GIBRALTAR: Former European champions Celtic suffered one of the most humiliating defeats in their history when they lost 1-0 to Gibraltar’s part-timers Lincoln Red Imps in the Champions League second qualifying round.
Lee Casciaro’s second-half goal did the damage, the Ministry of Defence police officer outfoxing Efe Ambrose to score.
Leigh Griffiths twice hit the bar, but Celtic could not salvage anything from Brendan Rodgers’ first game in charge. The second leg is at Celtic Park next Wednesday.
The result was no more than Lincoln Red Imps deserved, a team containing a fireman, a policeman and a taxi driver having more than matched their illustrious opponents after completing shifts at their day jobs.
European performance will be the yardstick by which Rodgers is judged, with Champions League defeats against Malmo, Maribor and Legia Warsaw casting a shadow over predecessor Ronny Deila’s two years in charge.
Rodgers spoke pre-match of his pride in taking charge of the former European champions for the first time but the reality is that this will rank as the most embarrassing result of his career to date.
A goalless first half gave some indication of the task facing Celtic.
The visitors dominated possession from the start but struggled to find their rhythm, on a less-than-ideal artificial surface and in the face of a tigerish Red Imps side who defended well, impishly swarming around Griffiths and Moussa Dembele at every turn.
The hosts had the first chance when Liam Walker forced a routine save from goalkeeper Craig Gordon after some tidy approach play, while moments later Celtic had a goal disallowed after Dembele jumped with goalkeeper Raul Navas to contest a Scott Brown free kick.
The second half half saw Casciaro – who scored Gibraltar’s first competitive international goal, against Scotland at Hampden in March 2015 – struck the most famus winning goal of his career.