Having bowed out of the Champions League in December, Celtic have suffered the same fate in the Europa League.
Brendan Rodgers’ side knew they would be up against it in Saint Petersburg on Thurday night given the pedigree of the opposition, but a 1-0 victory over the Russian side in the first leg at Parkhead did at least give the reigning Scottish champions that they had enough in them to see out the tie and progress to the last sixteen.
That sense of optimism, however, would last all of seven minutes, as former Chelsea defender Branislav Ivanovic rose to head home past Celtic keeper Dorus De Vries to put Zenit ahead on the night, 1-1 on aggregate.
The tie was then completely turned on its head just before the half-hour mark, Daler Kuzyaev’s strike from outside the area somehow swerving through the hands of De Vries and into the net.
Celtic huffed but struggled to turn their possession into shots, though the half-time introduction of Tom Rogic did at least help in this regard.
The tie was effectively sealed on the hour mark, however, as Ivanovic’s low cross across the Celtic box found Aleksandr Kokorin at the back post to fire home to make it 3-0 to Roberto Mancini’s men.
Rodgers threw Scott Sinclair and Charly Musonda in a bid to turn the tide back in his side’s favour, but it was to no avail.
Celtic bow out of the Europa League at the first knockout hurdle, and while the former Liverpool boss will console himself with the prospect of another domestic treble, his side have once again fallen short of making a significant impact on the continent.
— Celtic Football Club (@CelticFC) February 22, 2018
F/T – Zenit 3-0 Celtic. Goals from Ivanovic, Kuzyaev and Kokorin send us through to the last 16 of the @EuropaLeague and the Scots crashing out 3-1 on aggregate. #ZENCEL #UEL pic.twitter.com/yhQl6fAZRa
— FC Zenit in English (@fczenit_en) February 22, 2018
3-0 – This was Celtic’s heaviest defeat in the Europa League/UEFA Cup since October 1991, when they lost 5-1 away at Neuchâtel Xamax in the last 32. Dumped. pic.twitter.com/oqxhqaAISl
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) February 22, 2018
In this week’s episode of the Mixer Irish football podcast, we look back at last week’s season-opening Dublin derby and debate Graham Cummins’ controversial red card as we review and preview all of the latest League of Ireland action.