Celtic suffered a disappointing start to their Champions League campaign as they went down 2-0 to Feyenoord in Rotterdam, ending the night with only 9 men.
After an evenly matched first half, Calvin Stengs put the Erdivisie winners ahead from a direct free kick minutes before the break, with questions being asked of Joe Hart’s positioning and integrity of Celtic’s defensive wall.
The second half would prove difficult for the Scottish outfit when Gustaf Lagerbielke first gave away a penalty and then saw red for a pull in the box.
Stopper Hart found some redemption in denying Igor Paixao from the spot but things got worse moments later when Odin Thiago Holm was sent to the dressing room for a high tackle.
Feyenoord did seal the game with their second through Alireza Jahanbakhsh, leaving Brendan Rodgers to lament his side’s errors on matchday one.
Celtic arrived in the Netherlands to face Feyenoord looking to make fast start in Champions League Group E, with Lazio and Atletico Madrid looming over the horizon.
De Kuip, translated literally to ‘The Tub’, filled up almost half an hour before kick off as the players were subject to a raucous warm-up on a blustery Rotterdam night.
Reo Hatate returned to the starting XI alongside debutant Luis Palma as Celtic started the brighter of the sides.
The hosts were missing talismanic Mexican forward Santiago Gimenez, serving a suspension carried over from the previous campaign, and although the grew in confidence as the half wore on, their forwards remained blunt in the final third.
As it looked as though the sides would go in level at the break, Feyenoord broke the deadlock on the stroke of half-time. Calvin Stengs lined up a free kick and curled his effort beyond the palms of Joe Hart, sending the home fans delirious.
The former England stopper looked aggrieved the his wall had not done more to block the shot although the veteran keeper seemed to make Stengs mind up for him, with the left hand corner gaping for the attacker to find the net.
Feyenoord’s youthful side seemed buoyant on the back of the late goal and were then gifted a golden opportunity to double their advantage from the spot just after the hour mark, when Gustaf Lagerbielke received a second yellow card for a pull on Igor Paixao in the box.
If there were questions over goalkeeper Hart for the opening goal, he went some way to redeeming himself with a huge save from Paixao’s spot kick effort.
Whilst Celtic’s task of getting back into the contest looked daunting with 10 men, it was made almost impossible when substitute Odin Thiago Holm was also given his marching orders for a high challenge on his Champions League debut.
The 9 men looked to have been punished almost instantly when Lutsharel Geertruida was played through from the resultant free kick and clipped the ball over the advancing Hart. VAR would rescue the away side however, as the Dutch right back was deemed to be offside.
It didn’t take long for Arnie Slot’s men to make the numerical advantage count though and it was 2-0 with 15 minutes remaining. Alistair Johnston headed a cross off his own line only as far as Alireza Jahanbakhsh who smashed home a second.
Rodgers’ side put up a spirited display despite the two man disadvantage, as Ondrej Lingr had a third goal chopped off for the home side, but they will now be lighter in numbers with the tough tests of Lazio and Atletico Madrid to come.