Celtic 2-2 Atletico Madrid: ‘Terrific’ hosts will ‘take confidence’ from thrilling draw, says Brendan Rodgers

25 October 2023 0 By Total Football News
Kyogo Furuhashi scores for Celtic against Atletico MadridKyogo Furuhashi’s fourth-minute strike was reward for Celtic’s fast start against Atletico Madrid

Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers says his “terrific” side will receive an injection of belief after gaining their first Champions League point of the season in a ferocious contest with Atletico Madrid.

Rodgers’ men led twice at a raucous Celtic Park, first through Kyogo Furuhashi’s fourth-minute opener, then Luis Palma’s angled strike, after Antonie Griezmann converted a penalty at the second attempt.

But Alvaro Morata’s second-half header levelled the contest again to leave Celtic bottom of the group at the halfway stage and denied them a long-awaited home group stage win.

The draw means the Scottish champions retain a chance of claiming third place and a Europa League spot after Christmas, but progression in this competition is looking increasingly unlikely.

“That was a really good performance, but we just couldn’t get the win,” Rodgers said. “I don’t think you can say they’ll fly back to Spain not knowing they’ve had a tough game.

“They didn’t create so much. Their equaliser was fantastic and shows the quality at this level.

“Our reaction in the game was superb, having the courage and the bravery to play. We showed we can compete with a top level team. We can create opportunities. We can play the game the way we want to play.”

It had seemed that Celtic’s hopes would be reignited after a terrific first-half display.

The noise before kick-off was off the charts, and it grew even louder when Matt O’Riley superbly combined with Kyogo, who showed great composure to send the home crowd into an early frenzy.

It was no false dawn. Celtic were more than matching their illustrious opponents.

But their good work was undone when Rodrigo De Paul released Nahuel Molina, who was caught by Greg Taylor. Griezmann took the resultant penalty, and although Joe Hart saved, the ball struck a post and fell for Griezmann to finish.

Table

How would Celtic react? Superbly.

Taylor released Daizen Maeda, whose cross evaded everyone in the middle but fell for Luis Palma, who thundered a shot back across in off an upright via a slight deflection off Mario Hermoso. A dream result was very much on.

O’Riley then had a volley beaten away by Jan Oblak as Celtic sensed the possibility of a third in a thrilling opening period.

Atletico emerged a different side after the break, though, and were rewarded when substitute Marcos Llorente swung in a wonderful cross for the, until then, quiet Morata and he arrowed a header home.

Diego Simeone’s side showed their quality from that moment, with a tiring Celtic less of a threat and having to defend with real concentration and discipline for long spells.

Substitute Angel Correa spun superbly in the box to create space and his shot was well saved by Hart.

De Paul offered Celtic hope when he caught O’Riley to earn a second yellow late on but the hosts couldn’t capitalise on that advantage as they pushed forward and had to settle for a point.

Player of the match – Matt O’Riley (Celtic)

Matt O’RileyAgainst a team packed with superstars, a number of Celtic’s side stood out. O’Riley was again crucial and his quality unlocked Atletico for the opener. He’s a player operating at a consistently high level and didn’t look out of place throughout.

Improving Celtic don’t look out of place – analysis

Great European nights at Celtic Park have been drifting into distant history. A 10-year wait for a Champions League group stage win in Glasgow has meant a lot of suffering for supporters at the highest level.

The first half of this thrilling encounter was up there with some of the most compelling in some time.

That elusive win was very much on the cards come half-time in what was a display of genuine quality against top opposition. Celtic did so may things well and played at a level that showed they belong here.

There will be disappointment that those levels couldn’t be sustained throughout. However, over the course of the campaign, Rodgers’ side have shown they are far from out of place despite only having one point to show for their efforts.

What they said

Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers: “That was a really good performance, but we just couldn’t get the win. We’re not used to playing at that tempo and a wee bit of fatigue kicks in.

“We were unfortunate with the penalty. I thought it was harsh and it rebounds straight to them.”

Celtic keeper Joe Hart on TNT Sports: “Atletico are resolute, they made it difficult for us. They’re not a team that’s going to panic going down to 10 men. All the tricks came out.

“Our first half was electric. We’re getting there, just one more little push.”

Former Celtic goalkeeper Pat Bonner on Sportsound: “If they go to Madrid and play near to how they played in the first half, Celtic can get a result. To sustain that over 90 minutes is the critical part at this level.

“They’re competing in this group now. To stay in Europe in some form after this group would be a major achievement.”

Former Scotland forward James McFadden on Sportsound: “Atletico stopped Celtic from creating and getting into a rhythm in the second half.

“That’s what Atletico do. They find a way to get a result. They find a way to stifle you.”

Celtic return to league action with a trip to Edinburgh to face Hibernian on Saturday (15:00 BST). Their next Champions League action will be the return against Atletico in Spain on Tuesday, 7 November.

Second Half ends, Celtic 2, Atletico Madrid 2.