Get Celtic updates directly to your inboxSubscribeSee our privacy noticeThank you for subscribing!Celtic will now have to settle for Europa League football after falling to a 2 1 defeat to AEK Athens in the third qualifying round for the Champions League .Goals early in both halves from Rodrigo Galo and then Marko Livaja proved enough for the Greeks as they claimed a 3 2 aggregate triumph, even though substitute Scott Sinclair made it nervy for the hosts with his goal 12 minutes from time.It was too little too late for Celtic who were undone by two bits of sloppy defending in what was otherwise not a terrible performance.Brendan Rodgers will take solace from the fact his side fought right until the end but a lack of defensive nous has cost his team the chance of making it to the Champions League for a third consecutive season.5 talking points Rodgers’ Ed acheThe absence of Odsonne Edouard left a massive hole to fill. The French frontman didn’t train last night after picking up a knock against Hearts and wasn’t fit enough to feature this evening.On the European stage going into this one, Edouard had been leading the way with three goals in the Champions League qualification campaign so far, including a double at home to Rosenborg.So for the big man to miss out on the most crucial game of the lot was a cruel blow and it was left to Leigh Griffiths to plow the lone furrow, with Moussa Dembele coming off the bench to join him after Celtic went two down.(Image: SNS)Griffiths looked hungry and occasionally showed good movement but lacked the powerful presence of Edouard against a combative AEK backline.He had a great chance just after the half hour when Callum McGregor burst down the left and found him with laser like precision but the Scotland striker guided his effort just the wrong side of the far post.It proved to be a key moment as Celtic failed to create a better chance, Sinclair’s goal aside,in the remainder of the game as they bowed out.Early blowThe one thing Rodgers wouldn’t have been wanting was to concede an early goal, but of course that’s exactly what Celtic did.Other than Mikael Lustig, the elder statesman of the defence was Jozo Simunovic, who was also badly exposed for the first goal, at 24. That does not bode well for success in a hostile environment in continental football.And again!You would think after conceding an early goal in the first half, Celtic would make sure they kept it tight in the second period.
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