Celtic slumped to a 2-1 defeat in their opening Super Cup match against Sydney FC at the Allianz Stadium as Ange Postecoglou’s homecoming tour started in disappointing fashion.
The Hoops boss, who accepted a framed Football Australia Hall of Fame award before kick-off, named an unfamiliar-looking starting line-up with a number of fringe players including the likes of Benjamin Siegrist, Yosuke Ideguchi and Oliver Abildgaard all eager to impress for the Scottish champions.
The home side came into the first-ever meeting between the two sides having won just two of their opening six A-League matches so far this season and with their defence looking far from settled, the Glasgow giants were expected to score plenty of goals - a theme they have been no strangers to this term.
However, the Sky Blues were particularly impressive in the first-half, looking a threat going forward and creating the better opportunities during the opening 20 minutes. The crossbar came to Celtic and Siegrist’s rescue on two separate occasions.
It was the visitors who broke the deadlock after 23 minutes when Alexandro Bernabei’s driven effort deflected off Japanese striker Kyogo Furuhashi to wrongfoot back-up Sydney goalkeeper Thomas Heward-Belle.
Their lead didnt last long as Slovakian international Robert Mak equalised following a quick counter-attack moments later. The pacy winger raced past Stephen Welsh into the box before sliding the ball low past Siegrist into the bottom left-hand corner.
Celtic lacked creativity on occasions and weren’t at their attacking best, which was perhaps understandable given they only arrived in Australia just over 48 hours earlier. However, a flurry of half-time substitutions seemed to have the desired effect as they began to assert their dominance in the second half.
Just when it appeared they were starting to flex their muscles, Max Burgess curled a stunning effort beyond Siegrist to fire Sydney ahead against the run of play on the hour mark and an equaliser proved elusive for Celtic.
Here are GlasgowWorld’s player ratings...
BENJAMIN SIEGRIST - 7 - Had only started two games since pre-season, both in the League Cup. Got down well to smother Mak’s 11 minute strike and distribution was good. Could do little about either of the two goals he conceded.
ANTHONY RALSTON - 6 - A quiet match by his standards and looked a tad off the boil at times. Brought the ball forward at times in an inverted full-back role and had a header saved at the start of the second half.
STEPHEN WELSH - 5 - Outmuscled a bit too easily for Mak’s equaliser and produced a number of stray passes. Made a vital block towards the end of the first half before sustaining a head knock which ended his involvement.
CARL STARFELT - 7 - Looked calm and assured in throughout and made a big interception in the openng stages of the match. A positive display is another important game as he continues to build up his fitness.
ALEXANDRO BERNABEI - 6 - Involved in the opening goal as his shot took a wicked deflection off Kyogo. Questionable defensively at times and caught out of position on more than one occasion. Hooked at half-time.
OLIVER ABILDGAARD - 5 - The Danish holding midfield made his first start for the club after struggling for game-time since arriving on loan from Rubin Kazan. Seemed to tire as the first-half wore on and passing let him down. Celtic struggled to build out from the back and he was another replaced at the break.
YOSUKE IDEGUCHI - 6 - His first appearance since pre-season and controlled the midfield well. Always willing to move the ball at speed where possible before being subbed off after 45 minutes.
DAVID TURNBULL - 7 - Kept things neat and tidy in the middle of the park. Had an effort from distance tipped over the bar moments before Celtic opened the scoring. Good range of passing on show and looked a threat.
LIEL ABADA - 6 - His electric pace and movement caused the hosts a few problems and will feel he should’ve got on the scoresheet after getting in behind but his lobbed effort sailed wide of the target.
JAMES FORREST - 7 - Wearing the captain’s armband, the Scotland international was a constant threat in the first half and looked as though he could make things happen. Sent a few dangerous ball into the box which his team-mates couldn’t get on the end of.
KYOGO FURUHASHI - 8 - Much more like it from the Hoops talisman. Scored after diverting Bernabei’s shot off his chest into the net and played on the shoulder of the Sydney’s defender. Led the line well and almost doubled the lead when seeing his attempt well saved.
REO HATATE - 7 - Half-time replacement for Ideguchi and showed his quality in flashes. Didn’t put a foot wrong.
MATT O’RILEY - 7 - Brought on for Abildgaard at the break and helped to up the intensity. Dictated the play in midfield.
GREG TAYLOR - 5 - Like for like change for Bernabei at half-time and should’ve done better at Sydney’s second goal. Allowed Burgess to drift inside.
SEAD HAKSABANOVIC - 6 - On for Abada at the interval and saw a few attempts on goal deflected away to sfaety. Made a positive contribution.
JOTA - 5 - Introduced in place of Forrest at the break and forced a key save from the keeper on 55 mins. Skied another chance over the top.
SCOTT ROBERTSON - 5 - On for Turnbull after 66 mins and displayed plenty of enthusiasm on his first appearance for a long time. Moved around the pitch well.
ROCCO VATA - 4 - A regular start for the Hoops B team, the 17-year-old led the line after replacing Kyogo on 66 mins and had a few nice touches without looking likely to score.
BOSUN LAWAL - 5 - Republic of Ireland youth international replaced head knock victim Welsh on 78 mins and carried out his task well, seeing plenty of the ball in the latter stages.
Scott Bain (GK)