Celtic 0-2 Valencia: Europa League last 32, first leg – as it happened

Valencia completely outclassed Celtic and should probably have won by a greater margin than 2-0, goals coming from Denis Cheryshev and Ruben Sobrino

And with that, I will bid you goodnight. Thanks for reading.

Here’s Ewan Murray’s match report: ‘harrowing’ is about right...

Well, the best you can probably say for Celtic is that it could, probably should have been worse. Valencia basically controlled the game from start to finish, and aside from a slight turnaround in intent after the second goal, Celtic barely looked like troubling them.

Full-time: Celtic 0-2 Valencia


90 mins + 3: Valencia seem belatedly keen to add a third goal. Wass puts over a nice cross from the right but it’s just too far ahead of Sobrini, who half looks like he pulls up in stretching.

90 mins + 1: Gameiro’s effort from the right side of the area is deflected behind by Brown, who has at least knocked the ‘give the ball away in really dangerous situations’ wheeze on the head in the second-half.

90 mins: Hmmm: weird one. Celtic should probably have a penalty after Weah, circling under a high cross at the back post, is barged in the back from Lato. No dice though, despite the extra official being roughly three yards away. Three minutes of added time.

89 mins: Toljan gets a yellow card for wrapping his arms around Guedes, and putting him on the floor.

88 mins: For maybe the fourth or fifth time in the second-half, Forrest has darted down the right and skimmed over a cross, only for it to be easily cleared because a) the cross was bad and b) there have only been one or two Celtic attackers in the area.

87 mins: Burke is penalised for...as far as I can tell blocking the ball with his stomach. Even if the referee thought there were hands involved, the ball was struck at him from roughly nine inches away.

85 mins: Celtic try to thread their way through the Valencia defence, but it ain’t happening lads.

82 mins: The first booking of the evening goes to Burke, for a high boot in the mush of an admittedly stooping Garay. Which of course is what Brummies call Mr Lineker. And then just like that, Kondogbia receives the second yellow card about 50 seconds later, for taking far too long about the free-kick. He’ll now be suspended for the second leg.

Valencia’s Ezequiel Garay goes down after being fouled by Oliver Burke.
Valencia’s Ezequiel Garay goes down after being fouled by Oliver Burke. Photograph: Russell Cheyne/Reuters


81 mins: Forrest takes the ball to the byline on the right and clips over a cross, but Wass just gets there before any of Celtic’s attackers and glances the header away.

80 mins: Valencia have a corner from the left. Gameiro finds an indecent amount of space at the near post but sends his header well over.

78 mins: Right-back Piccini seems to twang his groin, so in what can only be described as an act of tactical disdain, Marcelino brings forward Kevin Gameiro on his his stead. There’s a reshuffle, which includes Wass moving from left wing to right-back.

77 mins: Brown plays a nice pass out to Eduoard on the left, but he cuts infield, then cuts further infield, and tries an implausible shot when there were better options available.

74 mins: Brown is possibly a little lucky to get away with a couple of fouls on Kondogbia: as they’re waiting for a corner there’s some pushing, ending with Brown flicking a hand into the Frenchman’s face. They’re given a talking to, but no more, and when the corner is eventually delivered Brown does that thing where you lean into your opponent when they jump for the ball, meaning Kondogbia is sent crashing to the turf.

73 mins: Piccini wanders into the box from the left, skipping around Izaguirre like he’s a training cone, and it’s only a half-hearted cross which prevents the situation getting worse for Celtic.

71 mins: Edouard gets down the left and fires in a low cross which causes a brief bout of panic in the Valencia defence, but not for that long: Lato hooks it clear.

69 mins: Piccini tries to set Soler away down the right, but the flag goes up. Valencia seem happy enough with 2-0, but really they had Celtic in a corner and could really kill the tie off if they wanted.

67 mins: Kondogbia tries to shoulder-charge Edouard, bounces off the Celtic man and for some reason is awarded a free-kick.

