Were Celtic robbed or just naive?

Celtic Champions League 2]

Last night’s Champions League clash at Celtic Park was frustrating for Celtic fans as they watched their teams’ hopes of progressing past the last-16 of the competition fade.

Neil Lennon’s boys were beaten 3-0 at home on the night, despite an excellent performance in the first half.

Lennon complained of refereeing decisions not going their way after the game and it’s fair to say his side could have easily been given a penalty or even two for Stephan Lichtsteiner’s ‘manhandling’ of Gary Hooper in Juventus’ six-yard box.

"They were being manhandled. They were being fouled. It's not rugby we're playing," said Lennon.

"Are the rules different in Spain or in Italy? On that showing, they must be."

Whilst I agree to some extent with the Celtic boss that Juventus were indeed all over their players on every set-piece, it’s also important to point out that Juventus won by three goals without reply.

That doesn’t happen by accident – Antonio Conte’s team were well-drilled, composed, controlled and show their experience to get that scoreline. Yes, Celtic could have had a penalty given by the referee who wasn’t prepared to make the call, despite issuing 4 yellow cards for clear ‘argy-bargy’.

However, Celtic lost their concentration at the back in just the third minute and, subsequently, heaped pressure on themselves. Equally, they had numerous opportunities to get themselves back in the game in the first half.

Overall they had 17 shots of which 10 were on-target and whilst Gianluigi Buffon was typically solid in the Juve goal, it was more down to Celtic’s insufficient finishing that they didn’t score.

Had Kris Common and Gary Hooper gotten them a goal in the first half, they could have saved the tie and even won the game. Until the last 20 minutes, they dominated possession and penned the Italians back into their own half.

But, again, lapses in concentration cost them dear for the second and third goals late in the second half. I, personally, was willing Celtic to get back on level terms but the result was, in many ways, self-inflicted.

Were Celtic robbed? I don’t think so, unfortunately, I think they were exposed as naïve by an experienced and intelligent Juventus team who now only have to protect their advantage on the return leg in Turin.

images: © easylocum, © celticphotos

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