Match report as Feyenoord beat Celtic 2-0 in their Champions League opener; Calvin Stengs’ free kick gives the hosts the lead; Gustaf Lagerbielke was sent off and Thiago Odin Holm was also red; Alireza Jahanbakhsh made it 2-0; Feyenoord also missed a penalty and had two goals disallowed
By Alison Conroy, digital sports journalist @AlisonGConroy
11:54 p.m., United Kingdom, Tuesday September 19, 2023
Celtic’s second-half implosion saw them reduced to nine players against Feyenoord as they once again failed to secure an away win in the Champions League.
They started brightly and had Daizen Maeda threatening early on, but Calvin Stengs’ free-kick stunned the Hoops just before half-time.
This brought the Dutch champions to life and Gustaf Lagerbielke conceded a penalty and received a second yellow card before Joe Hart saved the penalty.
The evening then went from bad to worse with substitute Odin Thoago Holm showing a straight red for a reckless challenge.
Alireza Jahanbakhsh wrapped up the win for Feyenoord, who also saw their efforts denied either side of that goal.
A dismal evening against the Dutch
Centre-back Lagerbielke was one of two summer signings in Celtic’s starting line-up, with Nat Phillips ruled out with an ankle injury. The other, winger Luis Palma, made his first start for the club.
There was a lively atmosphere inside De Kuip for the first meeting between the sides since Feyenoord’s triumph in the 1970 European Cup final and the first Champions League match at the stadium for six seasons.
Celtic took the lead in the atmosphere with a positive start and Reo Hatate had the first shot on target after the Hoops won the ball at the top of the park, but his effort lacked power.
Celtic continued to look comfortable and could have made more use of their possession if Hatate and Maeda had been more precise on the ball at times.
The hosts rarely threatened to go behind in the first half hour and the one time they did, Alistair Johnston came in to cover.
Hatate’s pass put Matt O’Riley behind, but his ball to Kyogo Furuhashi was cut out and Hart made his first save in the 34th minute when he pushed away Yankuba Minteh’s long-range strike.
Maeda broke away and saw a dangerous effort pushed wide despite being fouled when shooting.
The Japan international was soon guilty of a counter-attack the other way after stopping in anticipation of a throw-in as Johnston kept the ball, but Hart saved from Quilindschy Hartman.
Celtic looked deservedly ready to head into the dressing room before O’Riley awarded a free-kick. Celtic’s wall failed to provide much protection, especially as Furuhashi inadvertently moved away from the ball as he jumped. Stengs’ shot flew away from Hart, with the goalkeeper unable to keep it out despite getting a hand on it.
Palma cut inside and saw their shot saved after the break before Holm connected with Hyun-jun Yang in the 58th minute.
However, Celtic were soon reduced to 10 men. Lagerbielke had been booked in the first half for bringing down an opponent after his own poor control, and the Swede caught Igor Paixao around the throat with his arm as he tried to push the striker in the box.
Hart saved Paixao’s penalty by diving to his right.
Brendan Rodgers brought in midfielder Tomoki Iwata for Furuhashi to play alongside Liam Scales in central defense.
Celtic’s task became even more difficult when Holm launched into a challenge and caught Mats Wieffer high on his shin. The visitors were rightly frustrated that Bosnian referee Irfan Peljto had failed to give Scales a clear foul seconds earlier, but there was little doubt about the red card decision that followed.
Stengs allowed Lutsharel Geertruida to score from the resulting free-kick, but the goal was ruled out for offside following a VAR check.
The extra man counted in the 76th minute, however, when Jahanbakhsh fired high into the net from 12 yards – and the closing stages were all about limiting the damage for Celtic.
Rodgers: The players showed great attitude and courage
Brendan Rodgers, Celtic manager:
“What we showed in the game is that we are going to be competitive. We started very well. We looked a threat and progressed the ball well. With better decisions we might have had the opportunity to take advantage.
“Unfortunately for us, we had two players sent off. It’s a difficult level at 11 versus 11. The players continued, it was hard for them.
“The players showed great attitude and courage to play. The first 60 minutes we were well in the game. The players never gave up.
“With the return of one or two more players, we hope it will put us in a very good position for the rest of the competition.”
Opta Stats – Celtic flee on the road
- After beating Napoli in their last UEFA Champions League match in 2017-18, Feyenoord have now won back-to-back matches in the competition for the first time since February 2000.
- Celtic have kept just one clean sheet in their 37 UEFA Champions League away matches, conceding 89 goals in those matches. Their record of 2.4 goals conceded per away game is the highest of any team that has played more than 30 times on the road in the competition.
- Calvin Stengs has been involved in six goals in his last four games for Feyenoord in all competitions, scoring two and assisting four.
- Gustaf Lagerbielke and Odin Holm were both sent off for Celtic five minutes apart in the second half of this game. The Bhoys had received just two red cards in their previous 72 UEFA Champions League matches combined.
Celtic return to the Scottish Premiership on Saturday at Livingston, live on Sky Sports. Kick-off at 12:30 p.m.
Their next Champions League match is at home against Lazio on October 4. Kick-off at 8 p.m.