Disastrous debut for Celtic boss

Gordon Strachan suffered a disastrous first competitive match as Celtic manager following their 5-0 defeat to Artmedia Bratislava in the European Champions League in Slovakia on Wednesday night.

The score line at the Tehelne Pole stadium makes for an almost impossible task for Celtic at Parkhead on August 2 for the second leg of this second qualifying round.

Juraj Halenar put the Slovakian side ahead and he went on to complete his hat-trick in the second half. Blazej Vascak and Martin Mikulic also netted to leave the demoralised Hoops needing to stage a miraculous comeback next week.

To cap a miserable night for Strachan, Chris Sutton was stretchered off early in the tie with a suspected fractured cheekbone after a freak collision with skipper Neil Lennon.

“I’m still in shock. I didn’t see that happening after half-an-hour.
None of those players will ever forget that performance,” Strachan told the BBC after the match.

“It’s asking for a lot [to qualify]. At 2-0 I thought we were alright, but we had a couple of chances we didn’t take. Then we gambled with three up front and it didn’t work for us.”

Strachan admitted the excuse that it was Celtic’s first competitive game of the season would not wash.

“Their good players were sharper than ours, but I can’t say anything to make the fans feel better right now,” he continued.

“We’ve just got to suffer together. Whether we need a complete overhaul, we’ll see over the next couple of weeks, but we have to analyse that game to see where we went wrong.

“Embarrassment is the strongest emotion right now and it’s difficult to look anyone in the eye.”

Celtic goalkeeper David Marshall was helpless to stop Artmedia taking the lead two minutes before half-time.

Jan Kozak’s pass dissected the Celtic defence and as Branislav Obzera raced through, he took Marshall and the chasing defenders out of the game by passing the ball to Halenar, who had an empty goal to shoot into.

Celtic went two goals down to a great piece of skill. Kozak knocked an accurate pass to Halenar, whose cross was shot home by Vascak.

Artmedia then stamped their authority on the game after adding two more goals within the space of three minutes.

First, Halenar scored a terrific volley from a corner, when Marshall appeared to have kept the ball in, then sub Mikulic swivelled on the edge of the box to fire past Marshall.

Shaun Maloney curled a late free kick just wide right at the end, but, without an away goal, Celtic’s task next week is a tough one.—Sapa-AFP

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