Valencia v Celtic: Europa League last 32, second leg – as it happened

  • Toljan sent off in first half
  • Gameiro scores minutes after coming off bench

Brendan Rodgers' debrief

The manager is chuffed with his team’s performance and reckons they were thwarted by bad refereeing: “It’s up there with the proudest moments I’ve had as a manager. Everyone wrote us off in the tie, everyone thought it was a formality. The referee has taken the game away from us. We were so superior for the first period of the game. Our shape was excellent. I thought it was a foul on Jeremy [for the red card] ... and from there it was difficult but we kept going. The pride in that. I felt so privileged to be the coach.”

“Eventually it was a poor goal from our perspective and that’s something one or two of our players have to learn. We’ve got to defend better.”

And more on the incident that led to Toljan’s second booking. “No chance [h deserved it]. The guy makes the run from behind and just bumps Jeremy over and then he makes contact with the striker. I said it to the referee afterwards ... and he said it was a definite sending off!”

Brendan Rogers, the Celtic manager, applauds the fans.
Brendan Rogers, the Celtic manager, applauds the fans. Photograph: Richard Heathcote/Getty Images


Ajer and Hayers give their hot takes

Ajer: “The manger put out a really clear plan and we did very well util the sending off ... It’s a tough game and it becomes even tougher with that sending off.”

Hayes: “We knew what it meant to a lot of people who travelled out here. We put our bodies on the line and everyone tried their best. We were comfortable in the first half ... but the sending off changed the game for us. When your a man down it’s more difficult to apply our plan and put pressure on the man on the ball.”

Full-time: Valencia 1-0 Celtic (Agg: 3-0)

Celtic’s European campaign ends in frustrating fashion. There were a lot of positives in their performances but they were undone by an avoidable red card for Toljan, a bad miss by Ajer and, in fairness, opponents who passed very niftily at times.

Celtic players applaud their fans after the final whistle.
Celtic players applaud their fans after the final whistle. Photograph: Richard Heathcote/Getty Images


90+2 min: Gameiro mis-hits from eight yards. Then Bain bats the ball away as Parejo tries to head the rebound into the net.

90 min: Ajer does enough to complicate Gameiro’s task as a cross is fizzed in from the right. The striker gets to it first but can’t finish comfortably enough, shooting straight at Bain.

89 min: A glimmer of a chance for Christie after sloppiness by Valencia, but a hefty touch snuffs it out.

88 min: Valencia zip the ball around the Celtic box. Lovely interplay. Then Mina tries to bend a shot into the far corner from 15 yards, but doesn’t bend it enough.

86 min: Johnston shows some nice skills down the left but two defenders converge on him to stop him from producing a cross.

Celtic’s Michael Johnston surges forward.
Celtic’s Michael Johnston surges forward. Photograph: José Jordan/AFP/Getty Images


84 min: Christie leans into Lato, who goes down in the box. That looks like a penalty but not to the referee.

82 min: Edouard wins a freekick wide on the left. Prime crossing territory. But Christie bogs it way beyond the far post. Shame, especially as he’s generally played well today.

79 min: Leeds ins in a neat pass from the left. Guedes dummies it brilliantly and then spins into space to receive a return pass from Mina, who duly delivers. Guedes could shoot from a difficult angle but decides to play it back across goal, where he presumably expected Mina to have reached. But no, Mina was expecting Guedes to shoot, so the ball rolls to safety.

78 min: Good work by Edouard, who holds the ball up well and then brings in Hayes, who sends over a nice cross from the left. It’s headed away but falls to Brown, who opens fire from 25 yards. Blocked.

77 min: It looks like being another one of those “if only” nights for Celtic. If only Toljan has not been sent off, and if only Ajer had not headed over the bar from five yards, they might have pulled off an improbable comeback here. But improbable has become nigh-on impossible now.

Valencia substitution: Lee on, Wass off

74 min: Boyata diverts a shot by Mina out for a corner.

