task is in this competition, then nothing will.
Even if Brendan Rodgers managed to sign a centre back in the summer transfer window, our defence would have still struggled to contain such an impressive forward line.
Celtic's first attempt on goal was a wayward shot from Olivier Ntcham, whose shot from distance went wide, while Patrick Roberts was screaming for the ball, in acres of space. Despite being able to surge forward on occasion, Celtic surrendered possession far too easily and time and time again found themselves on the back foot.
The opening goal came in the 19th minute, courtesy of a counter attack after Leigh Griffiths lost the ball in the opposition half. Celtic may feel agrieved that the referee did not blow for a foul on Scott Sinclair as he was barged over, just as he released the ball for Griffiths. Once PSG regained possession from Griffiths, Neymar ran in behind Ralston, latching on to a through ball before cutting inside with the outside of his foot, and flicking the ball over Craig Gordon and into the net.
It was a sucker punch from Celtic but they very nearly recovered from it 2 minutes later, with Verratti conceding a free kick approximately 40 yards from his own goal. Griffiths fired in a wonderful strike that was heading towards the back of the net, only for Areola to tip it over the bar with a fine save. Sadly, this was to be Celtic's best effort of the match.
PSG continued to dominate and although the likes of Roberts tried to create something, he often cut a frustrated figure as he attempted to weave his way through too many defenders with almost no support.
PSG doubled their lead on 34 minutes, with poor marking in the box leaving Kylian Mbappe free to smash the ball into the back of the net. The fans in the stand rallied the Scottish champions, but with Stuart Armstrong and others continuing to lose possession easily, the crowd's optimism drained. PSG had really settled into the match and were brimming with confidence. The gap in quality was evident.
Matters got worse for Celtic on 40 minutes, with Jozo Simunovic (Celtic's only fit centre back) tugging down Edinson Cavani in the box, receiving a booking as the referee pointed to the spot. Cavani cooly put the penalty away and every Celtic fan must have been begging for the half time whistle to prevent more damage being done.
Tom Rogic came on for Stuart Armstrong, who had a miserable game and Celtic got the ball rolling for the second half. The first few minutes of the second half saw Celtic enjoying more possession, but they were unable to do much with it. Rogic and Ntcham combined well in midfield before the Frenchman sprayed the ball outwide to Tierney, who fired in a cross which was cleared by PSG's defence. 2 minutes after this, Paddy Roberts attempted to pull the ball back to Ntcham at the edge of the area, but Thiago Silva wonderfully intercepted and another Celtic attack was snuffed out with ease.
With 53 minutes gone, Anthony Ralston surged forward past two players and got into PSG's penalty box, only for him to be brought down by two defenders and loud claims for a penalty were heard. The referee thought nothing of it.
Celtic's lack of luck in this match was evident on 65 minutes, as Patrick Roberts ran forward into PSG's penalty area, before Kurzawa dispossessed him and sent the ball out for what should have been a corner, yet a goal kick was awarded. 3 minutes after this, Neymar hit a shot high over the bar from just inside the 18 yard box.
Leigh Griffiths was then taken off in favour of Odsonne Edouard; the 19 year old Frenchman coming on to face his parent club.
On 71 minutes, PSG had another shot on goal which was blocked by the chest of Ralston, with PSG's players claiming for a penalty. Not long after this, Neymar fired a shot wide of goal when it looked easier to score.
The most expensive player in history found himself booked on 75 minutes, for diving, which promted a cheer from the home support. Neymar is not a popular figure amongst the Celtic support, justifiably so.
Rodgers utilised his third and final substitution of the night, sending James Forrest on for Patrick Roberts, with 8 minutes left on the clock. Unfortunately, Forrest was unable to make any significant impact on the game in the short time he was on the pitch. In fact, Celtic's misery was underlined as a cross from Draxler was deflected off Lustig and into the net for an own goal. A depressing moment that summed up Celtic's evening.
For neutrals watching the game, there was one final moment of footballing brilliance to be seen, with Edinson Cavani getting his second of the night, and PSG's 5th, with an astoundingly good header from an angle that looped over Gordon and bounced into the back of the net via the far post.
The referee eventually blew the full time whistle, which means Paris Saint-Germain have now inflicted Celtic's worst ever home result in European competition. Outclassed and outplayed for 90 minutes, it was a heartbreaking watch for every Celtic supporter. The gulf in quality was clear, but you can't help but feel the Celtic team made it easier for them than it should have been.
Attention now turns back to domestic duty before Celtic begin to prepare for their next Champions League match.
Not Used: De Vries, Bitton, Ajer, McGregor,
PARIS SAINT-GERMAIN (4-3-3) Areola; Alves, Marquinhos, Silva, Kurzawa; Veratti, Motta, Rabiot (Draxler 61); Mbappe (Lo Celso 83), Neymar, Cavani.
Not Used: Trapp, Kimpembe, Lucas, Meunier, Berchiche