A nightmare first-half display by the Celtic defender Gary Caldwell helped Benfica to dish out a three-goal drubbing in Champions' League Group F match in Lisbon last night.
The Scotland international scored an own goal after just 10 minutes and, to compound his error, a misplaced header from a long kick by the Benfica goalkeeper Quim 12 minutes later allowed Nuno Gomes to grab a second.
A strike by the substitute Andrei Karyaka in the 76th minute sealed victory and brought Benfica to within two points of the second-placed Glasgow club with two games remaining.
The Celtic manager, Gordon Strachan, said his entire team must share responsibility for the defeat.
Strachan said: "If we had played better with the ball in the opening stages the chances might not have arrived and you wouldn't get individual mistakes. So you don't just call it an individual mistake and put it away. You have to ask why he was put in that position.
"We will have to look at that and why we weren't a threat in the first 10 to 15 minutes either. There is a lot to analyse, but it would be simple to say it was two mistakes. That would be an easy way to go about it and I don't think we will do that. We have to share this as a group because it was a group performance."
The Stadium of Light, with around 8,000 Celtic fans inside, provided an inspiring backdrop for the encounter . The Glasgow club knew three points, and a win for Manchester United against Copenhagen in the group's other match, would seal their place in the next phase of the tournament.
However, Strachan could not have imagined how badly the first half was to go for his team. There had been little previous danger when Caldwell put through his own goal after just 10 minutes. Nelson's cross from the right was heading towards Fabrizio Miccoli at the back post when the Scotland international, in his haste to clear, knocked the ball past a helpless Celtic goalkeeper Artur Boruc.
More disaster ensued for Caldwell in the 21st minute when another mistake led to the home side going two up. A long punt from the Benfica goalkeeper Quim was heading harmlessly for Boruc, but Caldwell inexplicably tried to help the ball on with his head, knocking it to Nuno Gomes who drove home from 12 yards out.
Celtic began the second-half in positive fashion but the hosts remained a threat going forward. The Portuguese continued to press for the third goal and it came in the 76th minute courtesy of the substitute Karyaka to cap a night of misery for Strachan's team, who next face Manchester United at Celtic Park.
Benfica (4-1-2-1-2): Quim; Nelson, Luisao, Ricardo Rocha, Leo; Petit (Beto,84); Karagounis, Nuno Assis; Simao; Nuno Gomes (Mantorras, 89), Miccoli (Karyaka, 67). Substitutes not used: Moretto, Anderson, Miguelito, Paulo Jorge.
Celtic (4-4-1-1): Boruc; Telfer, Caldwell, McManus, Naylor; Nakamura; Sno (Zurawski, 72), Lennon, Pearson, Maloney (McGeady, 65); Miller. Substitutes not used: Marshall, Baldé, Riordan, Jarosik, O'Dea.
Referee: K Vassaras (Greece).Reuse content