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Nine-man Celtic lose 2-0 to ruthless Feyenoord in Champions League opener

A ruthless Feyenoord beat an indisciplined Celtic 2-0 in a scrappy Champions League Group E encounter Tuesday with the Scottish champions hit by two red cards in the space of five minutes.

Celtic started brightly but never recovered from losing Swedish defender Gustaf Lagerbielke and Norway’s Odin Thiago Holm to a straight red card for a late challenge mid-way through the second half.

Feyenoord’s Iranian striker Alireza Jahanbakhsh sealed the win for the Dutch champions in the 76th minute, finishing off a well-worked move by smashing the ball past Hoops keeper Joe Hart.

The hosts had taken the lead with only one minute left in first-half injury time, Dutch international Calvin Stengs drilling a long-range free kick through a poorly constructed Celtic wall and beating Hart, who was only able to palm the ball into the side netting.

It was a bitter pill for Celtic, who enjoyed the best of the first half in which the Dutch champions lacked penetration, clearly missing prolific goalscorer Santiago Gimenez, who was suspended.

Lashing rain and wind did not dampen the spirits, with a capacity 51,000 crowd at the Feyenoord stadium in Rotterdam, better known as “De Kuip” or “The Tub”, giving the Celtic players a hostile reception throughout.

Feyenoord came into the match on a superb run of form, unbeaten in the Dutch top flight and scoring at least five goals in their last three games.

But it was the visitors that enjoyed the better of the opening exchanges with chances for Japan international striker Daizen Maeda and summer signing Luis Palma from Honduras, making his Celtic debut.

It was deep into the first half until Feyenoord created anything dangerous, 19-year old Gambian striker Yankuba Minteh forcing Hart to tip the ball over the bar from long range.

But Dutch under-21 international midfielder Quinten Timber won a free kick some 30 yards out, giving Stengs the chance to send Arne Slot’s men the happier into the half-time break.

The home team were clearly galvanised by the half-time lead and looked much more dangerous after the break.

Hoops manager Brendan Rodgers rang the changes early on in the second half, but any serious challenge was quashed by the two red cards. 

Hart did make amends for his earlier miss with a 65th minute penalty save from Igor Paixao after Lagerbielke held back the Brazilian striker in the box.

Feyenoord could have had a third but defender Lutsharel Geertruida had his effort ruled out for offside. Another Feyenoord goal was ruled out in injury time, also for offside.

The two sides have a proud European history, playing each other in the final of the European Cup in 1970, with Feyenoord winning 2-1 — the only time they have met in a competitive match.

But times have been harder more recently. Feyenoord have not qualified for the group stage of the Champions League since 2017-2018 when they finished bottom behind Manchester City, Napoli and Shakhtar Donetsk.

Celtic endured a miserable campaign last season in the Champions League, finishing bottom of their group and suffering a 5-1 drubbing at the hands of Real Madrid.

Standings provided by Sofascore

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