By Ollie Irish
After the spirit-crushing 3-0 defeat at Braga in the first leg, Celtic’s Champions League adventure was over almost before it kicked off. And when Braga’s Paulo Cesar made it 4-0 on aggregate with a header midway through the first half, the game really was up for Neil Lennon’s side.
The Hoops battled gamely after the break though, and scored through Gary Hooper and new signing Efrain Juarez – one of the main positives for the SPL club on a frustrating night – to at least boost morale.
Lennon was quick to put a coat of gloss on a very disappointing result:
“Overall, I’m delighted with the performance and intensity and all the things you ask for – commitment and passion,” Celtic’s boss said.
“The pace we played at and the passing was very pleasing.
“At half-time we just asked the players to win the game and I thought we deserved to win.”
Celtic now drop down into the Europa League qualifying section, which is much more their level at the moment. Braga look a tidy, skilful side and they will test better teams than Celtic.
Overall, it’s more proof of how Scottish football has fallen behind leagues such as Portugal’s. Celtic dont’ meet teams of the calibre of Braga often enough in the SPL. So it’s no big shock that they were caught cold.