Europa League - Group G
Real BetisReal Betis4CelticCeltic3

Real Betis 4-3 Celtic: Makeshift visitors succumb to defeat

By Martin WattBBC Scotland
Anthony Ralston pulled a goal back for Celtic late on
Anthony Ralston pulled a goal back for Celtic late on but it was not to be enough

Makeshift Celtic let a two-goal lead slip as they fell to defeat against Real Betis in a Europa League thriller.

The visitors - back in Seville 18 years on from Uefa Cup final defeat - roared ahead with an Albian Ajeti finish and Josip Juranovic penalty, with Jota missing a golden chance for a third.

It proved pivotal as Juanmi's double helped Betis turn the tie with a four-goal blitz in 21 minutes.

Anthony Ralston netted a late header but Celtic could not find a leveller.

Juan Miranda and Bruno Iglesias contributed Betis' other goals as defeat in the opening game leaves Celtic third in Group G after Bayer Leverkusen fought back to beat Ferencvaros 2-1 in Germany.

While Celtic took an 80,000-strong travelling support to Seville in 2003, they had to go it alone in the Estadio Benito Villamarin with away fans not permitted.

Celtic have never won in Spain - a 59-year stretch that stood at 19 games - and their prospects were hampered by a lengthy absentee list headed by captain Callum McGregor and Japanese striker Kyogo Furuhashi.

Yet Ange Postecolgou's men silenced the locals with a terrific start underlined by two excellent counter-attacking goals, before Betis preyed on familiar defensive vulnerabilities in a compelling contest.

Jota almost scampered on to a defence-splitting pass in the opening minutes before teeing up the opener with a cross to Ajeti after a flowing move involving Tom Rogic and David Turnbull.

The ball went in off Ajeti's chest and, after initially being disallowed for handball, the decision was correctly overturned following a lengthy VAR check.

Joe Hart preserved the lead, leaping to his right to palm away an Andres Guardado header before thwarting the lively Nabil Fekir at the near post.

But Celtic pounced with another piercing counter involving Rogic and Turnbull, whose pass sent Ajeti darting into the box. Former Manchester City goalkeeper Claudio Bravo led with his legs in attempting to save, taking out the striker, and Juranovic's thumping penalty compounded the goalkeeper's mistake.

Celtic were in dreamland - and should have stretched their lead to 3-0 before the half-hour mark but Jota's dinked finish was clawed away by Bravo.

Betis capitalised on the let-off by wiping out Celtic's lead with two goals in two minutes. Miranda - having rattled the base of the post moments earlier - linked neatly with Fekir to stab a shot past Hart.

Cameron Carter-Vickers was then caught out trying to play Iglesias offside as the striker latched on to Joaquin's through ball and squared for Juanmi to tap into the empty net.

The turnaround was complete early in the second half as Betis again struck twice in quick succession, with Sergio Canales given far too much space on the left flank to pick out a cross that Iglesias flicked past Hart into the bottom corner.

Juanmi netted his second when he took down Turnbull's clearing header and redirected it in off the post with a precise half-volley.

It looked a damage limitation job for the visitors, but they regained momentum to put Manuel Pellegrini's side on edge.

Ajeti had a header ruled out for offside, and Rogic smacked a shot off the post before Ralston powered home a header from Turnbull's delivery as Celtic went down fighting in another painful defeat in Seville.

Man of the match - David Turnbull

The midfielder was an impressive creative spark and involved in all three Celtic goals
The midfielder was an impressive creative spark and involved in all three Celtic goals

What did we learn?

Postecoglou's tenure is still in its infancy but his side's European endeavours already have a common theme, with enterprising attacking play undermined by defensive vulnerabilities.

Having built a commanding and deserved lead, Celtic crumbled with alarming ease.

However, in mitigation, the Scottish side were missing so many key players that they can take positives from running Betis - the sixth-best side in Spain last season - so close.

What's next?

Celtic bid to pick themselves up away to Livingston in the Scottish Premiership on Sunday (15:00 BST) before hosting Raith Rovers in the League Cup quarter-finals next Thursday (19:45).

What the stats say

  • Real Betis are unbeaten in all seven of their home Europa League group stage games (W4 D3). There were as many goals in this match as there were in their previous six such matches in the competition (F6 A1).
  • Celtic remain winless in all 19 of their away games against Spanish opposition in European competition (D3 L16). However, this was the first time they've scored more than once in such a game since their first visit in September 1962 (2-4 vs Valencia).
  • Just 156 seconds separated Real Betis' two first half goals, and just 142 seconds separated their two second half goals in this match.
  • Albian Ajeti's opener for Celtic was his first in a major European competition, in what was his 11th appearance in either the Champions League (3) or Europa League (8).
  • Real Betis captain Joaquin (40y 57d) became the oldest outfield player to start a Europa League game since Francesco Totti for Roma against Villarreal in February 2017 (40y 149d).


