Almost 14 years have handed since Kaká swaggered previous Neil Lennon when en route to an extra-time winner in the San Siro to curtail Celtic’s Champions League involvement on the last-16 stage.
They had been heady days when mixing it with Europe’s elite appeared a seasonal formality. Lennon can snigger now about Kaká’s brilliance that night time, by which level the Celtic midfielder had run out of steam.
Lennon the supervisor returned to face Milan when that includes in an altogether totally different state of affairs. A League Cup defeat to Ross County intensified already fierce criticism of the Irishman, whose Celtic workforce had been eradicated from the Europa League lengthy earlier than one other joust in Italy. As Lennon’s workforce raced right into a two-goal lead, the notion of unlikely salvation was a dwell one. The gamers had been making the case for why their supervisor’s race won’t essentially be run.
Milan, minus Zlatan Ibrahimovic, gave Celtic a two-goal begin however nonetheless emerged fairly snug victors. Celtic’s error-prone defence has been breached 17 occasions in 5 group video games. Milan haven’t any such worries; they’ve now certified for the knock-out section.
Within 14 minutes Celtic had seemingly dismissed any sense of a cushty night for the Serie A leaders. Tom Rogic capitalised on the lack of Rade Krunic to management a cross from Gianluigi Donnarumma earlier than slamming a low shot past Milan’s highly-rated goalkeeper. As Rogic curled extensive moments later, the house facet’s sluggishness was obvious.
Callum McGregor ought to have doubled Celtic’s benefit from eight yards, with Donnarumma as an alternative in a position to bat away the midfielder’s tame shot. Odsonne Édouard quickly spared McGregor’s blushes with a dinked end from Ryan Christie’s cross. Celtic, who entered this fixture amid a run of solely two wins in 10 matches, had been entitled to be shocked at being two objectives in entrance.
The scale of their latest defensive hassle has been such that concession of at the least one objective in the San Siro was inevitable. Still, Lennon has trigger for immense frustration concerning the circumstances in which Milan hauled themselves again into the sport. Christie’s rash foul on Ante Rebic afforded Hakan Calhanoglu a central free-kick alternative from 20 yards. As the Celtic goalkeeper, Vasilis Barkas, took one step proper, Calhanoglu whipped his shot in the other way and into the online.
Milan’s subsequent assault restored parity. This was to show one other defensive catastrophe as Jens Petter Hauge’s cut-back was not handled by a clutch of visiting gamers. Samu Castillejo pounced to ship a excessive end which left Barkas helpless. Celtic spent the closing levels of the primary half beneath pressure however managed to keep away from conceding a 3rd objective.
It took simply 5 minutes of the second interval for it to arrive. Hauge weaved and bobbed his manner infield from the left flank, with Celtic’s defenders in no way forceful about stopping the Norwegian. His low, curling shot was a delight.
It appeared each groups had been content material to accept their lot till the Milan substitute Brahim Díaz added a fourth, the excellent Hauge this time the creator. For Lennon, Sunday’s assembly with St Johnstone was all the time the extra vital fixture. How occasions have modified.