Celtic’s Champions League hopes were ended after a 2-1 qualifying defeat by AEK Athens in Greece saw them lose 3-2 on aggregate.
Brendan Rodgers, who had taken the Hoops to the group stages of the competition in his first two years in charge, had admitted the third qualifying round tie in the Olympic Stadium was his biggest qualifying challenge to date following the 1-1 draw in the first leg at Parkhead last week.
Within six minutes his side were trailing to a Rodrigo Galo strike and it looked a forlorn task for the visitors when Croatian striker Marko Livaja headed in a second five minutes after the break.
Parkhead substitute Scott Sinclair pulled a goal back in the 78th minute but despite a grand finale the Scottish champions could not fashion a second which would have put them through on away goals.
Dropping down to the Europa League, where they will play Latvian side Spartaks Jurmala or Lithuanian side Suduva, is a huge blow for Celtic who will miss out on the prestige – not to mention the vast sums of money – to be earned in the Champions League.
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