Javi Martinez’s brave header secured a 2-1 defeat for Celtic and ended the Scottish champions’ hopes of reaching the Champions league knockout stage.
Bayern Munich took the lead at Celtic Park in the first half when Kingsley Coman pounced to score.
The home side played valiantly, and were rewarded by Callum McGregor’s equaliser after the break.
The scoreline was only level for four minutes, with Martinez suffering a head knock as he converted the winning goal.
After Paris St-Germain defeated Anderlecht 5-0 in the other Group B game, Celtic cannot finish in the top two positions, although they have an advantage over the Belgian side in the race for third and participation in the Europa League knockout stages.
Bayern were shorn of some of their go-to men of their defeat of Celtic a fortnight ago in Munich, Robert Lewandowski, their goal-scorer in chief, and Thomas Muller, their magnificent schemer, both succumbing to injuries.
On top of that, Bayern’s manager Juup Heynckes, with an eye to the Bundesliga meeting with Borussia Dortmund at the weekend, started Mats Hummels, Thiago Alcantara and the hugely influential Joshua Kimmich on the bench.
That said, they were hardly threadbare. Kingsley Coman, James Rodriguez and Arjen Robben were the front three. Martinez, a Heynckes colossus, also came back into the team.
Celtic had not won a home group game in Europe in three years coming into this, a stretch of six losses and three draws – a run that does nothing to add to the legend of Celtic Park as a European fortress. There was pressure on them not necessarily to win, but to perform, to take Bayern to the wire and make a proper game of it.
From early on you sensed that they had it within them to do it. Their passing was crisp, the intensity high and their threat genuine. Bayern, by contrast, were way below their natural level.
Brendan Rodgers went with a 3-4-2-1 that became 5-4-1 when it needed to. James Forrest and McGregor were whirling dervishes in attack and defence. They buzzed about, breaking stuff up and then roaring forward on the attack. The pair of them were outstanding.
Up front on his own, Moussa Dembele had a real presence. Rodgers’ team should have been ahead as early as the third minute, a lusty intervention from the Kieran Tierney turning defence into attack. Forrest took it up from there, waiting patiently before dinking a cross to the back post where Stuart Armstrong looked sure to score. He couldn’t. A huge moment.
Celtic continued to take the game to Bayern, Forrest, McGregor and Dembele all causing problems to the hosts. The home crowd revelled in it, too. If they got the feeling that something special was going to happen then you could have forgiven them.
There was no warning of the cataclysm to come, no gathering dread of Bayern mobilising their big guns, no shots peppering Craig Gordon’s goal, no clever movement cutting Celtic open. The goal that unlocked the game came from an agricultural punt downfield from Bayern’s goalkeeper, Sven Ulreich, a clearance that should have been dealt with comfortably by Dedryck Boyata but, fatefully, was not.
Instead of moving to clear it, Boyata let the ball drift over his head. That sent the Celtic defence into a panic because Coman was on to it in the blink of an eye and then around the stranded Gordon. The goalkeeper screamed that the Frenchman handled the ball, but play went on – and so did Coman. He threaded his shot between retreating defenders to give Bayern a lead they scarcely deserved.
The response was impressive. Armstrong and Dembele worked a great opening and only a fine tackle by David Alaba stopped the Frenchman from levelling. Next, after terrific work by Forrest in setting up Armstrong, it was Ulreich who denied Celtic.
The breakthrough did come, though. And it was greeted riotously. It was hardly a surprise that it was Forrest who created it and McGregor who finished it, drilling his shot between Ulreich’s legs to send the home support into an advanced state of delirium. Their collective heart-rate had barely returned to normal when Bayern went ahead again, however.
Again, it was desperately soft. Alaba curled in a cross from the left and Javi Martinez rose above Bitton to head past Gordon. Simple. Far too simple.
For all the improvements in their performance and all the electricity inside the stadium, it still amounted to defeat. This was a whole lot better from Rodgers’ players, but it wasn’t enough to keep themselves in the hunt for the last 16. That ship has sailed. For them, it’s all about nailing down that Europa League place now.