Atletico Madrid 6-0 Celtic: Antoine Griezmann and Alvaro Morata both score twice as hosts run riot after Daizen Maeda’s red card for reckless lunge
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- Daizen Maeda was sent off after a booking was reassessed via the monitor
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On nights such as these, the benefit of Celtic even pulling on the gloves and entering the Champions League ring is hard to fathom.
Pummelled mercilessly by one of the game’s true heavyweights from the first bell, the end of this mismatch did not come a second too soon.
After three credible performances in the competition, this was an occasion when talk of progress felt fanciful in the extreme.
Having made a game of it in Glasgow two weeks ago and deservedly earned a draw, they were out-classed here by an Atletico Madrid side hell bent on revenge.
Yet, not for the first time, they did themselves absolutely no favours. At this level, Celtic seem to be attracted to calamity like iron filings to a magnet.
Antoine Griezmann and Alvaro Morata both scored twice as Atletico Madrid thrashed Celtic
Any hope of getting a foothold in this contest lasted just six minutes. That was all that was required for Joe Hart to punch a cross he should have held and for Callum McGregor to head the ball straight to Antoine Griezmann. Inevitably, the Frenchman showed no mercy.
Any realistic hope of an unlikely comeback lasted all of 23 minutes when Daizen Maeda’s yellow card for catching Mario Hermoso was upgraded to a red after the intervention of VAR.
Brendan Rodgers was furious at the conduct of his counterpart Diego Simeone as the Argentinian waved his arms and appealed for the punishment to be upgraded. But although Maeda’s tackle was hardly x-certificate stuff, it was the kind that the modern game frowns upon.
Things went from bad to worse before the break. Having delivered a point for his side at Celtic Park, Alvaro Morata confirmed another three by converting from close range in injury time.
The forward would add another to his collection late on and by that stage it was getting ugly.
Griezmann’s second, stemming from another error, came six minutes before Dias Lino entered the fray to net a beauty.
A sixth Atletico goal arrived six minutes from time when fellow substitute Saul stabbed home at the second attempt.
For all Celtic will feel aggrieved at Maeda’s dismissal, it would by folly foe them to believe that was the reason why they were denied a first victory in 22 attempts on Spanish soil.
They were the architects of their own downfall, any slim chance of pulling off a seismic shock undone by a litany of individual errors.
Daizen Maeda was sent off after a booking was reassessed via the monitor by the referee
What a stage this was for them to show that they had what it took. Just short of its 70,000 capacity, the Metropolitano Stadium made for a jaw-dropping backdrop, a work of architectural magnificence sitting imposingly on the edge of town.
Just to crank the atmosphere up another notch, Atletico paraded the surviving members of the infamous 1974 semi-final with Celtic before the game.
Rodgers resisted the temptation to begin with the back five that ended the corresponding game in Glasgow. He kept faith in the 11 that had been on the field when Reo Hatate was withdrawn early, meaning a first start at this level for Paulo Bernardo.
Having rocked the Spaniards with a fast start in Glasgow, Simeone had warned that his side wouldn’t be stung in the same way again. He was true to his word.
Within six minutes, the visitors were behind in familiar fashion. Unchallenged as he moved to claim Griezmann’s corner, Hart opted to punch the ball rather than make a routine catch.
Rather than having the chance to build an attack, for no good reason, Rodgers’ side were still defending one.
Having earned an unwarranted throw in, Atletico went in for the kill. McGregor’s attempt to knock a cross clear was weak. Griezmann took one touch and pulled the trigger.
A slight deflection off Cameron Carter-Vickers didn’t help Hart’s attempt to prevent the ball flashing into the far corner. It already felt like a long night.
McGregor redeemed himself by darting back to deny Rodrigo Riquelme a certain second with Carter-Vickers also stopping to block Morata’s strike.
Luis Palma worked Jan Oblak with a dipping strike before Maeda’s hopes of VAR intervening when he tumbled under Hermoso’s challenge came to nothing.
It would be a different story the next time pair came together, though. Racing to contest a winnable ball, the Japanese caught the defender on the shin.
With the Japanese initially given a yellow card by Slovakian referee Ivan Kruzliak, Simeone wanted more for his stricken defender.
The instant Dutch VAR Dennis Johan Higler granted his wish of a pitch side review, Maeda knew the red card was coming. Angered at Simeone’s antics, Rodgers also got a yellow for his trouble.
With three errors made inside the first quarter of the game, Celtic were not even giving themselves a fighting chance.
They reshaped with a 4-3-2 but it was now one-way traffic – save a horrible slice my Morata from a corner that required a reflect save by Oblak.
Only Griezmann’s failure to hit the target from a promising position kept Celtic in it. A fine low stop by Hart to deny the Frenchman threatened to keep the half-time deficit at just one but it was not to be.
Spotting Jose Gimenez advancing to the far post, Griezmann’s cross was measured to perfection. Morata couldn’t miss from the knock-down.
The second half was only a question of how much further pain Atletico felt like inflicting.
Hart acted smartly to keep out Angel Correa’s strike with Gimenez then hitting the bar.
The introductions of Oh Hyeon-gyu and Odin Thiago Holm were designed to give the visitors an out-ball but one Atletico attack was simply followed by another.
With Celtic visibly tiring, another mistake was in the post. This time Alistair Johnston made a hash of clearing a cross with the ball sitting up nicely for Griezmann. A brilliant mid-air left foot volley gave Hart no chance.
The withdrawal of Griezmann felt like an act of mercy. Some hope.
Within a minute of taking the field, Lino turned a bad night for Celtic into a desperate one. His curling strike looked to have the beating of Hart the minute it left his right foot.
Morata’s second of the night came with 14 minutes remaining. Delightful close control on the edge of the box preceded a sumptuous left foot strike.
Saul piled in further agony with six minutes to go when his hammered high into Hart’s net after initially fluffing his lines.
The only crumb of consolation on a humiliating night for Celtic was that it wasn’t more.
Atletico Madrid: Oblak, Molina (Azpilicueta 71), Witsel, Gimenez (Soyuncu 77), Hermoso, Riquelme (Samuel Dias 65), Barrios (Llorente 46), Koke, Griezmann (Saul 65), Correa, Morata.
Subs Not Used: Grbic, Savic, Galan, Gomis.
Goals: Griezmann 6, Morata 45, Griezmann 60, Samuel Dias 66, Morata 76, Saul 84.
Celtic: Hart, Alistair Johnston, Carter-Vickers, Scales, Taylor, O’Riley (Holm 46), McGregor (Iwata 71), Bernardo (Turnbull 61), Maeda, Furuhashi (Yang 61), Palma (Oh 46).
Subs Not Used: Lagerbielke, Phillips, Bain, Forrest, Ralston, Welsh, Michael Johnston.
Sent Off: Maeda (23).
Booked: Maeda, Palma.
Ref: Ivan Kruzliak (Slovakia).
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