Celtic crashed out of Europe after a thumping defeat by Milan guaranteed they would finish bottom of their group.
With Ajax beating Barcelona 2-1 at the Amsterdam Arena, the Scottish champions do not even have the safety net of the Europa League this season.
It completed a terrible day for Celtic whose preparations for the game were severely disrupted when it emerged that midfielder James Forrest had been arrested by Police Scotland in connection with an alleged sexual assault. After much speculation the 22-year-old played last night but the upheaval was hardly ideal for manager Neil Lennon.
Celtic had actually started the stronger, Beram Kayal missing a good chance in the sixth minute in front of goal, but gifted Milan the opener in the 12th minute. Unmarked at the six-yard box when Valter Birsa’s corner came over from the right, Kaka had the easiest of tasks heading past Fraser Forster.
The home side tried to find a way back into the game yet left themselves vulnerable to Milan counter-attacks, Mario Balotelli and Kaka both going close.
The game turned in a minute early in the second period. In the 48th minute, when Charlie Mulgrew’s free-kick was blocked by the wall, he lobbed the ball into the box to find the unmarked Virgil van Dijk but the Dutchman blasted a volley straight at Christian Abbiati in the Milan goal.
A minute later Celtic were two behind and on their way out of Europe. Birsa’s lofted corner from the right was met by substitute Antonio Nocerino and he steered the ball across goal to the back post where Cristia Zapata was in perfect position to knock it in from a yard out.
Celtic looked as if they had got themselves back into the game soon afterwards when Van Dijk headed in a Joe Ledley cross but the offside flag was up. When Balotelli escaped the home defence in the 61st minute to pick up a Riccardo Montolivo pass and steer the ball past Forster from close range it truly was all over for Celtic.Reuse content