65 mins: I’ve been trying to work out Celtic’s formation since those substitutions. The best I can do is a midfield diamond with Weah tucking behind Edouard and Burke, and Forrest as the right-sided midfielder but really playing as a winger. It’s...bold, but then again they have to be. And it has resulted in a more purposeful performance.

63 mins: Sub for Valencia: Cheryshev is off, and Goncalo Guedes is on.

62 mins: Celtic continue to pass out from the back, badly. Again, they’re lucky to get away with it as Izaguirre tackle-passes the ball from danger, but they have to either realise that they’re not good enough to do this against Valencia, or to more carefully pick their opportunities.

61 mins: More positive intent: Forrest gets down the right, he curls over a cross which is half-headed away, only as far as Weah on the edge of the box. He tries a shot, but sends it way over. Still, mild progress.

60 mins: Edouard shows a little positive intent, picking the ball up on the left and running towards the box. He runs into Garay right on the edge: one of those where you’re not quite sure how the defender could get out of the way, but probably also a foul. However, the referee decides it is not.

58 mins: Here are those subs: Weah replaces Scott Sinclair, while Edouard takes the place of Ryan Christie.

57 mins: Subs ahoy for Celtic: at least two of them, with Tim Weah and Odsonne Edouard receiving instructions from Brendan Rodgers. Too late? Maybe, but at least they’re trying something.

56 mins: Celtic have a shot. After a fashion. McGregor takes aim from about 25 yards out but puts it into the stands, where an enterprising young lad quickly squirrels the ball underneath his seat. Good lad.

55 mins: Sobrino begins a chase down the right touchline for the ball and possibly a run on goal, but he’s tugged back by McGregor, who is probably lucky not to be booked.

53 mins: Going to be a long half an hour or so for Celtic, this. Chasing shadows will barely cover it.

51 mins: Close to goal three, as Piccini makes his way into the box from the right and shoots, but Bain saves at the near post.

48 mins: Simple really. Wass shoves the ball down the line to Cheryshev, he makes tracks then hits an absolutely perfect cross into the middle where Sobrino meets the ball on the full, and smacks it straight through Bain. Men against boys.

GOAL! Celtic 0-2 Valencia (Sobrino 48)

Game over. Probably tie over.

Ruben Sobrino puts Valencia two up.
Ruben Sobrino puts Valencia two up. Photograph: Ian MacNicol/Getty Images


46 mins: It takes Celtic roughly 20 seconds to give the ball away in their own half. Again, they’re lucky nothing much is made of it.

The teams are heading back out for the second-half, and one of them is going to be slightly different: Valencia are bringing on Francis Coquelin - remember that guy? - for Parejo. Since the Spaniards’ playmaker was the best player on the pitch in the first half, that either means he’s injured or they reckon the game is basically won so they don’t need him for the second 45.

That’s the first goal Celtic have conceded this year, and the first goal Bain has let in since displacing Craig Gordon in the team after the last Old Firm game. But, to repeat, Celtic will probably be happy it’s only 1-0.

At various points this has carried a strong ‘men against boys’ vibe. Valencia are at least two or three classes above Celtic, even with a few key men absent. To repeat: their only real concern might be that they’re not further ahead.

Half-time: Celtic 0-1 Valencia


45 mins: Rodgers looks concerned on the touchline, and he’s right to. Bain plays a suicidal pass out to Toljan who has little choice but to blindly hoof the ball out of play. One minute of added time.

44 mins: The only real surprise is that Valencia aren’t further ahead at this stage.

42 mins: Celtic give the ball away again, but this time a more prosaic incident deep in the Valencia half. Parejo brings it forward and plays a delicious pass through to Sobrino who is free behind the Celtic defence, and has the time to wait for Cheryshev, to whom he squares the ball for the tap-in. Celtic claim offside, but nothing doing there.

GOAL! Celtic 0-1 Valencia (Cheryshev 42)

That had been coming.

