Celtic’s u-19 side were taught some painful lessons as they crashed 3-1 to their Milan counterparts in the opening match of the first ever UEFA Youth Champions League.
The side coached by Stevie Frail and John Kennedy matched their hosts in many areas but weren’t as clinical in and around goal although some questionable home town decisions contributed to the visitors defeat.
Jamie Lindsay’s headed equaliser in the 43rd minutes was the highlight of the match for the visitors but two second half goals from the hosts ensured that the points stayed with the home side.
With no overage players allowed in the u-19 competition there were a number of new faces in the Celtic side alongside the relatively experienced quartet of Stuart Findlay, Lewis Kidd, Lindsay and Denny Johnstone who all played in last season’s Next Gen competition.
German goalkeeper, Max Oberschmidt, on loan from Fulham, made his debut after deputising for Leo Fasan in the SPFL action.
Celtic got off to the worst possible start when they fell behind in the seventh minute when Marco Pinato curled a free kick around the defensive wall into the net.
Undeterred the young hoops battled back into the match impressing with their short passing and composure on the ball with both full-backs stepping up to form a six strong midfield.
On the half hour Celtic had strong appeals for a penalty waved away when McMullan was sent tumbling in the penalty box as he raced onto a pass from Henderson.
Two minutes from the interval Celtic deservedly levelled the scores with a set piece straight from the training ground.
Henderson returned McMullan’s short corner with the cross into the back post met by the unmarked Lindsay who headed home from within the six yard box.
Unfortunately Milan were back in front five minutes into the second half when Pinato scored from a penalty awarded against Findlay.
Celtic pushed forward at every opportunity matching their opponents in every aspect but unable to make their possession pay off in the final third of the half.
Midway through the second half Johnstone forced a good save out of Andrenacci with the keeper pushing the rebound wide for a corner.
As has been the case down the years against Italian sides Celtic were taught a lesson in finishing in the 75th minute when Tamas showed some quick feet in the penalty box before drilling a low 18 yard drive across Oberschmidt into the corner of the net.
Celtic finished the match on the attack with Luke Donnelly and Johnstone testing the home keeper but the destiny of the points was never in danger.
Milan: Andrenacci, Rondanini, Tamas, Simic, Piccinocchi, Saporetti, Pinato, Calabria, Cernigoi, Mastalli, Barisic.
Subs: Ferrari, Di Molfetta, Gamarra, De Santis, Vido, Fabbro, Claveria. Coach: Inzaghi.
Celtic: Oberschmidt; Sam Wardrop (Joe Thomson 88), Stuart Findlay Eoghan O’Connell , Aidan McIlduff; Conor McManus, Lewis Kidd (Luke Donnelly 80), Jamie Lindsay, Liam Henderson, Paul McMullan; Denny Johnstone
Subs: Hart, Boyd, Thomson, McLaren, Breslin, McCart.