Celtic 0-2 Borussia Monchengladbach: Blow for Brendan Rodgers in Champions League race
Celtic lost 2-0 to Borussia Monchengladbach in their Champions League Group C match at Celtic Park.
The Hoops' Champions League aspirations were blown apart by Monchengladbach who were more than worth their 2-0 win at Parkhead.
The Hoops went into the game buoyed by their 3-3 draw with Manchester City on match day two last month.
However, keeper Craig Gordon had to make several crucial saves in a first half largely controlled by the slick-moving Bundesliga outfit who picked up their first points in Group C.
Captain Lars Stindl got the breakthrough in the 57th minute and then Andre Hahn made it 2-0 on the break in the 77th minute - both times Celtic defender Kolo Toure was found wanting - to leave Brendan Rodgers' side with one point from a possible nine, ahead of the return fixture in Germany in two weeks' time.
The Scottish champions have still to play Barcelona at home and City away which meant it was always going to be a key match.
The visitors arrived without a point after two matches and with a squad hit by injury and illness.
Hoops boss Rodgers made four changes to his side with Toure, Mikael Lustig, Nir Bitton and Tom Rogic returning to form the same starting 11 which tested City to the limit.
And without a domestic defeat this season, there was no lack of confidence ahead of the game.
Another packed house at Celtic Park, however, saw the visitors start the game with pace and purpose.
In the first couple of minutes Toure got back to block an angled drive from Hahn after the German striker raced on to a pass from Stindl.
The corner came to nothing but it was an early warning for Celtic.
A Bitton free-kick in the 15th minute was pushed round the post by Gladbach keeper Yann Sommer for a corner but aside from that, the Bundesliga side looked in control.
The game zipped from end to end.
Gordon made a great save from Ibrahima Traore after the Gladbach wide man had been set up by Jonas Hofmann, the Parkhead keeper gathering the low drive at the second attempt with Hahn lurking.
The Scotland keeper made another good save in the 26th minute, this time from Hofmann's stinging drive after the visitors again exploited space behind left-back Kieran Tierney.
The home supporters grew increasingly agitated as Gordon tipped a drive from Hahn over the bar after another swift Gladbach break.
But after all that, the Hoops should have gone into the interval with a goal.
Rogic's defence-splitting pass found Scott Sinclair but with plenty of time and only Sommer to beat, he scooped his shot over the bar.
Borussia defender Tobias Strobl came close with a curling shot from 25 yards early in the second half but the opener was only moments away.
There looked little danger as Toure tried to shepherd a loose ball out of play.
However, Hahn refused to give it up and hooked the ball back to Stindl who, from an angle, drilled through Gordon's legs from 10 yards before taking the acclaim of the away fans.
Callum McGregor, Leigh Griffiths and Patrick Roberts came on for Bitton, Rogic and James Forrest as Rodgers tried another route back into the game.
But the points were heading back to Germany when Hahn burst through towards the Celtic penalty area chased by Toure, who had been dispossessed, and Lustig, before he knocked it high past Gordon to seal a good night's work for Andre Schubert's men.
Hoops will show we've made strides since City thriller, says Brendan Rodgers
Brendan Rodgers insists Celtic have become a better side since facing Manchester City and is looking for confirmation against Borussia Monchengladbach tonight.
Coming into their Champions League clash with the Germans, the Hoops are unbeaten domestically and hugely encouraged by the 3-3 home draw against the Premier League superstars.
Celtic have one point from two Group C fixtures while the Bundesliga outfit are yet to get off the mark after defeats to City and Barcelona.
Rodgers is looking for his side to show their recent improvement and get the win that would put them in the driving seat for a Europa League spot at least.
"Since we played against Manchester City we are a better team and we are getting better as each day goes on," said the Ulsterman.
"The younger players are gaining experience and this type of occasion will benefit the players.
"But of course we're here to win and in our home games we want to ensure we get a victory.
"We always felt it would be fantastic if we could be in European football after Christmas.
"In a very short period of time the players have made great strides and this competition was always going to help us on the journey of developing players.
"That will take time but you saw the performance against Man City, it was a real high level. We were disappointed we didn't get the win in the end but the performance level was particularly pleasing.
"We showed we can compete at this level and you have to show that you can back that up and tomorrow will be another brilliant game.
"We have to set the tone for the supporters who are amazing and hopefully we will get the three points."
Hoops fans can be all but sure of another exhilarating European night, with the former Swansea and Liverpool boss saying: "There is an obligation here as Celtic manager. I feel a responsibility to put out a team that plays with power, speed, creativity and unpredictability.
"We have players at the moment who are doing fantastic in this early part of the season but we are looking to develop that while having that improvisation and invention that I like in the team.
"But up until now the players couldn't have done any more."
Meanwhile, defender Erik Sviatchenko is looking for Celtic Park to put the frighteners on the Germans tonight.
Sviatchenko is hoping Monchengladbach will be as affected as City were at a place which he believes should be a fortress for the Scottish champions.
"When players and teams come here they need to be frightened," he said. "To draw a parallel to the City game you could see that they were struggling even though they are really big stars.
"So we will do our best to create that intensity and with the fans this combination will be good.
"My first experience against City in this tournament was really big, imagine being on the opposition side, feeling that pressure, especially in the last couple of minutes of the game when we needed their help?
"They were really helping us so if they can put in a performance like the last time, Gladbach will be a bit frightened.
"If they were thinking that it was an easy game before the City game I think they will be a bit surprised because every game is a difficult game."
- Celtic v Borussia M'bach, Champions League Group C: Parkhead, Tonight 7.45pm