Madrid - Valencia closed in on the
last 16 of the Europa League by inflicting just Celtic's second home
defeat of the season with a 2-0 win in Glasgow on Thursday.
the Celtic offside trap was broken with ease either side of half-time as
Ruben Sobrino's pass was tapped home by Denis Cheryshev before the
Russian turned provider for Sobrino to net on his Valencia debut after a
January move from Alaves.
Brendan Rodgers's men now have a mountain to climb when
the sides meet for the second leg of the last-32 tie in Spain on
February 21 given the gulf in class on show between the Scottish
champions and the side that finish fourth in La Liga last season.
a disappointing performance in the end," said Rodgers. "When you make
the number of mistakes we made with simple passes you become a wee bit
safe and that was the story of our game.
"At this level you have to concentrate and you can't put pressure on ourselves. Tonight we put pressure on ourselves."
Salzburg in the group stage of the Europa League had emerged victorious
from a visit to Celtic Park previously this campaign and buoyed by a
run of seven straight wins since the winter break in Scotland, the home
side started positively.
Callum McGregor forced Valencia
goalkeeper Neto to scramble low to his left to turn the ball to safety
and James Forrest saw speculative claims for a penalty waved away.
Valencia quickly took control with captain Dani Parejo pulling the
strings in midfield and only a super save from Scott Bain denied Daniel
Wass from opening the scoring with a powerful header.
created their own problems by gifting away possession inside their own
half and were eventually punished three minutes before the break when
Parejo picked out Sobrino's well-timed run despite the home side's pleas
for an offside flag and he unselfishly squared for Cheryshev to roll
into an empty net.
The same two players combined four minutes into
the second half as Cheryshev's teasing cross split Bain and the Celtic
defenders for Sobrino to volley home.
The introduction of Odsonne
Edouard and PSG loanee Timothy Weah lifted Celtic on the hour mark, but
Weah blasted over the hosts' best chance to get a foothold in the tie.
"It's a big challenge for us now but if we get that first goal next week it maybe gives us hope in the tie," added Rodgers.