The archetypal hurdle, and it was a sizeable hurdle, has proved excessively overmuch for Australian manager Ange Postecoglou astatine Celtic. The Scottish champions person crashed retired of the UEFA Champions League 2nd circular qualifying signifier aft a 2-1 extra-time nonaccomplishment to FC Midtjylland.
Devastatingly for the erstwhile Socceroos boss, it was a acquainted Aussie look that turned the lucifer astir and broke Celtic fans' hearts: Awer Mabil.
The equation for the Scottish giants earlier the lucifer was clear, but the task was acold from simple.
In conscionable his 2nd competitory crippled successful charge, Postecoglou had to instrumentality his broadside to Denmark and get a triumph against a well-respected squad that has won 3 of the past 7 Danish championships.
The prize connected connection was a spot successful the 3rd qualifying circular of the UEFA Champions League. It would enactment Celtic conscionable 4 games distant from the coveted radical signifier and the €15,250,000 ($A24.5 million) successful prize wealth the 32 teams person conscionable for qualifying.
Money that is desperately needed to overhaul an under-strengthened squad.
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Postecoglou's broadside had impressed successful the 1-1 gully archetypal limb past week. However, the Australian made 2 changes to his starting XI. Mistake-prone goalkeeper Vasilios Barkas was dropped for Scott Bain and the suspended Nir Bitton was replaced by 18-year-old Dane Murray.
It says arsenic overmuch astir Celtic's mismanagement successful caller years arsenic it does astir Postecoglou's religion successful his younger players that the 51-time Scottish champions' mean property for their starting line-up successful this lucifer was 23.6 years-old.
"No astonishment Celtic going out," Celtic fable Chris Sutton tweeted astatine full-time. "Ange Postecoglou has been dealt the worst manus of immoderate Celtic manager successful the past 20 years. The powers that beryllium should beryllium ashamed of dealing him this hand. Years of acting excessively dilatory and bringing successful players excessively precocious but this play is thing else."
It was a sentiment shared by galore successful Glasgow.
"I consciousness for Ange Postecoglou," Tom English, BBC Scotland's main sports writer said. "He indispensable beryllium wondering what he's got himself into. Celtic's signing argumentation is simply a joke. It's an utter shambles."
Postecoglou opted to permission Socceroos midfielder Tom Rogic connected the bench, similar helium did for the archetypal match, but determination was a commencement for Midtjylland's Aussie Mabil who had been subbed connected successful the archetypal leg.
The erstwhile Adelaide United winger came successful for the suspended Anders Dreyer. In a tense archetypal half, it was the mobile Mabil who looked astir unsafe for the Danish side.
As is often the lawsuit with Postecoglou's team, Celtic had the bulk of possession successful the archetypal half, nevertheless they were incapable to make immoderate wide chopped chances. The absorption connected possession is not lone an violative tactic, though; it besides meant that Midtjylland couldn't get the shot and onslaught what is simply a questionable Celtic defence. The Hoops conceded six successful a affable connected Saturday against English Premier League broadside West Ham anterior to this match.
The archetypal fractional was uneventful, but the 2nd was pulsating.
Just 2 minutes in, Celtic skipper Callum McGregor gave his broadside a pb with an unthinkable goal. Midtjylland had managed to caput distant Celtic's country but lone arsenic acold arsenic McGregor who was waiting astatine the borderline of the box. The 28-year-old controlled the shot with his thorax earlier launching an unthinkable first-time volley into the acold country past erstwhile Premier League goalkeeper Jonas Lossl.
Celtic deserved the lead, some connected the nighttime and crossed the tie, and successful emblematic Postecoglou benignant they pushed for a second. Substitute James Forrest came disconnected the seat successful the 60th infinitesimal and astir instantly had a accidental to marque it 2-0 aft immoderate bully enactment from David Turnbull and Odsonne Edouard. Forrest fluffed his lines, and Celtic were made to pay.
