Celtic headed into this Champions League campaign full of optimism. Fans felt their side had a genuine chance of progressing from an open-looking section containing holders Real Madrid, RB Leipzig and Shakhtar Donetsk.
The one burning question on everyone’s lips was whether Ange Postecoglou’s relentless attacking style of play would hold up against some of Europe’s elite clubs.
Two points from a possible 18, just four goals scored and 15 conceded in six group games would suggest not as the Hoops’ winless campaign meant they finished up with their lowest ever points tally.
The Scottish champions won several plaudits for their efforts but will ultimately look back on a campaign of missed chances. Celtic have undoubtedly been competitive for spells in all six matches and Postecoglou will feel that had his players taken a few more of the endless list of opportunities they created, then some of those scorelines may well have had a more positive outcome.
A rough lesson in clinical finishing has been dished out by their three opponents, none more so than against the defending European champions in their own back yard. However, many of Postecoglou’s players haven’t looked out of place on their return to Europe’s top table after a five-year absence.
Kyogo Furuhashi will be scratching his head as to why he didn’t manage to break his Champions League scoring duck. Matt O’Riley was strutting his stuff against the Madridstas having turned out for EFL League One side MK Dons just 12 months ago. And Felipe Jota turned his European dream into reality by netting on the biggest stage.
Postecoglou will take heart from how far his players have come in a short period of time but the harsh reality is this team remain short of the quality needed to turn chances spurned into valuable points.
GlasgowWorld reflects on the three main talking points as Celtic bow out of European competition with a whimper...
Madrid dish out mauling
Los Blancos have had their name etched on the Champions League trophy a record 14 times and there is always something special about a Scottish club taking on Carlo Ancelotti’s side in the competition.
While this experience proved sobering for Celtic, it was a magical occasion for their supporters in the magnificent Santiago Bernabeu arena - more than four decades on from their last visit.
There was pressure on the home side to secure top spot in Group F to ensure they qualified for the knockout stages a sensational 27 seasons in a row and at this stage few would bet against them retaining the title they won narrowly against Liverpool last season.
One thing is for certain, Real Madrid don’t need a helping hand to set them on their way to victory but Celtic gave them one after conceding two penalties to leave them with a mountain to climb. Federico Valverde’s brilliant strike was the standout of the hosts’ five goals as he piled further pain on the visitors.
Mistakes & missed chances prove costly again
One aspect Ange Postecoglou’s side will have learn from this season is cutting out individual error must be a priority if they are to make strides in Europe.
Conceding a penalty after just four minutes is the last thing you want to do when facing a team of Madrid’s calibre at the Bernabeu. Mortiz Jenz got his body positioning all wrong as he tried to block Marco Asensio’s shot and the ball unfortunately struck his trailing arm. Luka Modric made no mistake from the spot.
The visitors’ struggled to settle and made their task even more impossible by giving away another spot-kick after 21 minutes. This time is seemed incredibly harsh on Matt O’Riley who was unfairly booked after Rodrygo’s strike a goal came at the midfielder from point-blank range. O’Riley didn’t have enough time to move his arm out of the way and after a VAR check, the penalty was awarded.
Thereafter, it was a case of damage limitation for Celtic. A similar story occured as they failed to finish off a few chances and when Juranovic fluffed his lines from the penalty spot, it summed up and evident theme. An inability to capitlise on opportunities highlighted the gulf in quality between the sides.
Jota enjoys moment to savour
On a night of very few plus points for Celtic, Portuguese winger Jota made another impressive substitute appearance as he continues his recovery from a recent muscular injury.
The 23-year-old previously admitted he had dreamed of scoring in the Champions League and there’s no better occasion to do just that than inside the iconic Santiago Bernabeu against the Madridistas - despite his team being 5-0 down.
The 23-year-old looked sharp and was always willing to get on the ball as often as he could, displaying flashes of brilliance. Then came a moment of crafted genius.
Jota gave the large travelling support something to cheer when he curled a stunning free-kick past Thibaut Courtois at his front post for his fourth European goal in 10 games - a lovely moment to share with his team mates.