Celtic bowed out of the UEFA Champions League after a shocking dive from Eduardo helped Arsenal on their way to a 3-1 second leg win at the Emirates Stadium. The Gunners moved into the group stages 5-1 on aggregate.
There was no doubting Arsenal's superior quality over the two legs, but once again the nature of the English side's opening goal was hard to take for Celtic. In the first leg, Arsenal won 2-0 courtesy of two freak deflections.
This time, the Gunners profited from blatant cheating by Eduardo. The Brazilian-born Croat shamed himself with a piece of Oscar-winning theatrics to earn the first-half penalty that gave Arsenal a disputed lead.
Emmanuel Eboue and Andrei Arshavin added further strikes after the break but Massimo Donati gave the wonderful Celtic supporters something to cheer when he volleyed home in injury-time.
It had been billed as Mission Impossible in the lead-up. Celtic, trailing 2-0 from the first leg, needed to upset the odds in London but were up against an Arsenal side blessed with world-class talent in every area.
Mowbray's men will now have to look forward to a campaign in UEFA’s new Europa League competition. The draw for the group stages takes place on Friday.
With Landry N’Guemo suspended, Mowbray fielded the team that beat St Johnstone 5-2 on Saturday, meaning places for Marc-Antoine Fortune and Scott McDonald in an attacking 4-4-2 line-up.
Arsenal were minus injured captain Cesc Fabregas, while Arsene Wenger opted to leave Robin van Persie and Arshavin on the bench. Eduardo partnered Nicklas Bendtner in attack.
After a cagey opening, Celtic were handed a good chance in seven minutes when McDonald was fouled 25 yards from goal. Shaun Maloney was given the free-kick duties but his effort smashed off the Arsenal wall.
Celtic's defense had been relatively untroubled in the opening stages but the Gunners burst to life in nine minutes. Abou Diaby created space on the left and found Nicklas Bendtner in the box.
The Arsenal striker sent an instinctive shot towards goal and Artur Boruc pulled off a stunning reaction save, but the ball fell to Eduardo. From just three yards, he somehow missed the target.
That was a huge let-off for Celtic and Arsenal midfielder Denilson was next to have a go, with his powerful shot rattling the side-netting after a storming run down the inside-right channel.
Arsenal had impressed during this period but Celtic settled down and Aiden McGeady began to see more of the ball. He whipped two dangerous crosses into the box but William Gallas was a commanding presence for Arsenal.
Eboue slammed a low volley wide of target in 23 minutes as the Gunners came back at Celtic. Then the Hoops were dealt more bad luck when the English side went ahead courtesy of some blatant cheating by Eduardo.
Chasing his own flick inside the box, the Croatian moved towards Boruc and threw himself to the ground as the Pole came off his line. It was a shocking dive but Spanish referee Manuel Gonzalez was conned and Eduardo converted the spot-kick.
Danny Fox curled a free-kick over the bar as Celtic tried to respond. McDonald then had the ball in the back of the net but he had strayed offside as he met Fortune’s wonderful cross and slotted home. McGeady then fired wide of target.
Boruc denied Eduardo with a super save in the closing stages of the first half. Mowbray then made a change for the start of the second period – Darren O'Dea replacing Gary Caldwell.
McGeady continued his early-season form with another good show on the right flank and he had Celtic’s first effort of the second half – firing inches wide of target from 25 yards.
Eduardo passed up a good chance as Arsenal almost caught Celtic on the break. The Gunners wouldn’t be so wasteful the next time – Eboue ramming home in 54 minutes to put the game out of reach for Celtic.
McGeady and Maloney, who will be key men in Sunday’s match with Hibernian, were withdrawn just after the hour-mark. Willo Flood and Lee Naylor entered the fray, with the full-back flashing a volley across goal just minutes after coming on.
Arsenal made substitutions of their own and Arshavin made an instant impact – sweeping home a low shot in 74 minutes after another flowing move from the Gunners, who will be one of the main challengers for this year's UEFA Champions League.
Yet, Celtic at least had the final say. Andy Hinkel picked out Donati at the back post and his volley smashed in off the post as the Celtic fans erupted.