Soccer

Callum McGregor determined to help Celtic end Champions League campaign on high

Callum McGregor feels Celtic deserve more than a point to show for their Champions League efforts this term (Alessandra Tarantino/AP)
Callum McGregor feels Celtic deserve more than a point to show for their Champions League efforts this term (Alessandra Tarantino/AP) Callum McGregor feels Celtic deserve more than a point to show for their Champions League efforts this term (Alessandra Tarantino/AP)

Captain Callum McGregor believes victory over Feyenoord in their final Champions League game would be no more than Celtic deserved in a doomed campaign.

Lazio’s 2-0 triumph over the Hoops in Rome on Tuesday night confirmed last place in Group E for Brendan Rodgers’ side, who will not have European football of any kind in the second half of the season.

Substitute Ciro Immobile’s two late goals kept Celtic on one point from five fixtures before they host Feyenoord next month and McGregor believes it is vital that the Scottish champions, who will finish bottom in their Champions League group for the second straight year, finish on a high.

The Scotland midfielder told Celtic’s YouTube channel: “It’s massively important. If nothing else, we feel like we deserve it.

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“We feel like we’ve played well enough to certainly have more than one point. So, if we get the result then it’s probably been deserved over the piece.

“Obviously we want to finish strong, we are at home, we want to get the crowd behind us and try to get them a little bit of hope for maybe next season’s competition as well.

“So there’s definitely a lot to play for, and when you put on a Celtic jersey you’re always playing for everything. So we will certainly be going into that last game trying to win and do everyone proud.”

APTOPIX Italy Soccer Champions League
APTOPIX Italy Soccer Champions League Substitute Ciro Immobile celebrates after scoring Lazio’s opener against Celtic (Alessandra Tarantino/AP)

Celtic gave as good as they got for most of the match until the classy Immobile struck in the 82nd and 85th minutes to keep the three points in the Italian capital.

The Hoops were awarded a penalty by referee Halil Umut Meler in added time for a push on substitute Oh Hyeon-gyu but it was rescinded when the VAR intervened and sent the Turkish official to the pitchside monitor for another look.

For McGregor, he has seen it all before.

He said: “We are gutted. A little bit of the same old story – play well, don’t take chances and then you get hit with a sucker-punch and the second one kills the game.

“It is tough to take because I think everyone can see that we are well in the game, controlling the tempo and the flow of the game. And to be honest, at some point, we have to try and win so you open up a little bit and you get done with good quality.

Italy Soccer Champions League
Italy Soccer Champions League Brendan Rodgers’ side will have no European football in the second half of the season (Alessandra Tarantino/AP)

“I have been saying this all through the competition – you’re playing against top players. They bring on a top player and he scores two goals – two really good striker’s goals.

“We do really well for 60-65 minutes and, when the game maybe opens up or the game gets a little bit difficult, we then need to get to grips with the game and regain control and, again, that comes with experience.

“I think that’s been the difference. When teams have had the moments in games, they have scored.

“We have started really well in quite a lot of the games. Obviously when we go away in the first two games, we go down to nine men (at Feyenoord) and 10 men (at Atletico Madrid), which makes it almost impossible at this level. So there was another learning curve.”