Postecoglou, Celtic’s Champions League hopes dented with Leipzig loss

Ange Postecoglou’s Celtic face an uphill battle to qualify for the Champions League knockout stages after a 3-1 Champions League defeat against RB Leipzig.

Christopher Nkunku opened the scoring from a 27th-minute counter-attack on Wednesday (Thursday AEDT) after Celtic lost the ball following a short corner.

Then, with captain Callum McGregor off injured, the visitors could not build on Jota’s equaliser.

Leipzig had just had a second goal disallowed following VAR’s intervention when goalkeeper Joe Hart presented the home team with the ball to allow Andre Silva to score the first of his two second-half goals.

The defeat leaves Celtic bottom of Group F with one point from three matches, but they do at least have both Leipzig and Shakhtar Donetsk to come at their Parkhead fortress in the next two games.

Cameron Carter-Vickers failed to make the game because of injury but the influential centre-back is likely to return for the reverse fixture next week.

Ange Postecoglou’s men must capitalise on their two coming home games to keep alive their hopes of progression.Credit:Getty

Nkunku was outstanding as Leipzig finally got off the mark in Group F after losses to Donetsk and Real Madrid.

The Frenchman had a goal ruled out through VAR for offside but showed his class just shy of the half-hour mark when he went past Hart and finished from a narrow angle.

Kyogo Furuhashi had just gone close for the visitors, who suffered a further blow when captain McGregor had to go off injured in the 37th.

Portuguese winger Jota equalised in the 47th when Furuhashi sent him through for a one-on-one with the Germans’ keeper.

Christopher Nkunku opened the scoring for Leipzig after having an earlier effort struck off.Credit:AP

Dominik Szoboszlai struck the post in response, then thought he scored with a shot from 20 metres inside the far post. But VAR again ruled it out as Silva had blocked Hart’s view.

The Celtic goalkeeper then gifted Leipzig their second, passing straight to Szoboszlai, who teed up Silva to put the hosts ahead in the 64th.

Then Nkunku shone again with a brilliant ball for Mohamed Simakan to tee up Silva to seal the result in the 77th.

In the other early game, Noah Okafor earned Salzburg a 1-0 win over Dinamo Zagreb by rolling in a coolly taken penalty to score for the third straight group game. A tight match was ultimately decided by a loss of concentration by Dinamo right back Sadegh Moharrami, who let Andreas Ulmer get in front of him and then grabbed the Salzburg captain around the neck to give away the spot kick.

AP

Watch every match of the UEFA Champions League, UEFA Europa League and UEFA Europa Conference League on Stan Sport. Matchday 3 continues with Arsenal v Bodø/Glimt (Friday 5.35am AEDT).

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