Barry Maguire celebrates his goal against Celtic, Utrecht's fourth
By Keir Murray
Disjointed Celtic were eliminated from the Europa League in brutal fashion by Utrecht, conceding four goals in a one-sided second leg in the Netherlands.
Utrecht drew level on aggregate after only 20 minutes, Ricky van Wolfswinkel converting two penalties from fouls by Jos Hooiveld and keeper Lukasz Zaluska.
Van Wolfswinkel scored his third in almost the opening move of the second half, a curling shot from 18 yards.
And Barry Maguire compounded the misery with a hammered drive in 63 minutes.
Celtic were defending a 2-0 lead and went into the match at the Stadion Galgenwaard in confident mood, having developed a degree of momentum domestically.
Defenders Charlie Mulgrew, Mark Wilson, Thomas Rogne and Andreas Hinkel were unavailable for Celtic through injury; those who featured for the visitors at the back were given a torrid time.
Celtic were given an early fright when Alje Schut headed across goal and the ball fell to van Wolfswinkel, but he mis-hit his shot, producing a weak effort with the outside of his boot.
A minute later Dries Mertens fired a free-kick past the Celtic wall that Zaluska parried to safety, then, as confidence spread through the home side, they won a penalty when Michael Silberbauer was sent spinning just inside the box by Jos Hooiveld.
One firmly struck effort from 12 yards by van Wolfswinkel sent the ball soaring high into the net and the home fans began to believe that they could yet progress.
The pressure was increased on the Scots when Mertens sped away from Scott Brown on the left wing, cut into the box and, in a 50-50 challenge with Zaluska, tumbled at the front post.
It looked as though the Pole had got a touch on the ball but had caught the Belgian midfielder's leg too. Once more it was van Wolfswinkel who despatched the penalty, levelling the match on aggregate with a low shot to Zaluska's right.
Celtic simply could not get going, with the Mexican international Efrain Juarez often advancing at pace from midfield but his final ball lacked threat.
With five minutes to go until the break, Utrecht blew the chance to move ahead in the tie for the first time.
Celtic manager Neil Lennon holds his head in despair
The troublesome duo of van Wolfswinkel and Mertens combined once more, the former curling a delicious cross for the little midfielder who side-footed the ball into the ground and off the crossbar.
Celtic manager Neil Lennon, no doubt aghast at his team's inability to register any effort of note in 45 minutes, had the interval to work on his players.
Yet the Northern Irishman's second-half plan was shattered after 76 seconds of the re-start, when, in a swift attack, the hesitant back line of Cha Du-Ri, Daniel Majstorovic, Hooiveld and Joe Ledley were pulled from right to left, and failed to put in a challenge to prevent van Wolfswinkel from completing his hat-trick with a curling left-foot shot from 18 yards.
While victories over Inverness, St Mirren and the first-leg 2-0 win over Utrecht had puffed the chests of Celtic ahead of the second leg, in the drizzle in the Netherlands they very much looked like a team recently assembled, such was their lack of cohesion.
With a full 30 minutes to play, the ranks of fans in red and white were rejoicing once more when Barry Maguire powered a low right-footed shot into the corner of the net.
Lennon sent on Paddy McCourt, instantly adding a sense of urgency to Celtic's play. Soon Cha Du-Ri's curling cross was met by the disappointing Fortune, whose attempted header was diverted for a corner.
And it could have been worse for the Glasgow side, van Wolfswinkel blasting an angled shot straight at Zaluska when a pass across goal would most likely have produced a fifth.
The ability of Silberbauer to win a header at the back post with six minutes left, despite being surrounded by Celtic players, epitomised the lack of conviction in his opponents and the greater hunger of the Dutch.
McCourt's eagerness gave the 1,200 travelling fans occasional cheer but neither he nor his team-mates could claim to have troubled Utrecht goalie Michel Vorm in the 90 minutes.
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