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Celtic In Europe - 2016/2017 Part one

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Reidzo's take.

Celtic's adventures in European football this season must be considered a success for the reason that we qualified for the Champions League for the first time in three years. But as usual, our performances in Europe were a roller coaster mixture of success and failure.

Qualifying for the CL was as ever, extremely difficult, despite our presence in the 'champions route'. Our first qualifying game was away to the champions of Gibraltar, Lincoln Red Imps, a semi-professional team. An easy victory in Brendan Rodgers' first competitive game, right? Wrong, as we suffered a humiliating 1-0 defeat, thanks to some dreadful defending by Efe Ambrose and gutless performances from the rest of the team. The deficit was overturned 3-0 in the second leg at Celtic Park, but Rodgers was left under no illusions as to how difficult it would be to qualify for the Champions League.

The next round provided another tough test, as Celtic travelled all the way to Kazakhstan to face Astana, and we came away with a creditable 1-1 draw, thanks to a late goal from Leigh Griffiths. The second leg at Celtic Park turned into the usual nerve-shredder, as a Griffths penalty was cancelled out by Astana's Ibraimi, but thankfully a penalty in injury time from European talisman Moussa Dembele took Celtic through 3-2 on aggregate, and into the final play-off round.

The tie against Israeli champions Hapoel Be'er Sheva was possibly the toughest Celtic could have drawn, and to make matters worse the second leg was away from home. But all trouble seemed swept away when Celtic raced into a 3-0 lead in the first half at Parkhead. However, the familiar failings showed up once more as Hapoel scored twice in three minutes to make it 3-2, but the team showed courage lacking in previous years as goals from Dembele and Brown gave us a 5-2 lead to take to Israel.

The second leg was a nightmare in all honesty, as dreadful defensive errors gave Hapoel a 2-0 lead with 40 minutes to go. But Rodgers managed to shore things up, and the seemingly inevitable Hapoel equaliser never materialised, and only five weeks after losing to Red Imps Celtic had managed to qualify for the Champions League and all of its riches.

The draw for the CL group stages unfortunately put Celtic into a veritable group of death, alongside our old pals Barcelona, Pep Guardiola's Manchester City and the dangerous German side Borussia Monchengladbach, with our first game the toughest of all - Barcelona away.

Unfortunately the team seemed overawed by our Champions League debut, going down 7-0 to Barcelona in a bit of an embarrassment. Dembele did miss a penalty when it was only 1-0 but the ease with which Barca cut through the Celtic defence didn't inspire much confidence ahead of the next game, at home to Man City...

Celtic proved people wrong with their performance in the 3-3 draw with Man City, proving that they belong in European football's elite competition. The game was a thriller from start to finish, as Celtic went ahead three times - twice through Dembele - before being pegged back by a tough City side on each occasion. The game was probably Celtic's best performance in Europe since around 2008, and showed how far the team had come in short period of time, so hopes were high for Borussia's visit to Glasgow.

Unfortunately, Celtic just didn't turn up at home vs Munchengladbach, deservedly going down 2-0, both goals featuring errors by Kolo Toure. This game was probably the biggest disappointment of the campaign, as expectations were sky high but the team couldn't live up to the fans' expectations. In the return game Celtic's performance was far better, drawing 1-1 - the goal a penalty by the prolific Dembele - and blowing a golden chance for only our second away win in the Champions League as Callum McGregor missed an absolute sitter.

Celtic then faced Barcelona at Celtic Park, and we gave up any hope of getting anything out of the game after piping in the Barca team bus, showing them far too much respect. The game ended 2-0 Barca, both goals coming from Messi, and Celtic were out of Europe.

The final game ended as a creditable 1-1 draw with a Man City XI, Patrick 'Paddy' Roberts scoring our goal and being denied a clear penalty as we for the second away game running missed some great chances for a rare away win, Dembele and Mackay-Steven the culprits on this occasion.

Overall, Brendan Rodgers can be pleased with the progress made in Europe this season, as Celtic have returned to the big league after a couple of years in the wilderness. The tough group we found ourselves in killed any chances of staying in Europe after Christmas, but the performances at home to Man City and away to Munchengladbach point to a bright future ahead if this team can stay together. The poor performances away to Barca and at home to Munchengladbach did show that we still have issues to deal with though. Moussa Dembele enhanced his reputation no end with three goals in the group stages, we will surely get a load of money whenever he decides to leave - that's hopefully not for a while yet. The likes of Brown, Forrest and Gordon also turned in good performances, but the less said about Toure and the quickly jettisoned De Vries the better.

