Celtic crash out of Champions League with loss to Malmo; Maccabi stun Basel

Celtic crashed out of the Champions League in Sweden with Malmo collecting a 2-0 win to advance 4-3 on aggregate. Star striker Markus Rosenberg slammed in a header in the 23rd minute after keeper Craig Gordon flapped at a corner and Dedryck Boyata redirected a Felipe Carvalho header into his own net to seal the deal.

The result will be especially bitter for the Scots considering that they held a commanding 3-1 lead deep into stoppage time last week at Celtic Park, only to cough up a critical late goal and hand Malmo the momentum. But poor defending off zonal marking was the Scots’ Achilles’ heel last week, and so it proved again tonight, with dreadful marking on set pieces costing them a slot in Europe’s grandest club competition for the second year running.

Last week’s game was not well-mannered, with some ugly fouls, cheap shots and simply clumsy tackles. The spikiness of the contest was further underscored by post-game comments made by Malmo keeper Jon Wiland, in which he referred to the Celtic players as "pigs."

Those comments which were forcefully if unconvincingly defended by Malmo manager Age Hareide on the hoary old ground of linguistic differences. Hareide bizarrely complained that Wiland’s comments were mistranslated, despite the fact that the quotes were made to Swedish outlets in Swedish, saying Monday: "A pig is something else in English than in Scandinavia. You have a word that starts with ‘f’ and ends with ‘k’. You say it all the time, you know. It means something else in Scandinavia." Well, sure.

The fact that Hariede and Celtic manager Ronny Delia are also old adversaries only added to the atmosphere surrounding the match, and so when kick off came, both teams seemed keyed up.

Celtic were on the back foot pretty quickly, however, with Jo Inge Berget and Rosenberg proving a real handful for Celtic’s back line. But Celtic had looks, with Leigh Griffiths coming the closest from an acute angle, only to see his shot hit side net.


But Malmo would find the breakthrough soon enough, with Yoshimar Yotun firing in a fine, fizzing corner that Rosenberg simply beat Virgil van Dijk to. Gordon had to bear some share of the blame as well, coming off his line and failing to collect the kick — but he was hardly helped out by the fact that three of his defenders stayed rooted while Rosenberg soared.

Celtic seemed to have snatched the lead back, however, just before the half but saw the goal inexplicably waved off by Serbian ref Molrad Mazic. Wiland came off his line to punch away a corner kick — and missed, allowing the ball to pinball around the box for Nir Bitton to tuck home from about seven yards. But delight swiftly turned to astonishment as Mazic, after consulting with the refs behind the goal, claimed Wiland had been fouled on the play. He hadn’t, and Celtic went to the dressing rooms aggrieved. 

Adding to Celtic’s sense of injustice, replays showed that Malmo defender Kari Arnason actually handled the ball as it came into the area — meaning the Scots should have at least had a penalty.

That’s not to say the Scots didn’t get some other breaks. Griffiths was involved in an idiotic confrontation with Anton Tinnerman over a restart, and kneed the defender in the groin. He should have seen a red card and was lucky Mazic’s eyesight was at least consistently poor rather than simply selectively.

But things went from bad to worse in the second half, with Malmo leaping all over Celtic from the whistle. Gordon was called on to make a fabulous double save off Rosenberg, but on the ensuing corner, Carvalho leapt to head on a cross from Vladimir Rodic, and Boyata was stuck on the line, helpless as the ball caromed off him at the post.

Celtic were really unable to get anything going after that goal, looking sluggish in midfield and failing to move the ball about with any sort of speed. Malmo operated with a swagger, and as the clock wound down, you could see the color drain out of the Scottish champions.

Celtic will now drop into the Europa League pool, while Malmo await their opponents in the group stages of the Champions League. That draw is on Thursday morning (FS1, 11:45 ET).

Shakhtar 2-2 Rapid Vienna (Shakhtar advance)

Ukraine’s Shakhtar Donetsk overcame a rocky start to qualify for the Champions League group stage Tuesday, drawing 2-2 with Austrian side Rapid Vienna for a 3-2 aggregate win.

Playing in the city of Lviv due to conflict in Ukraine, Shakhtar struggled to assert any dominance against a team which had not qualified for the group stage for a decade.

Marlos’ 10th-minute opener for Shakhtar was almost immediately canceled out by Louis Schaub for Rapid, which then took the lead through Steffen Hofmann’s free-kick.

That goal briefly put Rapid in line to progress on away goals, but Shakhtar responded in the 27th minute when Oleksandr Hladkiy finished off a direct passing move.

Rapid was reduced to 10 men on 88 minutes, then missed two good chances to score.

Maccabi Tel-Aviv 1-1 Basel (Maccabi advance)

Maccabi Tel Aviv’s Eran Zahavi scored his third goal of the tie to earn a 1-1 draw at Basel and send his team through 3-3 on away goals.

Dinamo Zagreb 4-1 Skenderbeu

Dinamo Zagreb was the only side to avoid an edgy evening, beating Albania’s Skenderbeu 4-1 to ease to a 6-2 aggregate win.


The Associated Press contributed to this report.