Celtic received a tough lesson from a clinical team of Real Madrid in the Champions League return when two goals in four minutes of the second half sent the defending champions on the road to a 3-0 win in Glasgow.
Liel Abada, twice, and substitute Daizen Maeda missed chances and Callum McGregor hit the post before Vinicius Junior and Luka Modric’s goals proved crucial.
Ange Postecoglou had promised that his Celtic side would put his intense attacking style to the test against the European champions and showed he could pose problems against a starting line-up that included 10 of the players who started last season’s final against the Liverpool.
But their inability to take chances while they were on top came back to bite them and Eden Hazard gave the Spaniards a cruel pillow with the hosts.
A banner in Celtic’s standing zone said they were “back with a bang” and the hosts had a great opportunity to take the lead within 30 seconds of their first Champions League group game in five years. The ball fell for Abada into the box, but Thibaut Courtois pushed the Israeli international’s shot wide to the side.
Vinicius was making good left-footers for Real and Cameron Carter-Vickers blocked Modric’s shot but Celtic continued to press and Abada soon dismissed an even better opportunity.
Jota’s first pass freed his winger after Celtic kicked a quick free kick from the edge of the box, but Abada shot straight to the keeper.
The Scottish champions kept the pressure high. Courtois parried a powerful volley from Reo Hatate before McGregor’s first shot shook the goal frame but bounced safely from inside the post.
Federico Valverde shot closely from 20 yards on the other side just before the injury forced Karim Benzema, who was granted a warm ovation by the home fans. The danger has arrived.
Real dominated possession late in the game and Hazard stabbed wide from six yards after finishing a Modric cross.
The Belgian quickly cleared Vinicius despite strong offside suspicions, but Joe Hart did well to block.
Maeda replaced Abada at half-time but missed his best chance in two minutes when he scored a direct shot at Courtois from six yards from Josip Juranovic’s cross.
Celtic paid the price for mistakes in the 56th minute. Valverde makes space on the right wing and identifies Vinicius who cuts in from the left. Juranovic fails to catch up to cut the low cross and the 22-year-old slips into the corner.
The double whammy was completed after Hazard left the scene following Carter-Vickers’ challenge to leave Celtic outnumbered. He fed Modric, who cut inside and patted the ball in the corner of the net with the outside of his boot.
The guests had taken the sting out of the game and Kyogo Furuhashi’s 72nd-minute introduction lifted the home crowd.
Hazard soon silenced them, at least briefly, when he scored from six yards after Dani Carvajal cut the ball following a deep cross.
Furuhashi, Jota and substitute Sead Haksabanovic came close to rewarding Celtic support’s relentless support with a goal, but their appreciation for their full-time side was further proof that they still believe they can make their mark. in the tournament.