Denis Cheryshev slots the ball into the empty net.
Denis Cheryshev slots the ball into the empty net. Photograph: Andy Buchanan/AFP/Getty Images


40 mins: More sloppy passing, as this time Simunovic has the choice between passing to McGregor or Boyata, but just puts the ball between the two. Again, they get away with it. As lax as this is from Celtic, Valencia might be pretty concerned that they haven’t yet taken advantage of it.

38 mins: Forrest cuts in from the right and runs through a couple of challenges, but his attack is halted by a brilliant sliding challenge from Parejo. The crowd wail for a foul, but that was perfectly-timed.

37 mins: A rare attack from Celtic: McGregor feeds Sinclair, who brings the ball forwards on the break, threads the needle with a delicately placed pass which sets Burke free behind the defence, but the pass was just, just, just too strong and Neto emerges from his box to beat Burke to the ball.

35 mins: Brown puts in the thunking (fair) challenge to win the ball, but in keeping with the rest of his performance promptly gives the ball away. He’s lucky that Wass’s cross was poor and easily cleared.

33 mins: Valencia simply not allowing Celtic to pass out from the back. Bain has to be sharp about getting rid of the ball under pressure, and then can only hoof the ball out of play.

30 mins: Valencia continue to be more threatening going forwards: Wass spreads the ball left to Wass, who is flagged offside, but that was marginal at best.

27 mins: One thing that’s been pretty obvious so far is that these Celtic players aren’t used to being pressed so quickly: Brown’s issues we’ve mentioned, but Izaguirre then cedes possession after being closed down. Meanwhile Forrest is the latest to give away a free-kick, going in late on Lato. Still no bookings. Marcelino might burst shortly.

26 mins: Wass hits a half-volley from way out that dribbles through to Bain. Meanwhile Marcelino’s ire at the ‘physical’ side of the game continues, as Sobrino spends some time on the turf after Simunovic levers him to the floor. Celtic have been lucky to get away with some of these.

Valencia’s Ruben Sobrino is spoken to by referee Ovidiu Hategan after going down.
Valencia’s Ruben Sobrino is spoken to by referee Ovidiu Hategan after going down. Photograph: Russell Cheyne/Reuters


25 mins: Brown has having quite a game so far: he’s already nearly assisted two Valencia goals, and now he shanks what should have been a relatively simple pass out for a throw.

21 mins: Brown apologised to Bain for that ropey pass, but there was really no need: do you really think the young keeper was going to bawl the granite-faced midfielder out?

20 mins: Eeesh, Celtic come this close to donating a goal to Valencia: Brown plays a pass theoretically back to Bain, but he was lucky the keeper had his head on and reacted in time to clear, because Cheryshev was bloody close to intercepting that.

18 mins: Brilliant save! Soler hooks a cross over from the right, Sobrino flicks it on at the near post and Wass, arriving at the back stick, gives his neck muscles the full Les Ferdinand and sends the ball towards the top corner. But Bain flings himself to his left and paws it away: it wasn’t right in the corner, but plenty of people thought it was in, Marcelino among them.

16 mins: Sinclair does nicely to skip past Piccini but, having beaten him once, decides he liked the feeling so much he tried it again. He manages that, but checking back inside took the momentum out of his run and the attack peters out.

14 mins: In quick succession, Scott Sinclair and Burke display why forwards shouldn’t try too hard to help out their defence by taking out Soler and Diakhaby respectively with late challenges. Marcelino is, quite understandably, not especially impressed about the rough housing, particularly as neither Celtic player was booked.

11 mins: Christie finds a bit of space on the left, but after feeding infield to Burke, his touch is heavy and the attack breaks down.

9 mins: Parejo sweeps a pass infield for Kondogbia, but Christie bumbles in and knocks him over like a drunk teenager taking out a lamp while pretending to their parents they’re completely sober.

8 mins: The atmosphere in the stands sound more or less like you’d expect from Parkhead on a European night, but the performance hasn’t quite matched that so far. You sort of expected Celtic to go for it, hell for leather, but they haven’t done that so far.

