Rodgers' Celtic lose to semi-pro side from Gibraltar in Champions League

Lincoln Red Imps

Celtic suffered arguably the worst defeat in their history when they were humbled by Gibraltarian 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.

And while the Scottish champions remain favourites to progress to the third qualifying round, serious improvement will be needed.

Merited victory for part-timers

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 perhaps 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.

‘Biggest shock in the history of European football’

Lee Casciaro (right) gave Lincoln Red Imps a shock lead in the second half

Celtic needed to up the ante in the second half but it was the Red Imps who struck.

Casciaro – who scored Gibraltar’s first competitive goal, against Scotland at Hampden in March 2015 – got on the end of a long ball, turned Ambrose and prodded in.

Just two minutes later, a shell-shocked Celtic had a let off when Antonio Calderon scampered away from a quick free-kick but fired inches over Gordon’s crossbar.

With Celtic facing what Imps captain and customs officer Roy Chipolina said would be the biggest shock in European football history, Griffiths smashed a shot off the crossbar.

Rodgers, who had earlier introduced James Forrest and Stuart Armstrong, went to the well for the final time and introduced Nadir Ciftci for the ineffective Dembele but the Turk found the lack of service just as frustrating.

Griffiths rattled the crossbar once more from a free kick, and Nir Bitton was denied a tap-in on the rebound by a superb Ryan Casciaro tackle.

Navas then denied Ciftci from a header, palming the ball away, but lacklustre Celtic were left humbled and humiliated by the effervescent underdogs.


Lincoln Red Imps FC

  • 1Navas Paul
  • 3Chipolina
  • 7Casciaro