Europa League: Celtic dumped out by Copenhagen

Pep Biel's goal with five minutes left effectively killed the tie
Pep Biel’s goal with five minutes left effectively killed the tie

Celtic suffered a shock Europa League last-32 exit after a dramatic – and self-inflicted – defeat against FC Copenhagen in Glasgow.

Neil Lennon’s side seemed set for extra time when Odsonne Edouard dinked in a penalty – awarded after a VAR check – with seven minutes left to cancel out Michael Santos’ calamitous opener.

But the Danish champions netted twice on the break in the final five minutes – through Pep Biel and Dame N’Doye – to earn a 4-2 aggregate win and mete out Celtic’s first defeat in 2020.

It was a bitterly disappointing night for the Scottish Premiership leaders, who were favourites after a 1-1 draw a week ago, but were architects of their own downfall at Celtic Park.

And it means Rangers will be Scotland’s sole representatives in the next round, with the draw taking place from 12:00 GMT in Nyon on Friday.

‘Dumped out with almighty thud’

Before the deluge of Celtic errors and Copenhagen goals, the home team had an intensity about them, a tempo in the early minutes that forced the Danes on to the back foot.

It took them 15 minutes to start turning that pressure into chances, but when they did the opportunities flowed. How they were left to rue their wastefulness.

Firstly, James Forrest might have scored had he shown a little more belief at the back post after Mohamed Elyounoussi had swung in a terrific cross. Then, Elyounoussi, after starting the move by ransacking the visitors in his own half, fired over when he should have, at the very least, tested Karl-Johan Johnsson in the Copenhagen goal.

Celtic were slick and menacing. A third moment came and went when Tom Rogic almost scored, the ball bouncing off him in the box and hitting Johnsson’s right-hand post. Edouard had a shot deflected just wide and before the half was up the striker had another effort, a header from point-blank range following a delicious cross from Rogic.

You’d have bet your life on him putting it away, but instead he put it straight at Johnsson. Celtic Park held its head in its hands in angst.

Still, as tidy as Copenhagen looked when trying to counter attack, they hadn’t threatened. Fraser Forster hadn’t a save to make in the opening half. The missed chances would have frustrated them but the lack of menace from the visitors would have enthused Celtic all the same. A false sense of security as it turned out.

Early in the new half, everything changed. It turned out the that greatest threat to Celtic was Celtic themselves – or Jozo Simunovic to be exact. The big defender was guilty of calamitous defending, failing to deal with a routine ball and allowing Santos in to steal it away from him and go in on goal from the right.

Santos, an early substitute, had his pass cut out by a retreating Christopher Jullien, but the loose ball broke back to him and he clipped other Forster to render Celtic Park speechless beyond the euphoria coming from the visiting support.


A relatively comfortable night had suddenly become a crisis. Celtic needed a goal, for extra-time, or they were going out. Rogic snapped a low shot wide, a cue for Neil Lennon to send for Leigh Griffiths and go with two up front.

Within two minutes, Griffiths had a magnificent chance after sustained pressure, his shot from on the edge of the six-yard box tipped away by a prone Johnsson, a reflex save that was both stunning and savagely hard to take for the home support.

The stress was tangible now, but it lifted when Sigurdsson was done for handball by VAR and Edouard clipped the coolest penalty past Johnsson. The class and impudence of the striker sent Celtic Park into raptures.

With eight minutes left, the impetus was with Celtic. The relief evaporated quickly. More awful decision-making did for them again with Copenhagen’s second, Jullien and then Rogic getting their side into trouble in the first instance. The visitors countered and it was devastating, Biel put through on Forster and finishing brilliantly.

That as good as put Celtic out, but any prospect of a miraculous endgame was snuffed out with a third goal.

Again, Celtic were did themselves grievous damage. Kristoffer Ajer this time making a poor clearance before N’Doye went straight to score the goal that humbled the Scottish champions and dumped them out of Europe with an almighty thud.

Man of the match – Pep Biel

Clever and influential in the second half, the Spanish midfielder caused Celtic problems with his hustling and harrying and rounded it off with that decisive second goal. The real killer.



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