Celtic suffered more Champions League pain at Parkhead as Lazio scored a stoppage-time winner soon after the home side were denied a goal following a lengthy VAR check.
With the score at 1-1, substitute Luis Palma fired home in the 81st minute after Daizen Maeda had attempted an overhead kick from Alistair Johnston’s cross, and the VAR officials decided he was offside.
There was a bigger blow to come when former Barcelona and Chelsea forward Pedro headed home from fellow substitute Matteo Guendouzi’s cross five minutes into stoppage-time to secure the Italian club a 2-1 win in Group E.
Celtic had taken an early lead through Kyogo Furuhashi but Matias Vecino levelled following a 29th-minute corner.
Brendan Rodgers’ side looked the likelier team to find a winner but their 10-year wait for a home victory in the Champions League group stage continues and the ninth defeat in that 11-game run would be the most difficult one to take after a largely encouraging performance.
The tie was a resumption of hostilities from four seasons ago when Celtic triumphed home and away against Lazio in the Europa League, their victory in Rome sealed by Olivier Ntcham, who appeared on a massive pre-match banner among the home fans in the standing section.
Celtic settled quickly and Furuhashi netted his first goal in eight Champions League appearances 12 minutes in.
The Japanese striker’s finish went through the dive of goalkeeper Ivan Provedel after he was played through by a first-time pass from Matt O’Riley after positive play from Maeda.
The atmosphere went up a notch but Celtic did not build on their advantage. Despite having plenty of possession in the aftermath of the goal, most of it was inside their own half and the occasional slack pass put them in danger.
— Celtic Football Club (@CelticFC) October 4, 2023
They had a chance on the break when Yang Hyun-jun played Maeda in behind but the Japanese attacker mis-kicked his ambitious effort.
Lazio’s territorial advantage paid off when they won three headers in a row from Luis Alberto’s corner. Joe Hart appeared to have saved the third one from Vecino but the Lithuanian referee ruled the ball had spun behind the line before being clawed away.
Celtic got back on the front foot and O’Riley forced a good save from a first-time strike before getting back to make an important interception to foil a counter-attack.
The start of the second half was finely-balanced. Felipe Anderson failed to make the most of receiving the ball in yards of space inside the Celtic box before the home side came close from a free-kick. Provedel made a good stop from Reo Hatate’s low drive and Johnston fired over from the rebound.
Cameron Carter-Vickers made his comeback from a hamstring injury after a seven-week lay-off when he replaced Nat Phillips while Palma came on for Yang, who had enjoyed some good moments but generally failed to make the most of his possession.
Hart got down well to save Daichi Kamada’s 20-yard drive before Paulo Bernardo snatched at a half-chance at the other end moments after coming on.
Celtic continued to make the running. Palma was briefly bearing down on goal before Alessio Romagnoli slid in to win the ball, Liam Scales attempted an overhead kick which flew over and Furuhashi was denied from close range.
Palma thought he had scored what would have been one of the best-worked goals in the Champions League this week after a lengthy passing move that went from back to front and side to side.
The Honduran winger was booked for taking his shirt off in celebration before the VAR team delivered worse news, and a crushing blow would soon follow to leave Celtic bottom of their group without a point.