5 mins: First effort on goal for Celtic: McGregor picks the ball up just to the left of centre outside the box, he runs to just right of centre and hits a low shot, but there’s not much power in it and it’s fairly close to Neto, who dives not too far to his left and saves.

3 mins: Scott Bain plays a terrible pass looking for...Brown, I think. It’s intercepted by Sobrino but luckily for the young goalie the attack is eventually snuffed out.

2 mins: James Forrest drives towards and then into the box and goes down with more than a hint of shove from Lato, but the referee gives it a good look and says no penalty.

1 min: Celtic get us away. Oli Burke knocks the kick-off back to Scott Brown but Celtic promptly give the thing away.

There’s now a minute’s silence for Emiliano Sala. Seems like it’s observed pretty nicely. And now, the game.

Brendan gives Marcelino a big hug. Marcelino looks a little bit uncomfortable about the whole thing. Maybe he’s just not a PDA guy.

The singing of ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’ has commenced. The players are assembling in the tunnel. Scott Brown looks like he’s about to beat up one of the Easter Island statues.

The good news for Celtic is their evening probably can’t go as badly as Arsenal’s did...

Elsewhere, it’s not going well for Arsenal. Follow the last ten minutes of their game against BATE Borisov with Rob Smyth here.

Meanwhile here’s something we can almost certainly all enjoy: Sergio Ramos has been called to the headmaster’s office.

Here’s what Brendan Rodgers had to say ahead of this game.

These two have met twice in this tournament, or iterations thereof, before. Once was in 2001/02, when both legs were won 1-0 by the home side (naturally Henrik Larsson scored one delicious goal) then Valencia prevailed on penalties. The two managers involved that day were Martin O’Neill and Rafa Benitez: what price would you have got for them to be managing Nottingham Forest and Newcastle United 17 years later, eh?

The other game was way back in 1962/63, when they faced each other in the Fairs Cup and Celtic were absolutely hosed, 4-2 in the first leg meaning the 2-2 in the return was of no use whatsoever. Still, because it’s quite a novelty that the footage is here and freely available, here’s highlights of that 2-2 anyway.

No Gabriel. I am bereft.

Team news


Bain, Toljan, Boyata, Simunovic, Izaguirre, Forrest, McGregor, Brown, Sinclair, Christie, Burke. Subs: Gordon, Hayes, Edouard, Lustig, Weah, Ajer, Johnston.


Neto, Piccini, Garay, Diakhaby, Toni Lato, Carlos Soler, Parejo, Kondogbia, Wass, Sobrino, Cheryshev. Subs: Jaume, Goncalo Guedes, Gameiro, Lee, Coquelin, Torres, Centelles.

Referee: Ovidiu Alin Hategan (Romania)


How’s your 2019 going? I’d wager it’s not as good, or as consistent, as Celtic’s. Seven domestic games played, seven games won, zero goals conceded and 21 goals scored. A neat average of 3-0 a game (that they’ve only actually won two of those games 3-0 spoils things a little, but you can’t have everything), which has extended their lead at the top of the Scottish Premiership to six points.

Now though, to Europe. And even though they’re playing Valencia, you might fancy their chances: Brendan Rodgers has been talking them up, as you might expect, pointing out that “their recent results tell you everything about the level they are at.” They may have got a draw with Barcelona the other week, but they’re eighth in La Liga and arguably not pulling up too many trees there. It’s a tempter to think they could do something, mind.

The question for the neutral is this: how much do you want Celtic to go far in the Europa League? This may very much depend on how much of a Brendan apologist you are, because if you find him unbearably self-satisfied now, imagine what he’ll be like if he wins a European trophy. He’ll get an extra coat of shine on his teeth to celebrate.

Anyway, this should be decent game. Not just because agent of chaos Gabriel Paulista might be fit to play. Either way, stick around.

Kick-off: 20.00 GMT