Celtic substitution: Burke off, Johnston off.

72 min: Ajer romps forward from the back, all the way to the edge of the hoem area. Then he rolls the ball to Edouard, who unloads a shot from the left-hand corner of the box. It’s blocked by a defender.

GOAL! Valencia 1-0 Celtic (Gameiro 70) (agg: 3-0)

It’s a beautifully worked goal. Perjeo floated a diagonal pass to Wass, who came in behind Hayes at the far post and headed the ball cleverly back across goal, where Gameiro was on hand to turn it into the net from six yards. Simunovic was caught dozing by the striker’s darting run.

Valencia’s Kevin Gameiro stabs the ball home from close range to give the home side the lead on the night and extend their aggregate lead.
Valencia’s Kevin Gameiro stabs the ball home from close range to give the home side the lead on the night and extend their aggregate lead. Photograph: Juan Medina/Reuters
Joy for Kevin Gameiro and his Valencia teammates amongst the glum Celtic players.
Joy for Kevin Gameiro and his Valencia teammates amongst the glum Celtic players. Photograph: Juan Medina/Reuters


69 min: A wonderful tackle by Boyata prevents Gameiro from firing off a shot from close range after a sharp move by Valencia!

Valencia substitution: Gameiro on, Sobrino off

65 min: Celtic have shown something in the last few minutes. There’s genuine defiance there and they’ve won possession back several times with strong tackles before venturing forward with a int of menace. Valencia don’t look quite so comfortable any more.

Kristoffer Ajer of Celtic tackles Goncalo Guedes of Valencia.
Kristoffer Ajer of Celtic tackles Goncalo Guedes of Valencia. Photograph: Richard Heathcote/Getty Images


Celtic substitution: Edouard on, Forrest off.

62 min: ... Christie curls in a beautiful delivery from the left. Ajer gets the run on his marker and has a free header from five yards! But he nods over! What an agonising miss for Celtic!

Celtic’s Kristoffer Ajer heads over.
Celtic’s Kristoffer Ajer heads over. Photograph: José Jordan/AFP/Getty Images
Celtic’s Kristoffer Ajer reacts after missing a chance to score.
Ajer reacts after his miss. Photograph: Juan Medina/Reuters


61 min: Forrest wins a freekick wide on the right. A good promising opportunity. The big lads come up from the back...

58 min: Hayes booked for nudging Mina to the ground from behind as he chased back. He had run forward to provide a passing option to Burke, who should have fed him quickly from the centre circle but instead dawdled on the ball.

57 min: Parejo pulls back Brown on half-way to abort a counter-attack. For reasons unknown and unacceptable, he escapes a yellow card.

56 min: Parejo floats a freekick from the left to the edge of the area, from where Wass unloads a fierce volley. Well held by Bain.

55 min: Diakhaby booked for raising his leg too high to pinch the ball before Forrest.

53 min: Celtic opened up again, Wass charging on to a canny pass by Sobrino and then aiming a low ball across the face of goal. Celtic turn it behind for a corner. They’re clinging on ... to a two-goal aggregate deficit. Might as well throw on Sinclair and Edouard and go gung-ho, if you ask me.

51 min: Fine defending by Simunovic, who clears a Mina cross from right in front of his own goal after a careful and incisive buildup by Valencia.

50 min: Torres and Wass one-two their way down the right before Brown intervenes at the expense of a corner. Hayes heads the setpiece clear.

48 min: The second half has taken place entirely inside Celtic territory so far. Valencia are trying to pick their way through, and Soler very nearly succeeded, only to be foiled at the last by Boyata.

46 min: Valencia start the second half and immediately look to resume where they left off at the end of the second. Celtic get all 10 remaining players behind the ball and try to hang in there and look for chances to release the speedy Burke on the counter.