One infinitesimal later, erstwhile La Liga winger Pione Sisto curled a unsafe transverse into the container close onto the caput of Mabil who nodded the shot past Bain to marque it 1-1.
The extremity showcased Mabil's intelligent question coming inside, and this lucifer was a large illustration of however acold his crippled has travel from erstwhile helium near the A-League successful 2015.
Mabil, who had fallen retired of favour astatine Midtjylland and saw his crippled clip reduced past season, slapped his thorax and roared successful celebration, firing up the socially distanced assemblage who were up connected their feet chanting his name.
It proved to beryllium the turning constituent of the match. Up until that point, Midtjylland hadn't been capable to make 1 wide opportunity, 16 minutes aft scoring Mabil astir made it 2-1 but his almighty volley astatine the backmost station was charged down by a Celtic defender.
"We controlled the crippled until they scored," Postecoglou said aft the match. "Then the momentum changed. If it was 2-0 to us, past the crippled would person been different."
With conscionable 7 minutes remaining, Forrest was again presented with a fantastic accidental to people Celtic's 2nd aft a superb first-time shot from Ryan Christie, but Forrest failed to get his changeable distant successful time.
Postecoglou would person been relieved to spot Mabil subbed disconnected successful the 88th infinitesimal arsenic the crippled looked destined for extra-time. The manager from Melbourne would person been adjacent much relieved to spot Mabil's replacement, Victor Lind, squander a aureate accidental to triumph the lucifer for the Danish broadside successful the 92nd minute.
With the people locked astatine 1-1 connected the nighttime and 2-2 connected aggregate the lucifer went to extra-time. Midtjylland had the momentum and capitalised astir instantly aft the restart.
In the 3rd infinitesimal of extra-time, Brazilian attacking midfielder Evander produced a wonderful, chipped curling walk into the way of winger Mads Hansen who slid the shot archetypal clip into the feet of Nigerian defender Raphael Onyedika who managed to occurrence an off-balanced changeable into the apical country to marque it 2-1.
It was a bitter stroke for Celtic, but successful information the Danish broadside had deserved the pb aft dominating the crippled pursuing Mabil's equaliser.
Postecoglou yet brought connected Rogic successful the 97th infinitesimal successful the anticipation that the 'Wizard of Oz', arsenic helium is often referred to successful Glasgow, could find an equaliser. There would beryllium nary magic tonight.
The lucifer finished 2-1 overmuch to the delight of the location crowd. For each the disapproval of the playing squad assembled by the board, Postecoglou was keen to support his players.
"We conscionable got bushed successful the end," Postecoglou said astatine full-time. "They scored and got done it. I thought my players gave their maximum. It's the opening of what we're trying to embark on.
"Catastrophic means the end. It's acold from the end. It's been suggested that the nine is falling apart. That's not the case. I can't inquire much of the players.
"I instrumentality responsibility, I don't blasted people."
The Aussie manager has already won immoderate Celtic fans implicit with his benignant of play and diagnostic bluntness successful property conferences. However, Postecoglou knows that he'll person to commencement delivering results rapidly if helium is to beryllium a semipermanent occurrence astatine Celtic Park.
The club's adjacent crippled volition beryllium successful the opening circular of the Scottish Premiership against Hearts connected Sunday, August 1. The unit is already gathering arsenic Postecoglou plots a program to dethrone arch-rivals and defending champions Rangers.
While Australian fans volition beryllium disappointed to spot Postecoglou exit the prestigious competition, they tin undoubtedly instrumentality pridefulness successful the show of Mabil.
Born successful a exile campy successful Kenya to South Sudanese parents, Mabil arrived successful Australia with his household astatine the property of 10. After bursting connected the country successful the A-League, the fearless winger was connected his mode to Europe astatine the property of 20.
Last season, Mabil took connected European giants Liverpool, Ajax and Atalanta successful the Champions League radical signifier with Midtjylland. The Socceroo has erstwhile again played a captious relation successful putting his squad 1 measurement person to the biggest signifier successful nine football.
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