Late Immobile double ends Celtic's Euro ambitions

 

Ciro Immobile of SS Lazio celebrates the victory after the UEFA Champions League match between SS Lazio and Celtic FC at Stadio Olimpico on November 28, 2023 in Rome, Italy. 

Celtic's European hopes ended in frustrating fashion after substitute Ciro Immobile's late double denied them what would have been a creditable draw with Lazio.

Brendan Rodgers' side needed to win to preserve any hope of progression in the Champions League, or even the consolation of a Europa League spot. And while the Scottish Premiership side were resilient in Rome, they struggled to eke out chances.

Lazio endured an exasperating evening themselves but ultimately could rely on the quality of Immobile.

The Italy striker flashed a deflected Gustav Isaksen cross past Joe Hart in the 82nd minute, then capitalised on a Liam Scales misjudgement three minutes later to cut inside Cameron Carter-Vickers and roll in a second.

The win left Lazio sitting pretty at the top of Group E, two points above Atletico Madrid, who faced Feyenoord in Rotterdam later on Tuesday (20:00 GMT).

For Celtic, though, their meeting with the Dutch in Glasgow in two weeks will be their final continental game of this term.

After that, they will reflect on a frustrating campaign and one undermined by red cards and lapses of concentration.

Celtic avoided the former in Rome, but the latter were again in evidence, even if there was an admirable doughtiness about much of their play. Too often, promising scenarios floundered on the back of a slack pass or split second of indecision.

Their best moments came early in the second half. Kyogo Furuhashi skidded wide from the apex of the area before Yang Hyun-jun inexplicably headed away from goal in the hope of finding a team-mate when an attempt on target was on.

That was as good as it got, with even a late penalty award - and the chance of a slither of consolation - overturned.

Lazio, out of form and in a bad place domestically, were similarly sloppy for much of the game, but the Serie A side possess a menace in the final third that Celtic lack.

Felipe Anderson, Taty Castellanos, Isaksen and Luis Alberto all spurned fine chances before Immobile removed his jacket and showed them how to do it.

He was the difference and ensures Lazio's European adventure continues, while Celtic's draws to a close.

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