The Scottish champions were beaten 3-2 by the Danish side in the first leg of their Champions League playoff tie.
The equalizer by Awer Mabil forced extra time.
Celtic’s Champions League dreams were dashed in the second qualifying round for the second year in a row, when a hapless team was defeated in extra time by Danish club Midtjylland.
After Callum McGregor’s spectacular volley had placed Celtic in ahead for the second time in the tie, Raphael Onyedika side-footed home the game-winning goal three minutes into the extra session.
Celtic’s defensive frailties cost them again, as Awer Mabil leveled the score before Onyedika pounced to send them to the Europa League.
Next week, they will play FK Jablonec of Czech Republic in the third qualifying round, while Midtjylland will face PSV Eindhoven in Europe’s top tournament.
The outcome emphasizes the enormity of Ange Postecoglou’s job in resurrecting a lightweight team.
Celtic’s pre-season has been dominated by discussion over the paucity of signings from fans, commentators, and Postecoglou himself, with quarantine also depriving them the services of Carl Starfelt and Kyogo Furuhashi.
The fact that they lined up with a defense with an average age of 21 told you all you needed to know, and the manager said it best this week when he stated the squad was “flying by the seat of its trousers.”
But, as last week in Glasgow, they looked more comfortable in the first half, and McGregor supplied the spark his team needed only two minutes into the second period when he grabbed the ball on his chest and hooked it into the top right-hand corner.
The goal was a work of art, and Celtic replacement James Forrest came agonizingly close to extending their lead on the hour mark when he slipped the ball wide following a brilliant run.
They were punished for their wastefulness, just as they were in the first leg when Edouard passed up a one-on-one. Midtjylland had not fired a shot at this time, but Mabil equalized two minutes after Forrest’s attempt.
The Australia international snuck between Dane Murray and Greg Taylor to head home a floating cross, highlighting the Celtic backline’s inexperience and the overall worry that has enveloped the club in recent months.
That only increased in confidence as the Danish team – cheered on by around 6,000 supporters – gained in confidence, and Victor Lind wasted a great opportunity to win the game in stoppage time when he eluded 18-year-old Murray.
Evander floated in another delivery, which Henrik Dalsgaard guided into Onyedika’s path, and the Nigerian had time to take a touch and dispatch from six yards out.
Evander was named Player of the Match.
With his excellent delivery, the Midtjylland number 10 posed a threat.
What did we discover?
Celtic are the farthest they’ve been from qualifying for the Champions League group stage in a long time. Despite a decade of dominance in Scotland, they have been more far from Europe’s top with each passing season.
It’s fair to assess the team’s performance on the field, but only in the context of the squad Postecoglou must manage.
Most Celtic supporters find it difficult to believe that their team would start a Champions League qualifying campaign with a centre-back pairing aged 18 and 21, no obvious first-choice full-backs or goalkeeper, and a striker in Edouard who plainly sees his career elsewhere. That isn’t even the most serious of their issues.
The club is rebuilding for the first time in two decades, with no head of recruiting and no sports director. Postecoglou claims he went into this job with his eyes wide open, and he’ll probably get away with it given the circumstances, but the magnitude of the task increases with each game.
There were hints of his high-pressing, vertical approach across both legs, but the Australian will need time and signings to succeed in the short to long term. It’ll undoubtedly be a rough journey.
What they had to say
‘To me, catastrophic signifies the end.’ This isn’t the conclusion of the story.’
Ange Postecoglou, Celtic manager: “In the end, we were just exhausted. They were successful in scoring and completing the task. My guys, I believed, gave their all. It’s only the start of what we’re attempting to do. We had the game within our control until they scored.”
What comes next?
Celtic don’t have much time to recover from this latest setback, as they face Hearts at Tynecastle on Saturday in the Scottish Premiership opener (20:00 BST).
FC Midtjylland is a Danish football club.
14Dalsgaard28Sviatchenko73Ferreira JniorDalsgaard28Sviatchenko73Ferreira JniorDalsgaard28Sviatchenko
6Andersson35 Silva Rigon Matos10da Rigon Matos10da Rigon Matos10da Ferreira da Silva Ferreira da Silva Ferreira da Silva Ferreira da Silva Ferreira da
11Mabil74dos Santos Jnior7SistoMabil74dos Santos Jnior7SistoMabil74dos Santos J
- 73Ferreira JniorSubstituted at 113’minutes forNicolaisen
- 6Andersson Coolsat 105’minutes was substituted for
- 35 Rigon Matos 59’minutesSubstituted for Onyedikaat
- Silva Ferreira, 10da It was scheduled for 53 minutes.
- Silva, 29da 89’minutes Substituted for Dyhrat
- 11Mabil 89’minutesSubstituted forLindat
- Jnior 74dos Santos Booked for 69 minutes Hansen was replaced after 77’minutes.
- 7Sisto Scheduled for 115 minutes
- 57WelshReserved for 21 minutes
- At 105’minutes, 3Taylor was substituted for Montgomery.
- At 105’minutes, 14Turnbull was substituted by Ajeti. Scheduled for 108 minutes
- 12Soro It was scheduled for 76 minutes. 98’minutes substituted for Rogicat
- Forrestat was replaced by 11Abada for 59 minutes.
- 22Edouard Scheduled for 93 minutes
Bartosz Frankowski is the official referee.
FC Midtjylland 2, Celtic 1 is the final score.
FC Midtjylland 2, Celtic 1 at the conclusion of the second half extra time.
FC Midtjylland has a corner. Adam Montgomery has confessed.
FC Midtjylland has a corner. Callum McGregor made the concession.
FC Midtjylland has a corner. Scott Bain made the concession.
The attempt has been saved. Victor Lind’s right-footed effort from the left side of the area is saved in the middle of the goal. Evander was a big help.
Ryan Christie was called for a foul (Celtic).
FC Midtjylland’s Pione Sisto earns a free kick on the right side.
The attempt was unsuccessful. Following a corner, Erik Sviatchenko’s left-footed effort from the middle of the box comes near, but misses to the left.
FC Midtjylland has a corner. Adam Montgomery has confessed.
FC Midtjylland’s Pione Sisto receives a yellow card for a harsh foul.
Celtic’s Albian Ajeti earns a free kick in the defensive half.
Pione Sisto commits a foul (FC Midtjylland).
FC Midtjylland has made a substitution. Juninho is replaced by Rasmus Nicolaisen.
Celtic’s Ryan Christie earns a free kick on the left flank.
Dion Cools commits a foul (FC Midtjylland).
Celtic’s Albian Ajeti receives a yellow card for a harsh foul.
Albian Ajeti was called for a foul (Celtic).
In the defensive half, Nikolas Dyhr (FC Midtjylland) earns a free kick.
In the defensive half, Ryan Christie (Celtic) earns a free kick.