At the same time a truly unique event and also a relatively routine win for Real Madrid. Celtic Park happily displayed the deafening decibel levels a Champions League night should achieve, but the European champions reminded them of the level required to actually compete.
Those last words are why the 3-0 defeat is absolutely no shame for Celtic who should instead be proud of the way they performed.
That’s just the modern Champions League. Ange Postecoglou has also ensured that it’s a very modern Celtic.
They did more to Madrid than Chelsea did at home last season or even Paris Saint-Germain in the second half at the Bernabeu. There were long periods – and some tantalizingly exciting moments – when it seemed something even more special might be about to happen. Celtic had the chances. It’s just that Madrid would always have the crucial quality as they didn’t take it.
In that respect, too, it was a classic European night. If you don’t take your chances, the best sites will punish you.
Shortly after Daizen Maeda missed the best opportunity of the game, Madrid decided Celtic had enough chances.
Vinicius Junior – and then Luka Modric and Eden Hazard – applied a bit of reality to an occasion that had captured the imagination.
Because of this, despite the clinical quality of Madrid’s goals, the climax of the game came before it even started. That was the deafening roar that greeted the Champions League anthem and continued through it, complete with a light show. Something like this has rarely happened. It certainly made a big difference to the number of stadiums booing it.
It was about something much bigger than individual complaints. Celtic fully understand what it means to be here. That roar wasn’t just a celebration of their return to the Champions League after a five-year absence. It was a tribute to the 67-year history of which this club is such a mythical part.
Postecoglou certainly let them play to live up to that legacy. There was no doubt, hesitation or anything like fear of the European champion. There was only the healthiest disrespect as Celtic showed so much good about Postecoglou’s football. They were both intense and complicated, Reo Hatate suddenly carving a hole in Madrid’s defense after a fierce pressing with a precise ball. Callum McGregor then nearly broke the game open with a thunderclap from inside the post from long range.
There was a point where Toni Kroos had to get on the ball and slow down the game just to try and disrupt Celtic’s energy.
In an evening so reminiscent of the 1960s, the Postecoglou side toyed with the adventure typical of the era.
That could not completely overcome the characteristics of the modern game. While Madrid have had stars trying to win the World Cup, Celtic have had players at different stages in their careers like Liel Abada and then Daizen Maeda.
While both performed their roles with rigor, there were some signs that the climax of the event was affecting their game. Abada came after him three times only to fail him in his simple execution.
What a moment it would have been if the Israeli striker carried the emotional dynamic of the build-up right into that electric first Celtic attack. With the stadium poised to erupt, Abada ended erratically.
Maeda, who came on as a half-time substitute, was no better in a similar position. After Josip Juranovic drilled a volley over the goal, the substitute could only fumble his shot.
After Celtic made it to Madrid admirably, the European champions decided it was time to get them down to earth.
The relentless Federico Valverde first showed Madrid’s strength quite literally, capturing the ball in the center of the pitch and then purposefully striding forward. In a move similar to the goal that won the Champions League final, Valverde deflected the ball exquisitely across the box to allow Vinicius to corner the ball so clinically.
Madrid were in the mood now and Hazard was on form. Substituting for the injured Karim Benzema, which was the only negative note from the Spanish side that night, the Belgian playmaker could possibly have given them a big positive.
It might only have been against Celtic, but that was the kind of performance that was missing from his time at Madrid. Admittedly, his first big moment was more about Modric’s graduation. After Hazard fought his way down the middle, the Croatian took the ball to take his breath away, once again showing crucial skill on the outside of the right foot.
After such an individual brilliant goal, Madrid then conjured up a collective highlight: A fluid passing game naturally went through Kroos, who of course picked out Dani Carvajal with a high ball. Celtic had been opened when Hazard had closed it.
Meanwhile, the Parkhead crowd continued to sing with quite a din. However, the big teams keep winning.
It is ironic that an occasion like this was so precious and yet predictable. This is the modern Champions League. Celtic have at least shown that they have the most modern managers well suited to classic European nights.
https://www.independent.co.uk/sport/football/celtic-real-madrid-result-final-score-hazard-b2160899.html Result Celtic vs. Real Madrid: Final result, goals, highlights and match report of the Champions League