Manchester City failed to impress in their final Champions League group match as they were held to a 1-1 draw by Celtic at the Etihad stadium.
Pep Guardiola made a host of changes to his side as Pablo Maffeo and Tosin Adarabioyo made their first Champions League starts, in what looked an under-strength City lineup.
With little to play for having already qualified in second place behind Barcelona, the hosts made a sloppy start to the match and, just as they did in the reverse fixture earlier this season, fell behind early on.
Roberts – ironically on loan from City – was somehow allowed to cut in from the right hand side and having skipped past several defenders, the midfielder smashed an angled shot past Willy Cabellero to give Brendan Rodgers’ side a shock lead.
Sadly for the Bhoys, their early advantage only lasted five minutes, as Kelechi Iheanacho raced onto Nolito’s through ball and lashed a shot past Craig Gordon to restore parity.
Despite seeing their lead wiped out so quickly, the visitors looked the more likely to score next for much of the first-half, as Moussa Demeble squandered several clear-cut opportunities.
18. Chance for Celtic as Dembélé is put through but @willy_caballero stops well and then the Frenchman can only hit the side netting. (1-1)
— Manchester City (@ManCity) December 6, 2016
The host’s makeshift back four were struggling to deal with the lively striker and were indebted to their goalkeeper, who was called into action at numerous points during the opening 45 minutes.
Gael Clichy was also lucky not to concede a penalty when he appeared to haul Roberts down inside the area, but the referee rejected the visitor’s vociferous appeals despite there being clear contact between the players.
Although they were struggling for fluency, City had their moments on the break and Gordon had to be alert to palm away Iheanacho’s clever flick, in what was the home side’s best chance before the interval.
The second-half started in a much calmer fashion compared to the first, and in truth, had the air of a match with little meaning.
Celtic continued to look the more comfortable in possession but were unable to create any real chances of note. A couple of wayward long range attempts were the best the away side could muster before both managers started to turn to their respective benches.
It had appeared that one of City’s substitutes – Jesus Navas – had assisted a goal for Nolito, however the celebrations in the stands were cut short when the Spaniard’s close range strike was correctly ruled out for offside.
With the match entering the final stages, the Celtic saw a glorious chance pass them by when substitute Leigh Griffiths stroked the ball wide, despite finding both time and space inside the City penalty area.
At the other end, Leroy Mane curled a close range free kick inches wide, as Guardiola’s men were unable to mount a late charge and the match rather petered out with both sides seemingly happy to settle for the 1-1 scoreline.
The point means that City end the group stages on nine points, six behind 1st placed Barcelona, who won the other group C fixture 4-0 against German outfit Borussia M