Half-time: Valencia 0-0 Celtic (agg: 2-0)

A chance to regroup for Celtic. But, of course, they need to do more than that to get back into this tie with only 10 men. They were faring well until Toljan’s dismissal, but since their wingback’s second booking, they’ve been teetering on the brink of a spanking. Two good saves from Bain enabled them to reach half-time still in the tie. But it’s going to take something special for them to overturn the 2-0 aggregation scoreline in 45 minutes with 10 men.

45 min: Another quick-reflex, one-handed save by Bain, this time to beat away a 12-yard shot by Mina after Celtic were torn apart again.

45 min: Guedes slips a nice pass through to Torres, dashing in from the right. He turns past Simunovic and aims a low curler towards the far corner. But it doesn’t bend enough, missing the target by a yard.

44 min: Celtic have a job on just to make it to half-time. Valencia are turning the screw ...

43 min: Bain adjusts his feet quickly to tip the ball over the bar after Parejo’s 18-yard shot from a knockdown takes a deflection. It was headed in. Boyata clears the corner.

Celtic’s Scott Bain makes a save from Valencia’s Dani Parejo.
Celtic’s Scott Bain makes a save from Valencia’s Dani Parejo. Photograph: Juan Medina/Reuters


42 min: Valencia are trying to finish the tie off here and now. They’re putting the 10 men under heavy pressure. Celtic clear a series of crosses before Soler lets fly from 20 yards. Wide.

40 min: A promising run by McGregor ends when Parejo slides in to ease the ball off him.

38 min: Brown lumbers over to the right-back area to curtail a run by Guedes.

Red card for Toljan

Well that’s torn it for Celtic. Toljan gets his second yellow for bringing down Guedes, who was abut to latch on to a through-ball. It’s not clear that Toljan did it deliberately - he may have simply fallen into the player, who lashed in on his blindside - but no one’s complaining.

Jeremy Toljan of Celtic (second right) is sent off after his second yellow card.
Jeremy Toljan of Celtic (second right) is sent off after his second yellow card. Photograph: Richard Heathcote/Getty Images


34 min: Simunovic plays his way out from the back with elegant style. Celtic move threateningly upfield. Forrest digs out a cross from the right-hand corner of the box. It bounces in front of Hayes, who takes a chest to control it with his chest and then, under pressure, slashes a shot into the sidenetting from 10 yards.

32 min: Burke robs the ball off Coquelin and sprints towards the box! But a gauche touch prevents him from getting off a shot and he has to turn around and tee up Forrester, whose blast from 16 yards is blocked.

30 min: A decent bout of probing by Celtic, passing with purpose in front of their hosts, who are very disciplined. Eventually Forrest whips over a fine cross from the right and Hayes, darting in from the let flank, jumps in to the back of Wass, conceding a freekick.

27 min: Fast attack down the let by Valencia. Lato pulls the ball back dangerously from the byline. Boyata clears.

26 min: Toljan gets the game’s second booking, for tugging back an opponent after Celtic gifted possession away with an errant pass.

25 min: Coquelin, who has just come on, clutches his ankle after making a pass. Has he picked up an injury, too? The best way to find out is to run at him like billy-o.

23 min: You’ll never guess who’s just picked up the first booking of the match? It was for chopping down Guedes near half-way. Aye, it was Scott Brown.

Valencia’s Goncalo Guedes in action with Celtic’s Scott Brown
Valencia’s Goncalo Guedes in action with Celtic’s Scott Brown Photograph: Juan Medina/Reuters


Valencia substitution: Coquelin on, Garay off. It seems that Garay did himself a mischief while blocking that shot by Burke and he can’t continue. Coquelin comes on and goes to centreback,not his preferred positions. Something for celtic to exploit?

20 min: Guedes charges past Toljan down the left and lobs over a cross. A touch too long for the man coming in at the back post.

18 min: A pass from deep gives Burke a chance to race forward from half-way. Garay strains to keep pace with him ... and then blocks the youngster’s shot when they reach the box.

