Celtic were thrashed 4-1 by Polish side Legia Warsaw in the Champions League third qualifying round first leg on Wednesday, a result that all but ends their hope for progression to the group stages. It will take a remarkable turnaround for Ronny Deila’s side to overturn this at Parkhead next week.
Celtic had taken an early lead in Poland with a curling shot into the top corner from Callum McGregor. However, Miroslav Radovic scored twice, and it got worse before half-time when Efe Ambrose was sent off.
Ivica Vrdoljak twice missed from the penalty spot, but Michal Zyro and Jakub Kosecki both found the net late on. If it was not for some heroic goalkeeping by Fraser Forster, this could have been a real embarrassment.
If Celtic cannot overcome a three goal deficit the big question is will new manager Deila be fired before the Scottish Premier League season even begins? Celtic have made it clear that the goal of this season was European football and the revenue that brings with it. Without it, and with no real domestic rivals, there is nothing to stop them firing Deila, as they will win the league anyway.
Elsewhere Lille took a step towards qualifying for the group stages by winning 2-0 against Grasshopper in Zurich. Rene Girard’s side took the lead at the Stadion Letzigrund in the 29th minute when Sebastien Corchia found himself unmarked at the far post to slot home a Ryan Mendes cross from the left wing. Corchia returned the favour four minutes after the half-time break and Mendes made no mistake from close range to double Lille’s lead.
Andre Villas-Boas’ Zenit St. Petersburg have it all to do in the second leg after they lost 1-0 to Cypriot side AEL Limassol in Larnaca. Lukasz Gikiewicz’s 64th-minute goal was enough to secure victory for the hosts, while Zenit’s miserable night was compounded by Axel Witsel’s second-half sending-off.
Red Bull Salzburg also had a day to forget as they slumped to a 2-1 defeat at Azeri side Qarabag FK in Baku. Danilo Dias gave the hosts the perfect start when he opened the scoring in the second minute, before Jonathan Soriano equalised for Salzburg in the 77th minute. The majority of those watching at the Tofiq Bahramov Stadium were delirious with excitement nine minutes later when Reynaldo dos Santos Silva scored what proved to be the winner with four minutes to play.
Turkish side Besiktas had better luck on their travels, however, with goals from Mustafa Pektemek and Kerim Frei earning a 2-1 victory at Feyenoord. Mitchell te Vrede notched a consoltation strike five minutes into added time for the hosts.
Dinamo Zagreb joined Besiktas in triumphing away from home as a Marcelo Brozovic strike four minutes into the second half proved to be the only goal of the game against Danish outfit Aalborg BK. Maccabi Tel Aviv’s game at Solvenian side NK Maribor was heading toward a stalemate until Damjan Bohar scored the winner in the fifth minute of added time to secure a 1-0 victory for the hosts.
Steaua Bucherest were forced to settle for a 2-2 draw at Kazahk side FC Aktobe despite twice taking the lead, while the game between HJK Helsinki and Apoel Nicosia finished with the same scoreline. Elsewhere, Standrad Liege were held to a goalless draw at home to Panathinaikos, Partizan Belgrade achieved the same scoreline at Bulgarian side PFC Ludogorets Razgrad and there were no goals in the game between Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk and FC Copenhagen in Ukraine.