Fifty four long years have elapsed since Celtic stunned continental aristocrats Inter Milan to become the first British team in history to win the European Cup.
But the Glaswegians will have to dig deep even to reach the Champions League group phase this season after they could only manage a 1-1 stalemate against Denmark’s Midtjylland in Tuesday’s second qualifying round first leg.
If Jock Stein’s 1967 vintage earned the sobriquet the Lisbon Lions after their stunning triumph new Celts’ coach Ange Postecoglou can for now only dream of reaching such giddy heights after starting his tenure with a frustrating draw.
The Australian former J-League title winner with Yokohama F Marinos saw both sides end a grittily competitive encounter with 10 men after teenage Israeli winger Liel Abada scored a first-half debut goal before a 9,000 crowd at Parkhead.
However, Celtic went a man down before the break when defender Nir Bitton picked up a second booking.
The Danes’ winger Anders Dreyer was red-carded for a dive after the restart before Evander equalised after 66 minutes with a free kick to leave matters nicely poised for the second leg in Denmark, where under a new Uefa rule away goals will no longer count double.
The winners will face either PSV Eindhoven or Galatasaray, who face off on Wednesday.
“It’s a frustrating result,” said former Socceroos coach Postecoglou. “In terms of performance though, I am more than happy with the players,” he said in saluting “a tremendous effort.”
Elsewhere, Rapid Vienna edged out Sparta Prague as they battle for the right to face Monaco in the third qualifying round.
Croatia’s Dinamo Zagreb scored a 2-0 home success over Cyprus’ Omonia Nicosia while rank outsiders Lincoln of Gibraltar succumbed to a 2-1 home loss against Romania’s Cluj.
Other Tuesday action saw Moldova’s Sheriff Tiraspol win 1-0 at Armenia’s Alashkert and Hungary’s Ferencvaros see off Lithiania’s Zalgiris Vilnius 2-0.
- Celtic 1 (SCO) FC Midtjylland (DEN) 1
- Alashkert FC (ARM) 0 Sheriff (MDA) 1
- Lincoln Red Imps (GIB) 1 CFR Cluj (ROM) 2
- Dinamo Zagreb (CRO) 2 Omonia Nicosia (CYP) 0
- Ferencvaros (HUN) 2 Zalgiris Vilnius (LIT) 0
- Rapid Vienna 2 (AUT) Sparta Prague (CZE) 1