16 min: Hayes marauds forward down the left again. This time Valencia stop him from getting in a cross but his rampaging positivity is proving quite a pain to the hosts, and the main source of hope for Celtic so far.

14 min: Valencia aren’t going out of their way to attack: rather they’re happy to protect their lead and wait to pounce on any mistakes by Celtic. And the first one duly arrives, as Boyata’s slack pass from the back is intercepted. Luckily for him, Sobirno over-hit a cross from the right after scampering into the box.

12 min: The home fans get a sing-song going in an attempt to drown out the Celtic hordes. Similarly, the home team are trying to get on to the front foot after being penned back deep by Celtic for most of the game so far. But Celtic look compact and composed when out of possession, so far.

9 min: Hayes is having a stormer so far down the left. His latest run results in a corner. Christie’s outswinging delivery is good. Ajer catches it on the volley from 10 yards. It rebounds back to him off a defender and this time he smashes his shot way wide.

7 min: Celtic continue to have most possession and are making Valencia work feverishly to close down any openings.

5 min: More good stuff by Celtic. They force Valencia backwards with some very tidy, purposeful passing. Toljan’s eventual cross from the right comes to nothing but the visitors can take encouragement from a bright start.

3 min: Promising move by Celtic! Brown began it in his own half before Christie released Hayes down the left. Hayes flew into the box and banged in a dangerous low cross/shot. The keeper gets down to hold well.

Jonathan Hayes of Celtic has a shot on goal.
Jonathan Hayes of Celtic has a shot on goal. Photograph: Kieran McManus/BPI/Rex/Shutterstock


2 min: Burke shows that “Searing pace” that Rodgers mentioned, hurtling past Diakhaby down the right. But he overran the ball, pulling it back towards the centre after it had crossed the byline.

1 min: We have kickoff! Celtic get the game going ...

Valencia are wearing all white. Celtic are sporting their fluorescent lime green away kit with black patches: it’s a mess, to be fair.

The teams have arrived on the pitch, where they receive a lusty greeting from the spectators: there are plenty of empty seats but lots of noise, thanks notably to thousands of crooning away fans.

Brendan Rodgers' pre-match thoughts

Regarding his team selection, notably the back three, he explains: “[Valencia] keep two strikers up even when they’re defending and they have pace. So our [back] three give us a chance to control that. It also gives us bodies between the lines ... and still allows you width in the game to open them up ... yet compact when we haven’t got the ball. Hopefully it’ll work for us.”

He explains that Burke has been given the nod up front because of his “searing pace” so “that gives us an out ball, which is important ... and if we need to change it, we’ve got quality on the bench.”


Valencia: Neto; Wass, Garay, Diakhaby, Lato; Torres, Soler, Parejo, Guedes; Sobrino, Mina

Subs: Domenech, Gameiro, Cheryshev, Gaya, Lee, Coquelin, Cenetelles

Celtic: Bain; Toljan, Boyata, Ajer, Simunovic, Hayes; Forrest, Brown, McGregor, Christie; Burke

Subs: Gordon, Izaguirre, Sinclair, Edouard, Lustig, Weah, Johnston

Referee: D Aytekin (Ger)


Hello. You join us with Celtic on the verge of a historic achievement … or routine elimination from the Europa League. Having lost last week’s home leg 2-0, Brendan Rodgers’ team need to win handsomely in Spain, where they’ve won exactly zero of their previous 15 matches. Coincidentally, 15 is also the number of times that Valencia have gone into the second leg of a European tie with a lead – and they have lost that lead exactly zero times. So yes, Celtic have a mighty challenge on their hands.

But Rodgers says that if they can nick the first goal and cut out the elementary mistakes that caused last week’s defeat, then something special could be on the cards. Those are two whopping big “ifs” but this potential triumph wouldn’t be worth getting excited about if Celtic were starting from an easy place. As things stand, this is a must-follow. At least for a while.