Celtic fell to a 5-1 defeat at the Bernabeu on Wednesday to evening to European champions Real Madrid.
Penalty drama early on meant the hosts went in two up at the break and after they netted three consecutive goals on the 51st, 61st and 71st minutes, the Hoops got their deserved consolation courtesy of a magnificent Jota free kick.
Here’s how the players rated.
Joe Hart – 5/10
The Englishman made some adequate saves when tested from range although could’ve been quicker off his line when Vinicius got played in behind in the phase of play which led to Real’s first penalty. And for both spot kicks, Hart couldn’t do much yet his wait to save one for the Hoops goes on.
Josip Juranovic – 4/10
The Croatian right back was one of his side’s poorest performers this evening. Juranovic missed a crucial penalty in the first half which, should he have converted, would have made for an intriguing match. In defence, the 27 year old wasn’t the best either and his ball retaining and passing was poor also.
Moritz Jenz – 5/10
The German gave away the penalty which led to Real Madrid’s opener although other than this, it is hard to think of any instances where Jenz done anything outstandingly bad. Nevertheless, the German didn’t have many positive moments in what was his seventh Celtic start in a row.
Carl Starfelt – 6/10
Returning to the Celtic starting eleven from injury this evening, Carl Starfelt was the pick of the Bhoys’ defenders. The Swede was confident when playing the ball out from the back and made a number of blocks and clearances. Furthermore, it was the 27 year old who prevented the scoreline from getting even worse late on with a heroic goal line clearance.
Greg Taylor – 5/10
On arguably the form of his life going into the match, Greg Taylor wasn’t the greatest at the Bernabeu. The Scottish full back looked exposed and vulnerable defensively at times yet he did make a few plausible passes up the left hand side.
Matt O’Riley – 6/10
Going from playing English League One football with MK Dons to turning out at the Bernabeu for Celtic, Matt O’Riley’s transformation over the past few months has been quite something. Tonight, the 21 year old played in the deepest role in the Hoops’ engine room and although he gave away a penalty, O’Riley still won quite a few tackles and intercepted a number of Real balls in midfield whilst also looking to constantly play forward.
Reo Hatate – 6/10
The 24 year old looked utterly exhausted when he came off on the 82nd minute and when playing, Reo Hatate wasn’t overly eye catching. The Japanese did force an admirable save from Courtois in the first half although his long-range passing wasn’t as virtuous as it usually is.
Aaron Mooy – 6/10
Starting in midfield yet again, Aaron Mooy wasn’t noticeably poor. Granted, the Australian’s first touch could’ve been better at times however Mooy’s passing was fairly accurate and he didn’t give the ball away at any key moments.
Liel Abada – 7/10
Winner of Celtic’s penalty, Liel Abada was livelier than he has been recently on the right hand side tonight. Although he had some loose touches, the Israeli was passable in the Bernabeu.
Daizen Maeda – 7/10
Daizen Maeda put in a wealth of effort on the left hand side for his team, going forward as well as tracking back. The 25 year old was sufficient in his display and could’ve got on the scoresheet had he managed to latch on to Liel Abada’s deep cross early in the second half.
Kyogo – 6/10
The Japanese had little to feed on up top for Celtic throughout the match. Kyogo looked a frustrated figure throughout before being hooked just after the hour.
A quartet of changes were made by Celtic boss Ange Postecoglou on the 62nd minute. Giorgos Giakoumakis, Sead Haksabanovic, David Turnbull and Jota all came on to replace Kyogo, Abada, Mooy and Maeda respectively.
Giakoumakis provided more of a physical presence up top meanwhile Haksabanovic brought vivacity on the right. Turnbull supplied freshness in midfield however it is fair to say Jota’s introduction was one that made the biggest impact.
The Portuguese constantly ran at the Madrid backline and when he was brought down just outside the hosts’ penalty area late in the match, a free kick was awarded to Celtic. Jota stepped up and fired with both pin-point accuracy and explosive power into the top left corner of the imposing Thibaut Courtois’ goal.
Albeit this strike was no more than a consolation, the 23 year old appeared a tad emotional as he celebrated and it is no wonder – he’d just scored free kick at the Bernabeu, a moment he’ll cherish for the rest of his career.
Going forward, Jota will almost certainly start for Celtic against Dundee United on Saturday after coming off the bench and scoring in each of the Hoops’ last two games.
Now that it’s over, Celtic can look back on their 2022/23 Champions League season with an aura of pride. The Hoops undoubtedly competed in Europe’s premier club competition despite finishing bottom of their group with just two points.
Ahead of next season in Europe, there are plenty of curves for the Bhoys to learn from but also some positives to take.