AEK Athens 2—1 Celtic.

jozo.jpg

Celtic out of the Champions League. Brendan Rodgers experiences his first serious setback at Celtic. And I wasn’t too chuffed either. Early goals in the first and second half from Rodrigo Galo and Marko Livaja put AEK on easy street. I’m a big fan of the dog’s chance. With twelve minutes to go Scott Sinclair –believe it or not – scored with a header. The dog’s chance was up and running with three legs and a Hoopy the Hoops strip. With almost the last kick of the ball Jozo Simunovic stuck a leg out and the ball squirmed past the AEK post. Game over.

The most annoying thing is Kilmarnock beat us and drew with us last year. AEK were better that Kilmarnock, but if we use the Rangers manager Stevie G’s metric the neutral fan (if such a beast exists and certainly not here) would say over the two legs Celtic were the much better team. AEK, like our Ayreshire friends, went up the park and scored goals that were amateurish from the Celtic perspective. The second and killer AEK goal, in particular, was a bog standard ball chipped into the box from just over the half way line. Hendry lost the first header. Lustig lost the second and Celtic were two goals down. In the Champions League such defending is punished. In the Premier League it was also punished. The only good thing here was it wasn’t Kyle Lafferty that scored against Celtic.

We’re left with a lot of what ifs. If Dembele and Edouard had remained fit then I’m pretty sure we wouldn’t have being having this mini-crisis. In the first leg Dembele would have knocked the AEK defence about and created chances. When he come on last night we looked more dangerous. Over the two legs we had three or four chances to every AEK effort. They scored more, obviously, and had a Walter Smith like back to the walls defensive performance. At least they didn’t bring on Laudrup to gallop away and score the winner in the last minute. I remember it well.

Our defence is rotten. Tierney is the exception to the rule. A big player in every game. The rest can go. Simunovic, in particular, just can’t hack it. But I’ve never been a fan. I’d be willing to give Jack Hendry and Ayer a chance. Lustig is borderline. When we need to defend, as was shown against AEK, they go missing. As for Boyata, no better than Effe and for many of the same reasons. He lets us down in big games and now in the biggest match of all decided he’s not fit. I’m with Sutton on this one, fuck off Boyata.

It’s a major kick in the finances for Celtic. Money invested in players is not money wasted. Rangers are on the rise and really, all kidding aside, we need to start again. We’ve went backwards. We’re still be far the best team in Scotland, but when our best players are missing, we’re bog average, even Hearts can beat us and Rangers will beat us. That unbeaten run of two years ago seems like a distant memory. History is created every day. Celtic need to start now.