The continuing downward spiral Scottish domestic football seems stuck in was cruelly in evidence again last night as none of their representatives in the Europa League managed to make it to the group stages, with the biggest humiliation being saved for Celtic.
With a comfortable 2-0 lead from the home leg Celtic were expected to be more than capable of at least holding out and taking the tie on aggregate, however the writing was on the wall after 20 minutes when Utrecht leveled the scores thanks to a second Ricky van Wolfswinkel penalty. He completed his hat trick early in the second half and when Barry Maguire added the fourth Celtic’s night to forget was completed.
Dundee United were always going to struggle to qualify against AEK following their home leg defeat and once they went 2-0 down on aggregate thanks to a nice goal from ex Fulham & Portsmouth midfielder Papa Bouba Diop they never looked like getting back into the game. An equaliser on the night briefly gave them some hope but AEK were the better team on the night. The match was watched by a tiny crowd of only 600, of which 500 were Dundee United fans due to AEK’s pitch being unplayable and the vandalisation of the alternative venue at Panionios. This meant that the home fans were banned for fear of crowd trouble.
The only bright spot on the night was Motherwells valiant effort in defeat and despite going 3-1 down on aggregate thanks to Peter Utaka’s 28th minute goal, they continued to drive forward and battered the Odense goal. However it was not to be their night and even when playing against 10 men Odense somehow kept them at bay. A missed penalty summed up Motherwells night and the expectant crowd of 9,105 were left wondering what might have been had Well been a bit sharper in front to goal. Odense finished the game with 9 men as Espen Ruud was sent off when conceding the penalty.
This leaves Glasgow Rangers as Scotlands only European representative and given they are in a tough group its hard to see Scotland improving their European coeficient this year. There is a real possibility that they could lose their second Champions League place soon if this dismal run continues.