Celtic crash out of Champions League after losing to AEK Athens

Celtic crash out of Champions League after losing to AEK Athens”

Celtic reached the Champions League group stage in the last two seasons but the defeat continues a hard start to the season for Brendan Rodgers' team following a 1-0 defeat to Hearts on Saturday.

PAOK, who fought back from 2-0 down in the first leg against Spartak, will face Benfica for a place in the group stages after the Portuguese champions sealed a 2-1 aggregate victory with a 1-1 draw against Fenerbahce in Istanbul.

Within six minutes his side were trailing to a Rodrigo Galo strike and it looked a forlorn task when Croatian striker Marko Livaja headed in a second five minutes after the break.

The Greek champions go on to face Hungarians MOL Vidi in the playoff round, while 1967 European Cup winners Celtic slip into the same stage of the Europa League after failing in their bid to reach the Champions League proper for a third straight season.

Parkhead substitute Scott Sinclair pulled a goal back in the 78th minute but despite a grand finale the Scottish champions could not fashion a second which would have put them through on away goals.

Rodgers said: "Dedryck Boyata is fit, but he's not here with us". "We gave AEK a lot of problems but you have to defend properly and we didn't do that". He is arguably Celtic's best defender and losing him without adding a proper replacement will be a massive blow for the club.

It was a night to forget for Rodgers and his men, as they lost consecutive competitive matches for the first time since February 2016.

He said: "I think in general, in the game, we played very well but we conceded two soft goals".

"It's disappointing some of the comments of course but we'll deal with it internally".

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