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Football: Hapless Celtic bow out of Champions League

Legia Warsaw handed Celtic a humbling 2-0 defeat in the second leg of their Champions League third round qualifier at Murrayfield to complete a resounding 6-1 aggregate win on Wednesday (Aug 6).

EDINBURGH: Legia Warsaw handed Celtic a humbling 2-0 defeat in the second leg of their Champions League third round qualifier at Murrayfield to complete a resounding 6-1 aggregate win on Wednesday (Aug 6).

The Scottish giants, who trailed 4-1 from the first leg in Poland, had started the match hoping for a repeat of last season's feat when they secured the 3-0 home victory over Shakhter Karagandy they needed to qualify for the group stages of Europe's elite competition.

However, the Hoops, who were aiming for a third successive season in the Champions League group stages, never looked like turning the tie around and saw their hopes crushed in the 36th minute when MichalZyro raced in on goal to fire Legia in front.

Michael Kucharczyk then took advantage of some slack Celtic defending to add to the Parkhead club's misery in the 61st minute and send his side into the Champions League play-off stage while Celtic drop into the play-off round for the Europa League.

Celtic manager Ronny Delia, in only his fourth competitive match in charge, said his side lacked the quality to qualify for the Champions League group stage. "Today we lost to the better team. We started okay and tried to put them under pressure but didn't create anything," he said.

"Then we conceded an easy goal so then it was always going to be hard. I think the players were giving everything they could but we didn't have the quality to break them down and win the game. I have to except that's the level we're at right now and I have a big job to do."

Legia boss Henning Berg, who played for Celtic's bitter rivals Rangers, said he was proud of his players performances. "I am so pleased for the players that they were able to play at this level and show their qualities in a such a big game as this," said the 44-year-old Norwegian, who is enjoying a happier time as coach than a short spell he had in charge of Blackburn Rovers in 2012. I think we showed we are a good side with good potential and this is a big step forward for us as a team and a club."

Delia made three changes to his side with Nir Biton, a bit-part player under predecessor Neil Lennon, handed a place in midfield and Anthony Stokes preferred to Teemu Pukki as Celtic chased the three goals they needed to progress.

With such a healthy advantage from the first leg the Legia Warsaw players were content to allow Celtic plenty of possession in the opening 10 minutes until they were presented with the first real opportunity of the match. A poor defensive clearance only went as far as Ivica Vrdoljak but the midfielder, who missed two penalties in the first leg, sent his effort straight at Forster.

Any lingering hopes Celtic had of pulling off a shock comeback in the tie were brutally ended by Zyro's clinical goal. A simple ball over the top caused panic in the Celtic defence and Zyro, who had tormented the Scottish champions in the first leg, brushed past Izaguirre to drill a shot in to the bottom left-hand corner.

Delia replaced defender Mikel Lustig with Scottish striker Leigh Griffiths shortly after the break as he desperately sought a way back into the match.

However, things were to get worse for Celtic on the hour mark when some slack defending allowed Kucharczyk to double Legia's advantage. The Polish player waltzed through the Celtic defence before rounding Forster and firing the ball into the net, much to the dismay of the home support.

Results from the UEFA Champions League third qualifying round, second leg:

Zenit St Petersburg (RUS) 3 AEL Limassol (CYP) 0
(Zenit win 3-1 on aggregate)

APOEL (CYP) 2 HJK Helsinki (FIN) 0
(APOEL win 4-2 on aggregate)

Malmo (SWE) 2 Sparta Prague (CZE) 0
(Aggregate 4-4. Malmo win on away goals)

Sheriff Tiraspol (MDA) 0 Slovan Bratislava (SVK) 0
(Slovan win 2-1 on aggregate)

Steaua Bucharest (ROM) 2 Aktobe (KAZ) 1
(Steaua win 4-3 on aggregate)

Besiktas (TUR) 3 Feyenoord (NED) 1
(Besikitas win 5-2 on aggregate)

FC Copenhagen (DEN) 2 Dnipro (UKR) 0
(Copenhagen win 2-0 on aggregate)

Salzburg (AUT) 2 Qarabag (AZE) 0
(Salzburg win 3-2 on aggregate)

Celtic (SCO) 0 Legia Warsaw (POL) 2
(Legia win 6-1 on aggregate)

Dinamo Zagreb (CRO) 0 Aalborg (DEN) 2
(Aalborg win 2-1 on aggregate)

Partizan Belgrade (SRB) 2 Ludogorets Razgrad (BUL) 2
(2-2 on aggregate. Ludogorets win on away goals) 

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