Celtic put on a brave performance as they lost 2-0 to Inter Milan in the International Champions Cup on Saturday.
In Frank de Boer’s first match as Inter manager, Eder Citadin gave the Nerazzurri the lead on the stroke of half-time at Thomond Park in Limerick with a close-range header at the back post following an acrobatic near-post flick by the impressive Ivan Perisic.
New signing Antonio Candreva doubled the Italians’ lead with a sublime chip in the 71st minute.
The Scottish champions matched their Serie A opponents for vast swathes of the match but had goalkeeper Leo Fasan to thank for keeping the score down in their third and final match of the pre-season tournament.
With one eye on Wednesday’s Champions League play-off against Israel’s Hapoel Be’er Sheva, Brendan Rodgers gave a handful of development squad players a taste of first-team football while Belgium defender Dedryck Boyata made his return from an injury that saw him ruled out of Euro 2016.
The Italians made a bright start and could have gone ahead in the third minute when Ivan Perisic drifted toward the Celtic penalty box from the left and slid a square pass into the path of Ever Banega.
Fasan was already diving to his right when the Argentine pulled the trigger but he was able to get a strong enough hand on his effort to tip the ball over the crossbar.
Rodgers’ side gradually worked their way into the contest through Emilio Izaguirre, whose clip over the Inter defence to Boyata was inch perfect. Sadly for the Bhoys, the linesman’s flag went up.
The Scottish champions’ best chance of the opening 45 minutes came when Ryan Christie broke through the Inter midfield towards goal, only for Samir Handanovic to get down low to his left to keep his effort out.
Stefan Johansen was well positioned on the back post to smash clear Ranocchia Andrea’s near-post flick from Banega’s inswinging corner.
Inter broke the deadlock in first-half injury time when Eder nodded in at the back post from a corner. Fasan did well to deflect a fierce Perisic shot wide, but the Croatian stooped magnificently from the resulting set-piece to flick the ball behind him to Eder.
Former Manchester City striker Stevan Jovetic was introduced at half-time for the Italians but it was Celtic who almost struck back when Efe Ambrose headed inches wide of the Inter goal from a deep Liam Henderson corner.
Nadir Ciftci had the Thomond Park crowd on its feet with an audacious long-range volley shortly before the hour mark. The former Portsmouth striker unleashed a stunning left-footed volley that rattled the Inter crossbar after Ryan Christie combined with Stuart Armstrong to set him up.
Just when Celtic were threatening to equalise, new signing Candreva doubled the Italians’ lead with a glorious chip over Fasan from the edge of the area after he appeared to take the ball too far wide.
There was still time for a penalty appeal from Jake Aitchison, who thought he had been fouled in the Inter penalty area, and Christie danced his way through four tackles in the Italians’ penalty box before firing straight at Handanovic.