Celtic beaten by Anderlecht but qualify for Europa League

Celtic defender Jozo Simunovic

Celtic defender Jozo Simunovic deflected Pieter Gerkens’ header into his own net

Celtic qualified for the Europa League knockout stages despite losing to Anderlecht in Champions League Group B.

Defender Jozo Simunovic scored a second-half own goal to hand victory to the Belgian side.

However Celtic finished third, level on points with Anderlecht but with a better head-to-head record after a 3-0 win in Belgium, meaning their opponents needed a win by three or more.

Celtic were outplayed for periods, but James Forrest’s effort was just wide.

The Belgians had to match Celtic’s win in Brussels in order to give themselves a shot at snatching third place and the spot in the Europa League last 32.

Celtic defender Jozo Simunovic<!–

Jozo Simunovic came close to equalising for Celtic, with a shot that flew just over

They downplayed their chances in the lead up to the game, but there was a touch of the bluff about their language and a touch of menace about the way they began the game.

Anderlecht were slick, whereas Celtic were sloppy. The Belgian side had an urgency that suggested they didn’t believe they were on a hopeless mission.

Inside two minutes they created a great opportunity, Henry Onyekuru squaring for Sven Kums, whose drilled shot was beaten away by Craig Gordon.

A dozen minutes later they had another moment that sent concern around Celtic Park. Adrien Trebel’s scissors kick was handily dealt with by Gordon, but it was the ease with which Anderlecht were finding space that was troubling for Celtic.

The visitors did not have the players to carry a sufficiently serious threat of overturning the odds, but Celtic made their own lives difficult with their wastefulness in possession.

Celtic striker Moussa Dembele<!–

Celtic striker Moussa Dembele had a quiet night and eventually hobbled off with a slight injury

They gave the ball away constantly and grew jumpy. Without a home win in the group stages of the Champions League (and the Europa League) in 10 games stretching back more than three years, this was not what the home support had in mind for the night.

Brendan Rodgers changed it at the break, bringing in Olivier Ntcham and Tom Rogic for Stuart Armstrong and Scott Sinclair. The irony was that at a time when they started finding some confidence, accuracy and threat – Ntcham and Forrest had decent attempts – they fell behind.

It was soft, too. Dennis Appiah flighted a cross into the box where Pieter Gerkens and Simunovic competed for it. Gerkens got his head to it first, the ball then taking a deflection off Simunovic’s shoulder and into the far corner of Gordon’s net. An unfortunate goal, but such a basic one to concede.

Celtic captain Scott Brown<!–

Celtic captain Scott Brown became the Scottish player with the most European Cup appearances, in his 69th game in the competition

Celtic had a couple of half-chances to take any heat out of the situation but couldn’t put them away. Sofiane Hanni could have put the wind up Celtic in a major way, but Gordon made the save.

Hein Vanhaezebrouck, the Anderlecht manager, brought striker Lukasz Teodorczyk on and went with three up front in pursuit of the two goals he needed. It didn’t work. Anderlecht never again looked like putting the frighteners on Rodgers’ team.

They’d already done their work in Brussels, and it was just as well, because this was poor stuff from Celtic. It was a fifth loss from six Champions League games and a failed opportunity to improve Rodgers’ record in the group stage, which stands at one win, three draws and eight losses.

What they do have, of course, is a place in the Europa League. That was the goal at the outset and they have achieved it.

Celtic will be unseeded in Monday’s draw, but they have European football after Christmas. On a dispiriting night, that bottom line offered comfort.

Live Text

Match ends, Celtic 0, RSC Anderlecht 1.

Second Half ends, Celtic 0, RSC Anderlecht 1.

Corner, RSC Anderlecht. Conceded by Kieran Tierney.

Substitution, RSC Anderlecht. Massimo Bruno replaces Dennis Appiah.

Olivier Ntcham (Celtic) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

Lukasz Teodorczyk (RSC Anderlecht) wins a free kick on the right wing.

Foul by Olivier Ntcham (Celtic).

Attempt saved. Olivier Ntcham (Celtic) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the bottom left corner.

Foul by Adrien Trebel (RSC Anderlecht).

Tomas Rogic (Celtic) wins a free kick on the left wing.

Corner, Celtic. Conceded by Adrien Trebel.

Foul by Lukasz Teodorczyk (RSC Anderlecht).

Dedryck Boyata (Celtic) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by Uros Spajic (RSC Anderlecht).

Odsonne Edouard (Celtic) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Substitution, RSC Anderlecht. Lukasz Teodorczyk replaces Pieter Gerkens.

Attempt missed. Adrien Trebel (RSC Anderlecht) left footed shot from outside the box is too high. Assisted by Dennis Appiah.

Attempt saved. Sofiane Hanni (RSC Anderlecht) left footed shot from outside the box is saved in the centre of the goal. Assisted by Adrien Trebel.

Attempt saved. Mikael Lustig (Celtic) header from the centre of the box is saved in the top centre of the goal. Assisted by Olivier Ntcham.

Foul by Adrien Trebel (RSC Anderlecht).

Olivier Ntcham (Celtic) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

Substitution, RSC Anderlecht. Josué replaces Kara.

Substitution, Celtic. Odsonne Edouard replaces Moussa Dembele.

Foul by Henry Onyekuru (RSC Anderlecht).

James Forrest (Celtic) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Attempt missed. Moussa Dembele (Celtic) right footed shot from the left side of the box misses to the left. Assisted by Kieran Tierney.

Hand ball by Ivan Obradovic (RSC Anderlecht).

Attempt blocked. Olivier Ntcham (Celtic) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by Tomas Rogic.

Attempt missed. Jozo Simunovic (Celtic) right footed shot from the centre of the box is high and wide to the left. Assisted by Dedryck Boyata with a headed pass following a set piece situation.

Foul by Dennis Appiah (RSC Anderlecht).

Kieran Tierney (Celtic) wins a free kick on the left wing.

Offside, RSC Anderlecht. Kara tries a through ball, but Pieter Gerkens is caught offside.

Own Goal by Jozo Simunovic, Celtic. Celtic 0, RSC Anderlecht 1.

Attempt missed. Pieter Gerkens (RSC Anderlecht) header from the right side of the box misses to the left. Assisted by Dennis Appiah with a cross.

Corner, Celtic. Conceded by Dennis Appiah.

Attempt saved. Jozo Simunovic (Celtic) right footed shot from the centre of the box is saved in the centre of the goal. Assisted by Olivier Ntcham with a cross.

Corner, Celtic. Conceded by Frank Boeckx.

Attempt saved. James Forrest (Celtic) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the bottom right corner. Assisted by Kieran Tierney.

Offside, RSC Anderlecht. Kara tries a through ball, but Pieter Gerkens is caught offside.

Attempt saved. Moussa Dembele (Celtic) right footed shot from the left side of the box is saved in the top left corner. Assisted by Olivier Ntcham.

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