WELL, it’s never dull when Celtic come to Seville. A pulsating encounter in the sweltering heat of Andalusia may have brought back memories of their club’s last visit to this city back in 2003, but unfortunately for Celtic supporters, they were just as painful in the end.

Just like in the UEFA Cup Final 18 years ago, Celtic certainly had their moments, particularly in a breathless first half that showcased the many undoubted strengths of Ange Postecoglou’s style of play, as well as brutally exposing its weaknesses.

Celtic deservedly built a shock 2-0 lead through Albian Ajeti and a Josip Juranovic penalty, only to blow it by losing two goals in as many minutes. It was peak Angeball, with Celtic like lions in attack, but like kittens at the back. Celtic will stick to their principles under the Australian, and that is as commendable as it is wonderful to watch. But there may be a point when playing away from home in Europe that at least a touch of pragmatism may be considered.

Betis roared back to level through Juan Miranda and Juanmi, before Borja Iglesias and Juanmi again put Celtic two behind. They got a late goal back through Anthony Ralston, but a heroic effort ultimately wasn't enough.

It’s difficult to be too critical though given the circumstances. Postecoglou found himself in going into this massive test without captain Callum McGregor and a smattering of other starters. Celtic were down to the bare bones. Joe Hart was the man to assume the armband and lead the team out into the deafening cauldron of the Benito Villamarín Stadium.

Unfortunately for the Celtic fans who had booked flights before away tickets were withdrawn, there was no way in. A couple of hundred or so gathered outside in any case, and gave the team bus a huge welcome before retreating to the city’s bars to see the game.

They may have missed Celtic starting well, as they almost had Jota in on goal straight away after a clever dink from Tom Rogic, Claudio Bravo getting out in the nick of time to deny the winger. Ismaila Soro picked up his customary booking soon after, with a long, long way to go.

The hosts had started sluggishly, though Carl Starfelt came up with a huge block to deny Joaquin, before Celtic raced up the other end and cut Betis open on the counter.

Turnbull played a lovely ball out to Jota who got his head up and picked out the run of Ajeti in the middle. The striker bundled into the net, only for his celebrations to be cut short by the referee’s whistle for an apparent handball.

A lengthy VAR delay followed, but it showed that the ball had not in fact struck the hand of the Swiss forward, and Celtic had the dream start they had craved.

It was almost two moments later as Ajeti again got in behind, but Bravo got enough on his effort to slow the ball down and it was scrambled away.

Hart had to come up with a strong hand at the other end to keep out a powerful Andres Guardado header, but the main danger to Celtic at this stage was within their own ranks, with Soro skirting dangerously close to a red card after bundling over Joaquin.

The home fans were baying for his blood, and it seemed a matter of when, not if, the midfielder would be given his marching orders. He somehow survived an hour before being withdrawn.

The home fans were angered again as Celtic were awarded a penalty, but it was a stonewaller. Turnbull and Ajeti exchanged passes to put the striker in on Bravo once more. The keeper came charging out and sent Ajeti spinning up into the air, leaving the referee no choice but to award the spot-kick.

Somewhat surprisingly, it was Juranovic who stepped up to take it, but it was soon apparent why. The full-back bulleted the ball home into Bravo’s top right-hand corner. And it should have been three moments later.

A brilliant ball in behind from Turnbull had Jota in all too easily once more, but Bravo was equal to his dinked attempt to finish.

Juan Miranda served a reminder to the visitors with a shot that deflected off Ralston and hit the base of the post, but it wasn’t heeded. And after a clever pass from Nabil Fekir split the Celtic backline, there was Miranda ghosting through to slot under Hart and pull Betis back into the game. The stadium rocked and heaved. Celtic had to steady the ship, but they were creaking, and almost immediately they cracked again. It was another simple goal, with a ball down the side by Joaquin allowing Iglesias to break the offside trap and square for Juanmi to tap into the empty net.

Having made it through to half-time at least level, the question now was whether Celtic could star the second period as they had the first. And the answer was yes.

A lovely passing move allowed Rogic to poke the ball through to Ajeti inside the area, but under pressure, the striker skied over. Unfortunately, they were also just as porous at the back as they had been, too.

Sergio Canales was afforded far too much time and space out wide, with Soro ambling out to belatedly apply a little pressure. It was too little, too late, as he got his head up to fire over a perfect cross for Iglesias to flick past Hart and put the hosts ahead for the first time.

It would go from bad to worse. A corner was only partially cleared, and Juanmi picked up the scraps to steer a volley in off Hart’s right-hand post.

To their credit, Celtic came back off the canvas, and Ajeti had a goal chalked off for offside before Rogic volleyed off the post. They got their lifeline five minutes from time though, as Turnbull was fouled out wide and swung the free-kick in for Ralston to bullet a header home.

In the end, Celtic had slugged it out toe-to-toe with a team of far greater resources and ultimately came up just short, with the greater punching power of Betis ultimately proving the difference.

Almost two decades after that UEFA Cup Final defeat in this city, the Celtic fans still aren’t over it. It may take them a similarly long time to forget this.