‘Small margins’ - Matt O’Riley fears Celtic Champions League history repeating itself after Lazio heartbreak

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The midfielder was left to dissect another hugely disappointing night in the Champions League for the Hoops.

Heartbroken Matt O’Riley fears Champions League history is repeating itself for Celtic after their last-gasp 2-1 defeat to Lazio on Matchday Two of the group stage.

The Hoops were denied their first point of the campaign by conceding a dramatic 96th-minute Pedro winner for the Serie A outfit, leaving Brendan Rodgers’ men sitting rock-bottom of Group E after two games.

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Japanese striker Kyogo Furuhashi had given the Hoops a dream start inside the opening 15 minutes and set them on course for a first home group stage win since 2013, but Lazio equalised midway through the first half through Matias Vecino’s close-range header which crossed the line, despite Joe Hart’s best efforts to keep the ball out.

Matt O’Riley of Celtic challenges Mattia Zaccagni of SS LazioMatt O’Riley of Celtic challenges Mattia Zaccagni of SS Lazio
Matt O’Riley of Celtic challenges Mattia Zaccagni of SS Lazio

Substitute Pedro then looped an excellent header over Hart into the far corner of the net in the dying moments to deliver the ultimate sucker punch in a match which Celtic had plenty of control in for large spells.

A distraught O’Riley, who threaded a tremendous pass through for Kyogo’ first Champions League goal, was left to reflect on another devastating European defeat.

“I don’t feel great, obviously. Pretty upset to be honest,” the midfielder replied when asked for his assessment of the match. “The game was in our hands pretty much right up until the end, and once again it’s fine moments.

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“We’ve got four games to try to put things right but it’s frustrating being in this position again, quite similar to last year. I thought we played well but it wasn’t enough. It probably is those small margins at this level.

“I thought that was as good as we’ve played Champions League-wise. We were solid defensively for most of the game. Conceding that late it’s not nice at all. I’m not really sure what happened for the goal, I heard someone mention something about offside but I’m sure they got it right.

“I thought the fans were amazing as usual. They kept us going right until the end. We’re really disappointed. We said before the game that these were the games we needed to win, especially when you’ve got 60,000 behind you. They’re basically the 12th man. I thought they did that.

“We put ourselves in a great position to win it and I thought we nicked it with Luis’ goal but it wasn’t to be.”

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