This was a good reintroduction back to the Champions League for Celtic, hopefully preparations are being made behind the scenes for next season's shot at Champions League glory.

Celtic's adventures in European football this season must be considered a success for the reason that we qualified for the Champions League for the first time in three years. But as usual, our performances in Europe were a roller coaster mixture of success and failure.

Qualifying for the CL was as ever, extremely difficult, despite our presence in the 'champions route'. Our first qualifying game was away to the champions of Gibraltar, Lincoln Red Imps, a semi-professional team. An easy victory in Brendan Rodgers' first competitive game, right? Wrong, as we suffered a humiliating 1-0 defeat, thanks to some dreadful defending by Efe Ambrose and gutless performances from the rest of the team. The deficit was overturned 3-0 in the second leg at Celtic Park, but Rodgers was left under no illusions as to how difficult it would be to qualify for the Champions League.

The next round provided another tough test, as Celtic travelled all the way to Kazakhstan to face Astana, and we came away with a creditable 1-1 draw, thanks to a late goal from Leigh Griffiths. The second leg at Celtic Park turned into the usual nerve-shredder, as a Griffths penalty was cancelled out by Astana's Ibraimi, but thankfully a penalty in injury time from European talisman Moussa Dembele took Celtic through 3-2 on aggregate, and into the final play-off round.

The tie against Israeli champions Hapoel Be'er Sheva was possibly the toughest Celtic could have drawn, and to make matters worse the second leg was away from home. But all trouble seem swept away when Celtic raced into a 3-0 lead in the first half at Parkhead. However, the familiar failings showed up once more as Hapoel scored twice in three minutes to make it 3-2, but the team showed courage lacking in previous years as goals from Dembele and Brown gave us a 5-2 lead to take to Israel.

The second leg was a nightmare in all honesty, as dreadful defensive errors gave Hapoel a 2-0 lead with 40 minutes to go. But Rodgers managed to shore things up, and the seemingly inevitable Hapoel equaliser never materialised, and only five weeks after losing to Red Imps Celtic had managed to qualify for the Champions League and all of its riches.

The draw for the CL group stages unfortunately put Celtic into a veritable group of death, alongside our old pals Barcelona, Pep Guardiola's Manchester City and the dangerous German side Borussia Monchengladbach, with our first game the toughest of all - Barcelona away.

Unfortunately the team seemed overawed by our Champions League debut, going down 7-0 to Barcelona in a bit of an embarrassment. Dembele did miss a penalty when it was only 1-0 but the ease with which Barca cut through the Celtic defence didn't inspire much confidence ahead of the next game, at home to Man City...

Celtic proved people wrong with their performance in the 3-3 draw with Man City, proving that they belong in European football's elite competition. The game was a thriller from start to finish, as Celtic went ahead three times - twice through Dembele - before being pegged back by a tough City side on each occasion. The game was probably Celtic's best performance in Europe since around 2008, and showed how far the team had come in short period of time, so hopes were high for Borussia's visit to Glasgow.

Unfortunately, Celtic just didn't turn up at home vs Munchengladbach, deservedly going down 2-0, both goals featuring errors by Kolo Toure. This game was probably the biggest disappointment of the campaign, as expectations were sky high but the team couldn't live up to the fans' expectations. In the return game Celtic's performance was far better, drawing 1-1 - the goal a penalty by the prolific Dembele - and blowing a golden chance for only our second away win in the Champions League as Callum McGregor missed an absolute sitter.

Celtic then faced Barcelona at Celtic Park, and we gave up any hope of getting anything out of the game after piping in the Barca team bus, showing them far too much respect. The game ended 2-0 Barca, both goals coming from Messi, and Celtic were out of Europe.

The final game ended as a creditable 1-1 draw with a Man City XI, Patrick 'Paddy' Roberts scoring our goal and being denied a clear penalty as we for the second away game running missed some great chances for a rare away win, Dembele and Mackay-Steven the culprits on this occasion.

Overall, Brendan Rodgers can be pleased with the progress made in Europe this season, as Celtic have returned to the big league after a couple of years in the wilderness. The tough group we found ourselves in killed any chances of staying in Europe after Christmas, but the performances at home to Man City and away to Munchengladbach point to a bright future ahead if this team can stay together. The poor performances away to Barca and at home to Munchengladbach did show that we still have issues to deal with though. Moussa Dembele enhanced his reputation no end with three goals in the group stages, we will surely get a load of money whenever he decides to leave - that's hopefully not for a while yet. The likes of Brown, Forrest and Gordon also turned in good performances, but the less said about Toure and the quickly jettisoned De Vries the better.