Real Betis

Formation 4-2-3-1

  • 25Bravo
  • 2Montoya
  • 3González
  • 6Ruiz
  • 33MirandaSubstituted forMoreno Loperaat 69'minutesBooked at 90mins
  • 10CanalesSubstituted forGonzálezat 82'minutes
  • 18GuardadoBooked at 20minsSubstituted forWilliam Carvalhoat 69'minutes
  • 17Sánchez RodríguezSubstituted forRuibalat 54'minutesBooked at 62mins
  • 8FekirBooked at 32minsSubstituted forRodríguezat 68'minutes
  • 7Juanmi
  • 9Iglesias


  • 4Akouokou
  • 11Tello
  • 12Da Silva
  • 13Dantas da Silva
  • 14William Carvalho
  • 15Moreno Lopera
  • 16Pezzella
  • 19Bellerín
  • 21Rodríguez
  • 24Ruibal
  • 27González
  • 28Sánchez


Formation 4-3-3

  • 15Hart
  • 56Ralston
  • 20Carter-VickersBooked at 39mins
  • 4Starfelt
  • 88Juranovic
  • 18Rogic
  • 12SoroBooked at 8minsSubstituted forMcCarthyat 56'minutes
  • 14Turnbull
  • 17Neves Filipe
  • 10Ajeti
  • 54Montgomery


  • 1Barkas
  • 5Scales
  • 16McCarthy
  • 26Urhoghide
  • 29Bain
  • 30Shaw
  • 47Murray
  • 52Henderson
  • 57Welsh
Fran Jovic

Match Stats

Home TeamReal BetisAway TeamCeltic
Shots on Target

Live Text

  1. Post update

    Match ends, Real Betis 4, Celtic 3.

  2. Full Time

    Second Half ends, Real Betis 4, Celtic 3.

  3. Post update

    Foul by Albian Ajeti (Celtic).

  4. Post update

    Víctor Ruiz (Real Betis) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  5. Booking

    Álex Moreno (Real Betis) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

  6. Post update

    Jota (Celtic) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  7. Post update

    Foul by Álex Moreno (Real Betis).

  8. Post update

    Foul by James McCarthy (Celtic).

  9. Post update

    Rober (Real Betis) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  10. Post update

    Corner, Celtic. Conceded by Rober.

  11. Goal!

    Goal! Real Betis 4, Celtic 3. Anthony Ralston (Celtic) header from very close range to the centre of the goal. Assisted by David Turnbull with a cross following a set piece situation.

  12. Post update

    David Turnbull (Celtic) wins a free kick on the left wing.

  13. Post update

    Foul by Martín Montoya (Real Betis).

  14. Post update

    Attempt saved. Albian Ajeti (Celtic) right footed shot from a difficult angle on the right is saved in the bottom left corner. Assisted by Jota.

  15. Post update

    Attempt saved. David Turnbull (Celtic) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the centre of the goal. Assisted by Albian Ajeti.

  16. Substitution

    Substitution, Real Betis. Rober replaces Sergio Canales.

  17. Post update

    Attempt missed. Borja Iglesias (Real Betis) right footed shot from a difficult angle on the right is close, but misses to the left. Assisted by Aitor Ruibal.

  18. Post update

    Foul by Anthony Ralston (Celtic).

  19. Post update

    Juanmi (Real Betis) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  20. Post update

    Foul by Anthony Ralston (Celtic).

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Scores, Results & Fixtures

Thursday 16th September 2021

As It Stood


2Brøndby IF10100001
3Sparta Prague10100001


2Real Sociedad10102201
3PSV Eindhoven10102201
4SK Sturm Graz100101-10


1Legia Warsaw11001013
4Spartak Moscow100101-10


4Royal Antwerp100112-10


3Lokomotiv Moscow10101101


1Red Star Belgrade11002113
3FC Midtjylland10101101
4Sporting Braga100112-10


1Real Betis11004313
2B Leverkusen11002113
4Ferencvárosi TC100112-10


1West Ham11002023
2KRC Genk11001013
3Rapid Vienna100101-10
4Dinamo Zagreb100102-20
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