THE Atletico team that booted Celtic off the park in ’74 took a bow before kick.
Then the current lot inflicted another defeat just as painful.
Brendan Rodgers’ side were left bruised, battered and beaten in an agonisingly sore Champions League result.
Daizen Maeda’s first-half red card had the Hoops boss fuming.
But from that moment on the Northern Irishman could only stand back and watch Diego Simeone’s La Liga outfit got their Euro campaign back on track.
Antoine Griezmann and Alvaro Morata both scored twice with Samuel Lino and Saul Niguez getting in on the act.
It was to be Celtic’s most stinging Champions League defeat since they lost 7-1 to PSG in November 2017.
Rodgers had high hopes of pulling off a shock result here too, urging his men to believe before kick-off.
But all hoped faded the moment Maeda was sent off after 23 minutes.
Celtic were already 1-0 behind by the time he was trudging off the pitch and up the tunnel.
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And the galling thing was that it was a goal Atletico didn’t need to work for.
With only six minutes on the scoreboard clock, it was a time for calm heads and composure.
Everything Rodgers talked about in the build-up.
But Joe Hart came swinging for a corner he should have just plucked from the air.
The ex-England No1 ended up keeping the scoreline respectable with a number of top saves.
But at that moment, his mistimed punch only went as far as danger man Riquelme, who delivered a ball straight back into the box.
Callum McGregor then didn’t get enough on his headed clearance.
And before he knew it, fantastic Frenchman Griezmann was firing a shot into the net from the edge of their box.
There was even a slight deflection off Cameron Carter-Vickers to help it on its way.
A quality team as good as Atletico don’t need that kind of encouragement.
Celtic had looked decent going forward too.
There were no signs of any inferiority complex in the minutes before the goal.
And the response to going behind from Scotland’s champions was positive too.
Maeda looked like he had the beating of full-back Hermoso in a one-v-one situation.
After 15 minutes there was even a VAR check to decide if the Celtic winger was entitled to a penalty after a tangle between the pair inside the Atletico box.
It was another incident which didn’t go Celtic’s way.
Soon, though, came the real moment of controversy when the two players came face to face again.
Maeda was running away from the Atletico goal, chasing a loose ball, when he dangled a leg in front of Hermoso as the two came together.
There was clearly no intent from the Japan forward to hurt the defender.
But in this day and age it’s the type of challenge that’s asking for trouble.
The Slovakian ref, Ivan Kruzliak, initially decided it was only worthy of a yellow card.
But when the Atletico bench saw a re-run of the flashpoint they erupted.
There’s no doubt it heaped pressure on the official when he was then instructed to take a look on the monitor.
That’s why Rodgers lost his cool.
He stepped out of his technical area, furiously pointing his finger at Simeone for attempting to influence the referee.
But by then Maeda’s face was already decided.
The outcome was a forgone conclusion as soon as VAR stepped in and urged the ref to take another look.
There was no way back for Celtic after that.
Rodgers kept two players up top – Luis Palma and Kyogo on his 100th Celtic appearance – in the hope of catching Atleti on the break.
There was one moment when Alvaro Morata sliced a clearance inside his own box, forcing keeper Jan Oblak to make a reaction save to prevent an OG.
But Rodgers’ side were right up against it.
Going 2-0 down just seconds before the half-time whistle made it mission impossible.
This time Griezmann turned provider with a cross into the box which was headed back into the mix by Jose Maria Giminez.
It was left for Morata to finish the move like he did when the teams met at Celtic Park.
The second half became backs to the wall stuff for Scotland’s champions.
They knew their fate was already sealed and it was just a case of how sore the defeat they’d be made to suffer.
Hart made a series of cracking stops.
But Atletico’s third goal was on its way and it arrived on the hour mark.
Alistair Johnston got no luck whatsoever when a cross from substitute Marcos Llorente struck him and fell perfectly for Griezmann.
He then rifled a volley past Hart who was beaten all hands up.
It was now damage limitation for Celtic but Atletico were in no mood to take it easy, even after Griezmann and Riquelme was taken off.
Within seconds of going on, sub Lino curled an unstoppable shot past Hart.
There was still 20 minutes left to play but by now many of the Celtic support had seen enough.
But still the home side wanted more.
In 76 minutes Morata smashed home his second of the night with another shot Hart couldn’t get near.
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It still wasn’t over with Saul finishing inside the six yard box to make it a 6-0 defeat to leave Celtic’s Euro hopes hanging by a thread.
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