Daizen Maeda handed Celtic a Europa Conference League lifeline after his goal gave the hosts something to cling to in a dismal 3-1 first-leg defeat against Bodo/Glimt in the play-offs.
Goals from Runar Espejord, Amahl Pellegrino and Hugo Vetlesen left the Scottish Premiership leaders reeling, as Kjetil Knutsen’s side seized the advantage in Glasgow.
On the back of their Europa League exit last December, Ange Postecoglou’s hosts headed into the inaugural edition of UEFA’s newest competition, looking to deliver a positive result.
Yet they were rattled early on by the Eliteserien champions, who struck inside the first six minutes when Espejord turned Joe Hart the wrong way with a low close-range strike.
Celtic’s subsequent struggle to click in the final third left them labouring to respond before the break.
And an arguably lenient booking for a Pellegrino foul further frustrated their players.
The winger wasted little time after the restart to make the most of a potential escape, too.
When he latched onto Espejord’s flick to tuck another close-range finish into the net.
The arrival of Reo Hatate just beyond the hour mark saw Postecoglou’s side find a fresh burst of life.
And when Maeda cut the gap with a fine header, it looked like they had a chance to rally.
But the visitors promptly responded through Vetlesen’s deflected 20-yard strike to put any comeback to bed, taking a crucial upper hand into next week’s return fixture as they look to push on to the last 16.
What does it mean? Celtic is at risk of successive knockout blows.
Having dropped into the third tier of European football after a third-place Europa League group-stage finish,
the Bhoys welcomed their visitors with the hope of a statement resulting in a response.
Yet with nothing to show for their lacklustre efforts on a cold February night in Glasgow, They now find themselves facing the prospect of back-to-back European eliminations.
Despite their domestic dominance this term, Postecoglou’s side have failed to convince in two competitions now fully.
And unless they muster a significant response, they face another immediate exit.
Celtic return to domestic action in the Scottish Premiership, welcoming Dundee to Celtic Park.
Bodo/Glimt will bide their time for the reverse last-16 clash back home in Norway next week.
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