TALE as old as added time. Celtic conspired to somehow lose to Lazio at the death despite a stirring showing, with the tables turning on the Scottish champions after their own late show at the weekend. 

This time, it was a last-gasp, added-time winner that sickened them, Pedro Rodriguez's header delivering a sucker punch to the gut of Celtic Park that seemed to wind 60,000 supporters in one bitter blow.

It was quite the pill to swallow. Celtic had been ahead through Kyogo Furuhashi, and been pegged back. They thought they were ahead again, before VAR denied them. And while they dominated the second half in particular, they were again left to rue the moments of slackness that have cost them time and again at this level over the past decade.

But there were positives. Many of them. And none more so than their talismanic striker finally breaking his Champions League duck.

There was the one in the first minute against Shakhtar Donetsk in Warsaw that was hit straight at the keeper. That header over the bar from the centre of the box with the score tied at 0-0 against RB Leipzig at Celtic Park. And a few others besides.

Chances you would expect Kyogo to routinely convert when on domestic duty. Opportunities he would rarely miss. Six starts and one substitute appearance at the highest level of European football. Zero goals.

Was it a confidence thing? Did the Celtic striker really believe he belonged in such company? After breaking his duck against Lazio, you better believe he does.

And what a way to do it. As the Celtic fans have become accustomed to, the striker was the one applying the finishing touch, and on this occasion, it was the cherry on top of a brilliantly constructed move.

In times past, Champions League nights at Celtic Park would be all about bringing the thunder. But here, Brendan Rodgers’ side were living up to the pre-match billing given to them by Lazio head coach Maurizio Sarri, who hailed them as a brilliant technical footballing team.

They were patient, moving the ball well and building through the phases, eventually working the ball to Daizen Maeda wide on the right. The attacker cut inside and found Matt O’Riley, who killed Lazio with a velvet hammer.

His first time pass to split the visiting defence was dainty, deft, and deadly. It sent Kyogo through on goal, and Celtic Park held its breath. Would their main man hold his nerve this time on the big stage? You better believe he would.

He waited, as if to add to the tension. But that brief beat drew Ivan Provedel to blink first, making an anticipatory move to his right to cover the effort across goal. Instead, Kyogo went to the near post, and the ball slipped under the diving keeper and into the net to blow the roof off Celtic Park.

It wasn’t all pretty patterns and patient build-up though. A Liam Scales cruncher on Felipe Anderson got the natives baying for some good old-fashioned blood and thunder. Instead though, Lazio began to inch their way into the encounter, showing that they too could handle the ball and push their opponents back.

There was nothing pretty about their equaliser when it came, mind you. Celtic failed to deal with a corner, and Lazio kept it alive. The ball eventually found its way to Matias Vecino at the back post, and his glancing header had just too much on it for Joe Hart’s right hand to stop it from crossing the line.

As admirable as Celtic’s approach and their adherence to the principles of Brodgeball were, some of their number were finding that the speed of thought required at this level was a little above even the usual harem scarem of the Scottish game.

Yang was the worst offender for ceding possession, but Reo Hatate too was guilty, as were Maeda and a few others.

But there was no deterring Celtic, who reset at the break and slowly began to assert their game on Lazio as the second half wore on. The return of Cameron Carter-Vickers gave the team and the fans a boost, and they thought they had the goal their pressure deserved as the game ticked into the final stages.

A cross from Alastair Johnston somehow worked its way to substitute Luis Palma on the Celtic left, and he showed composure to to cut inside onto his right foot and slam the ball home at Provedel’s near post.

The Celtic supporters went ballistic. The players celebrated with wild abandon. And then VAR, that cruel thief of such joyous moments, intervened. Maeda had apparently applied the faintest of touches to help the ball onto Palma to render him offside, and that precious lead was snatched away.

At least though Celtic and their supporters did have that moment from Kyogo to cling onto. The striker has lift-off in the Champions League. And it had seemed that Celtic, even with just a point to show for their efforts, would too.

Alass, more heartbreak was to follow.