Celtic freeze in Norway

Rosenborg 2 Celtic 0
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The Independent Football

Harald Brattbakk came back to haunt Celtic last night with two goals which dealt a massive blow to his old club's Champions' League ambitions.

The former Parkhead misfit looked anything but in frozen Trondheim. It was Martin O'Neill's side who slipped, for the second successive away match in Group E.

The only way Celtic can now progress to the next phase is to beat Juventus, who qualified last night, in Glasgow next week and hope that Brattbakk can resume his old pals' act by delivering a draw in Oporto. However, there will have to be a massive improvement from the Scottish champions.

Celtic were desperate to atone for their mauling last week at Porto. If they were looking for contrasts, the Lerkendal Stadium could not have offered a greater one: the mild weather of Portugal had given way to sub-zero temperatures, with winter biting early in northern Norway.

Ice was forming on the pitch by kick-off, offering one reason why Real Madrid, Bayern Munich and Juventus have all failed to win here. Another, is the shrewd Nils Arne Eggen, who has taken Rosenborg to the brink of a 10th Norwegian title and this seventh successive Champions' League group stage.

Not surprisingly, both sets of players struggled to master the treacherous conditions, which was underlined when Brattbakk wildly sliced a volley from Bobo Balde's misplaced header.

However, Brattbakk's poise had recovered when the chance came in the 18th minute to break the deadlock. A long ball from Janne Saarinen allowed Siggi Rushfeldt to beat Johan Mjallby in the jump to guide the ball down to Brattbakk who punished his former club by rifling a right-foot volley past Robert Douglas from 20 yards.

Chris Sutton and Henrik Larsson could barely stay on their feet as Celtic struggled. Brattbakk, though, relished everything and struck again on 35 minutes.

The striker fed his partner, Rushfeldt, with a neat reverse pass and when the latter's shot was blocked by the feet of Douglas, the rebound fell to Brattbakk who drilled it into the net from 14 yards.

Brattbakk passed up the chance for a hat-trick eight minutes later, when a penalty was awarded when he dived after being brushed by Balde, though a measure of justice was restored when Douglas saved Bent Skammelsrud's kick.

Celtic urgently needed to capitalise on their break, and 10 minutes into the second half Larsson finally offered evidence of some resistance.

Didier Agathe's pass released Sutton to chase a ball which was clipped in from the byline, allowing Larsson to fashion a glancing volley which goalkeeper Arni Arason blocked.

That fired Celtic. Seven minutes later Neil Lennon foraged for the ball and again supplied Agathe whose cross picked out Larsson at the back post, but the striker's header crashed off the crossbar.

Sutton was brought down on the edge of the box a few minutes later, but the substitute Lubomir Moravcik curled the free-kick just wide. The final, vain throw of the dice was the arrival of John Hartson, for Thompson, with 12 minutes left.

Rosenborg (4-3-3): Arason; Olsen, Hoftun, Basma, Saarinen; Strand, Skammelsrud, Berg (Wisnes, 73); George (B Johnsen, 82), Rushfeldt, Brattbakk. Substitutes not used: E Johnsen (gk), F Johnsen, Knutsen, Blixt, Stensaas.

Celtic (3-5-2): Douglas; Mjallby, Balde, Valgaeren; Agathe, Lambert, Lennon, Petrov (Moravcik, 66), Thompson (Hartson, 78); Sutton, Larsson. Substitutes not used: Kharine (gk), Sylla, McNamara, Tebily, Guppy.

Referee: J Marin (Spain).

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