Celtic 1-3 AC Milan: Jens Petter Hauge strike breaks hearts in Glasgow after Mohamed Elyounoussi header set Neil Lennon’s side on the comeback trail
The hosts started brightly after Saturday’s abject Old Firm defeat but were chastened by easy scores for Rade Krunic and Brahim Diaz.
Neil Lennon‘s men rallied after two half-time changes, with substitute Mohamed Elyounoussi’s header giving the Scottish champions hope before Jens Petter Hauge nipped in late on to secure the win for the Rossoneri.
The alarm bells were ringing for Celtic fans after the weekend loss, a game in which they failed to register a shot on target. With that in mind, breaching a Serie A defence looked a tough ask.
While Patryk Klimala was trusted at the weekend, Lennon called upon Albian Ajeti and Leigh Griffiths in attack here, but neither was afforded the service to make an impact during a glum first half.
Too often good positions were not capitalised upon, with Milan showing Celtic how it’s done at the other end.
Samu Castillejo was given time to float in a teasing cross that Shane Duffy got caught under. Young defender Stephen Welsh wasn’t close enough to Krunic, and the Bosnian glanced in the opener after 14 minutes.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s European debut came 19 years ago against Celtic for Ajax, but the Swedish legend had to settle for a role in the build-up to a flowing second.
He started the move as Milan swarmed towards a retreating Celtic defence and the ball was fed to Diaz. Duffy did not get close enough as Callum McGregor attempted to help, but the Spaniard’s cool finish bypassed them both to make it two.
The Italians were cruising and Celtic needed a response. Lennon managed to conjure it with Ryan Christie and Elyounoussi coming off the bench at the break. Their spark, coupled with a switch to four at the back later in the half, changed this game as Milan began to creak.
The impressive Diego Laxalt volleyed just over in a warning shot before Elyounoussi’s short-run and a header from a Christie corner stirred hopes of a comeback. One can only imagine the response if Celtic Park wasn’t lying empty.
With just over 10 minutes to play, Milan quivered and retreated. Celtic probed and pushed, but could not find a leveller their second-half display may just about have deserved.
Instead, Hauge’s injury-time goal on the breakaway was a harsh blow as Celtic’s group campaign commenced with a defeat.