CELTIC were left seeing red once more as they were taken apart by a rampant Atletico Madrid in the heaving Estadio Metropolitano.

In Glasgow, it was the colour of the shirts worn by Atletico to commemorate their infamously bruising 1974 triumph over Celtic that riled the Scottish champions, but in the Spanish capital, it was the colour of card waved in the direction of Daizen Maeda that made a difficult task an impossible one.

Already a goal down to a deflected strike from the brilliant Antoine Griezmann, they would go on to concede further goals from Alvaro Morato, another from Griezmann, a pearler from Samuel Dias Lino, another corker from Morato and a final blow from Saul.

In the end, they were fortunate to get out of town with just the six goal defeat, with Atletico also hitting the woodwork twice.

Here are the talking points from a chastening night for Brendan Rodgers and his men in Madrid…


The narrative around Celtic’s Champions League matches over the past two seasons is well worn. They are learning their lessons at the top level. They are getting closer to getting a result. And much of that may be true.

The problem is, when you are coming up against players that are just that level above you, it is always going to be difficult to bridge the gap. Mistakes creep in, and they are inevitably punished. Rinse and repeat. And so it was here yet again.

It was always going to be an uphill task coming to this stunning cathedral ‘built for football’, in Celtic manager Rodgers’ own words. Atletico had won their last 14 matches here coming into this game. But, still…

Celtic actually started the match reasonably well, holding onto the ball and quietening down the cacophony that greeted their arrival. But just a few minutes in, they shot themselves in the foot once more, with two sloppy errors presenting the hosts a gift they barely needed.

Joe Hart came out to meet a corner under no pressure, but decided to attempt a one-handed punch that he miscued wide to Ricardo Riquelme, who flung the ball back into the box.

Callum McGregor was there to meet it, but his poor header landed at the feet of Greizmann on the edge of the area, and suddenly Celtic were in desperation mode.

Both McGregor and Cameron Carter-Vickers flung themselves in front of his shot, but the touch the centre-back got on the ball only helped it past Hart’s despairing dive and into the corner.

If they thought that was going to make it a long night, they didn’t yet know the half of it…


It is hard to be too critical of the attacker, given that it is his all-action, high-pressing style that makes him such an asset. Indeed, prior to the match, those who cover Atletico had spoken of how surprised and impressed the Spanish side had been by Maeda’s display in Glasgow.

It is perhaps little wonder then that when he challenged for a loose ball with Mario Hermoso, arriving a fraction of a second after the defender and catching him on the shin, that the Atletico bench sprung up in unison in animated appeals towards referee Ivan Kruzliak to order him off.

The Slovak official would provoke further remonstrations from the home dugout when he produced only a yellow card, but a few moments later his finger went to his ear, and as soon as he wandered over in the direction of the VAR screen there was only ever likely to be one outcome.

Rodgers tried to argue his player’s case, furiously charging from his own technical area to try and prevent his Atletico counterparts from exerting undue influence on the whistler, but it was to no avail.

And in fairness, the call was probably right by today’s standards, even if there was little intent from Maeda. But that careless leg, and that little bit of naivety, cost Celtic dear on the road once more.

It was their third red card in their two away Champions League matches so far. They have to improve upon their discipline if they are to give themselves even a fighting chance.

Speaking of which…


Rodgers said prior to this match that at Champions League level, 95 percent is not enough. But he will now travel to face Lazio in Rome with a team that is far from full strength, with Luis Palma joining Maeda on the suspended list.

While Maeda’s red came in an honest attempt to win the ball, Palma’s booking was altogether more avoidable, picking up the caution for mouthing at the referee following a Liam Scales foul on Axel Witsel.

You could see the frustration bubbling up in the Honduran as a few debatable calls went against him, but even still, it was daft to voice his displeasure for at least the third time towards the official. He had clearly had enough, and Palma paid the price.


Rodgers had said that his team’s structure was going to be key if they were to get a result, but individual errors undermined his organisation, and then he was forced to go to a 4-3-2 following Maeda’s dismissal.

In fairness to the Celtic players that remained, they worked their socks off and tried to compete as best they could. And in fairness to Hart after his earlier error, he made a few really decent stops as the game wore on.

Given they played the vast majority of the evening a man light though, we have no way of knowing if Rodgers’ game plan might have garnered a better result - or at least kept the score down - had the match played out with Celtic having their full complement.


It will be cold comfort to Celtic fans to consider the calibre of player who put them to the sword, but due credit has to be given to the opposition on occasion, and there is no doubt that in the imperious Greizmann, Atletico have quality that sides of Celtic’s financial standing can only dream about.

His second goal of the night was a lesson in predatory instinct and lethal finishing. Though, again it was a poor defensive header from Celtic – this time from Alistair Johnston – that ensured the ball landed perfectly for him to scissor kick home.

Griezmann has been a joy to watch in these two games, though perhaps not for the Celtic supporters. The Celtic players will however know that they have been in the presence of brilliance, and that is the level they must aspire to.

He was taken off moments after his second, but any thought it was a mercy sub was disproved within minutes as one of the Atletico replacements, Dias Lino, curled an unstoppable shot into the top corner from the right-hand corner of the area.

By the time Morata smashed in an outstanding fifth during an announcement asking the Celtic supporters to remain in their seats after the final whistle, most of them were already halfway back into town.

At least those fans missed the sixth, Saul poking home at the second attempt after some weary defending from the Celts.