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Real Betis vs Celtic. UEFA Europa League Group G.

Benito VillamarinAttendance30,893.

Real Betis 4

  • J Miranda (32nd minute)
  • Juanmi (34th minute, 53rd minute)
  • B Iglesias Quintas (50th minute)

Celtic 3

  • A Ajeti (13th minute)
  • J Juranovic (27th minute pen)
  • A Ralston (87th minute)

Real Betis 4-3 Celtic: Hoops let early advantage slip in Seville

Match report as Celtic are beaten in Seville in the Europa League having opened up an early 2-0 lead

Celtic suffered an alarming collapse at Real Betis
Image: Celtic suffered an alarming collapse at Real Betis

Celtic let slip a two-goal lead as Real Betis ruthlessly exposed their defensive vulnerabilities to win the Europa League Group G tie 4-3 in Seville.

Betis' four-goal blitz either side of half-time means Celtic remain without a win in Spain in European competition from their last19 attempts.

Celtic had raced out of the blocks on a scorching evening in Seville. From Jota's cross, Albian Ajeti bundled Ange Postecoglou's side into a deserved early lead, with the goal awarded after a VAR check into an alleged handball.

The visitors continued to threaten and after 25 minutes former Manchester City goalkeeper Claudio Bravo brought down Ajeti in the box and Josip Juranovic confidently converted his penalty.

Moments later, Jota was denied by Bravo and Celtic were soon made to rue the missed opportunity.

After the new-look Celtic defence failed to clear its lines, Juan Miranda slotted past Joe Hart and Betis then scored their second goal in as many minutes when Borja Iglesias beat a wonky offside trap and presented Juanmi with an open goal.

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Ange Postecoglou has the backing of the Celtic supporters despite losing at Real Betis in his Europa League debut, says former Hoops striker Andy Walker

But Celtic's defensive frailties were further exposed at the start of the second half when Iglesias turned in Sergio Canales' cross and then Juanmi's shot found the bottom corner after Celtic failed to clear a corner.

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Anthony Ralston pulled a goal back late on with a close-range header but time ran out on Celtic to complete an unlikely rescue act.

The Hoops were missing key players such as captain Callum McGregor, Kyogo Furuhashi, James Forrest, Liel Abada and Greg Taylor, while new striker Georgios Giakoumakis was not ready to feature.

They were also without an away support with hundreds of fans locked outside Estadio Benito Villamarin following a decree by local authorities in the city which hosted tens of thousands of Hoops supporters for the 2003 UEFA Cup final.

But Celtic started on the front foot and Ajeti followed up his weekend double against Ross County to give them a 15th-minute lead and deliver a blow to Betis boss Manuel Pellegrini, who signed him for West Ham two years ago.

There was an element of fortune about Ajeti's goal, which was initially ruled out for handball before being overturned by VAR, after an attempted clearance bounced off the striker and into the net.

Celtic celebrate Albian Ajeti's bundled opener
Image: Celtic celebrate Albian Ajeti's bundled opener

But the lead was just reward for a brilliant counter-attack featuring moments of skill from Tom Rogic, David Turnbull and winger Jota.

Stand-in skipper Hart also delivered a blow to his former Manchester City boss Pellegrini when he pulled off a one-handed stop from Andres Guardado but Celtic continued to attack with Ajeti, Rogic and Turnbull all threatening.

Ismaila Soro avoided a second yellow card after a late challenge during a Betis break which ended with Hart making a decent stop and the referee further incurred the wrath of the home fans when he awarded Celtic a penalty, although a
video check showed there was no doubt.

More good play from Rogic and Turnbull had sent Ajeti through and goalkeeper Bravo brought him down with a rash challenge.

Stand-in left-back Juranovic produced a confident finish to put Celtic two ahead in the 27th minute.

Jota had the chance to put Celtic three up following a brilliant ball by Turnbull but Bravo made a good stop.

Celtic's lead soon evaporated though with Miranda netting in the 32nd minute after a one-two, moments after hitting the post.

The hosts were level three minutes later after a failed attempt to play offside by Cameron Carter-Vickers. Iglesias squared for Juanmi to knock home.

Real Betis had levelled before half-time
Image: Real Betis had levelled before half-time

There were half-chances at either end as the second period began before Betis took the lead in the 51st minute.

With Ralston making his way back from an attack, Soro was slow to cut out a cross and Iglesias got in between Celtic's two centre-backs to flick home at the near post.

Two minutes later, Juanmi ran onto a half-cleared corner, chested the ball down and fired in off the post through a crowd of bodies.

Celtic might have got back into it earlier. Ajeti was denied by an offside flag as he headed home a Rogic cross and the Australian midfielder volleyed against the post.

Turnbull and Ajeti had efforts saved before the former's excellent free-kick was headed home by Ralston from close range, but there was no happy ending for Celtic.

What's next?

Celtic are away to Livingston in the Scottish Premiership on Sunday, with kick-off at 3pm. Their next Europa League game is at home to Bayer Leverkusen on September 30.

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