Outgunned Celtic were handed a Champions League lesson in finishing by RB Leipzig as Joe Hart paid the price for his ultimate goalkeeping howler.
The Englishman's disastrous distribution teed Leipzig up to take the lead en route to a 3-1 victory over their Group F opponents. The Germans also had two goals ruled out by VAR. But Christopher Nkunku's strike before a brace from Portugal international Andre Silva cancelled out Jota's leveller.
Ange Postecoglou cut a frustrated figure on a night his side were wasteful in front of goal and slapstick in closing stages. But he knows there's an opportunity for a quick fix when the sides meet next Tuesday. Celtic now prop up the group and trail both Leipzig and Shakhtar by two points. Angeball is never a dull affair and it was abundantly clear from the off that a breathless encounter lay in store. Within 90 seconds, Timo Werner's slaloming run caused panic in the visitors' box but Joe Hart was left delighted as Nkunku's deft flick only resulted in a tame Andre Silva effort which landed in Joe Hart's arms.
But if RB Leipzig 's early roar was a cue to force Celtic intro retreat then the message was not received by the Premiership champions. Matt O'Riley's effort on the pivot was blocked before Reo Hatate was left cursing his luck as his effort into an empty net was miscued. The audible gasp which followed from within the RB Arena had little to do with the midfielder's misfire, it was in response to goalkeeper Petr Gulacsi being left in a crumpled heap. The Hungary international was left unable to continue amid fears of a serious knee injury.
The action never skipped a beat and Nkunku was convinced he had opened the scoring after his pitching wedge chip over Joe Hart hit the net. However, Chelsea's No.9 in waiting was left wanting as the new semi-automatic offside feature ruled against the France international.
Buoyed by the let off, Celtic fired back and Kyogo watched a golden chance deflect wide - moments after Gulasci's replacement Janis Blaswich expertly turned the striker's clever header wide of the post after a teasing cross from Daizen Maeda. Postecoglou was left cursing his luck on the touchline and his angst was increased after McGregor was robbed in possession, it sparked the counter-attack which resulted in the electric Nkunku rounding Hart and deftly tucking home from a tight angle.
There was more woe for the Celtic skipper as he hobbled off after admitting defeat in his painful battle with a muscle injury. Oliver Abildgaard replaced him in a match which was resembling a medical waiting room with Josip Juranovic and Andre Silva seeking attention after Gulasci and McGregor's exits. Silva's knock came after Moritz Jenz landed heavy on his leg - an incident which was not picked up on by VAR.
Celtic were desperately seeking a clinical edge and they found it after the break as Hatate's superior vision released Kyogo and he deftly slotted in Jota to draw level. Postecoglou punched the air in delight as his troops turned possum to give Leipzig a dose of their own medicine with the perfect counter attack.
But Marco Rose's side were back for more and the manager was left unable to comprehend how Szoboszlai was unable to finish a stunning move which cut Celtic to ribbons. The same man thought he had fired his side ahead but VAR once again was called upon and ruled against Leipzig. Referee Espen Eskas, under assistance from Var, reckoned Silva was in Hart's eyeline as the Hungarian rifled home from the edge of the box.
If Hart was counting his blessing he certainly wasn't showing it as his awful pass in the general direction of Greg Taylor was seized upon Szoboszlai before a grateful Silva tucked home with ease. Celtic appeared increasingly stretched and were torn apart when the mercurial Nkunku spotted Mohamed Simakan racing down the right and he teed up Silva who coolly controlled before firing past Hart.
Celtic huffed and puffed but were never able to respond to the Leipzig storm which engulfed them after the equaliser. Here's the 5 talking points from Leipzig.
Warnings not heeded
Celtic's attacking verve and swagger deserves kudos but the marginal calls that were called in their favour offer a stark warning of the dangers Europe's best possess. The same ambitious style of play which unlocks the opposition leaves the defence brutally exposed. Parkhead punters will unlikely grumble, of course, but there's likely a happy medium that's yet to be struck after three action-packed matchdays upon their Champions League return.
Celts with a difference
Supporters of a certain vintage have witnessed every kind of away day to forget in the Champions League; from gallant defeats to watershed trouncings - the Hoops faithful have experienced plenty, however, creating a shedload of chances against a leading Bundesliga light hasn't been the norm. Of course, winning is the only currency accepted at European football's top table, however, there's clear evidence Postecoglou's bold and ambitious style of play can reap rewards. Now it's time for the his leading marksmen to find their killer touch.
Nkunku makes it count
He appears destined for Stamford Bridge next season and Chelsea owner Todd Boehly will be buzzing after watching the forward star against Celtic. Nkunku's calling card is his incredible versatility as he seamlessly switches from dangerous playmaker to predatory finisher. He only teased his undoubted potential against Rangers in the Europa League last season but his full array of skills were on show. He will have to be contained at Celtic Park next week, a bonafide star who appears destined for a glittering future. He was involved in everything good about the hosts.
Celtic's free-flowing football often has supporters debating who is the club's standout performer and Hatate is make a compelling case he's best in class. The midfielder is at his best in Europe and his stunning pass which sparked the leveller is the latest evidence of a player who offers an X-factor when it matters most. But every Celtic star must now match Hatate's knack of sparking game-changing moments in the biggest moments of matches.
Mac the strife
The Celtic skipper has earned acclaim for his marathon man efforts for club and country but it would remiss to brush over mistakes in consecutive games which resulted in vital goals for Shakhtar and Leipzig. However, the aberrations are merely a footnote on the bigger story of his looming absence after he was forced off in the first half. McGregor is vital to the way Celtic tick under the Australian and a long-term absence will have serious ramifications for a side without starting central defenders Carl Starfelt and Cameron Carter-Vickers.