Europe 2014-19

UEFA Europa League
Group E
Thursday, November 28, 2019
Celtic Park, Glasgow

(Morgan 21, Christie 45, Johnston 74)
(Hunou 89)

NEIL Lennon’s Celtic side made more history as they swept aside Rennes 3-1 at Paradise to guarantee top spot in a European group for the first time. The win took Celtic’s points tally in their Europa League group to 13, the highest number of points ever achieved by a Hoops side in European competition.

The visitors proved difficult to break down in the early stages and it took until the 18th minute before Edouard Mendy was properly tested in the Rennes goal. Olivier Ntcham struck an explosive shot from distance but the keeper dived low to deny the French midfielder.

Midway through the first half Celtic’s attacking pressure began to trouble Rennes more, particularly down the left flank, with Greg Taylor and James Forrest working well together, and the pair were instrumental in opening up the opposition defence for the opening goal.

Taylor slipped a pass in behind for Forrest to run on to and the winger immediately cut a pass back across the face of goal. Lewis Morgan got between two defenders to steer the ball in at the near post for his first goal at Paradise.

With the momentum of the goal behind them, Celtic almost doubled their lead minutes later. Ntcham pounced on a clearance on the edge of the box but Maouassa’s sliding block took some of the sting off the shot, allowing the keeper to make a fingertip save.

Celtic were in clear control and dominated the play throughout the first half, with the French side rarely threatening Fraser Forster.
Morgan almost scored a second shortly before the break when he rose high to get on the end of Moritz Bauer’s cross but the 23-year-old’s header was too close to the keeper.

However, Ryan Christie ensured his side went into half-time with a score which better reflected his side’s superiority when he doubled the lead just before the break. Brown headed the ball forward to Christie who quickly worked his way to the edge of the area and drilled a shot in at the near post.

James Forrest made an impressive attempt to score his 14th goal of the season with a wonderfully-taken volley early in the second half. Christie’s out-swinging corner fell kindly to Forrest on the edge of the penalty area and his first-time strike looked to be heading for the bottom corner before it was blocked.

Rennes were more active in attack in the second period and the game opened up more as both sides went in search of goals.
That meant Fraser Forster was called upon to protect Celtic’s lead and the Hoops stopper played a crucial role in protecting Celtic’s lead.

He made an impressive point-blank save and he steered the rebound on to the post. The Englishman then made two saves in quick succession as Rennes enjoyed their most fruitful spell going forward midway through the second period.

It didn’t take Celtic long to reassert their control on the game as the Hoops retained possession and began pressuring their opponent’s goalmouth.Mikey Johnston marked his return from injury when he replaced Forrest on the left wing and the young winger scored less than 10 minutes after coming on.

An intricate piece of passing between Johnston and Ntcham just outside the box opened up the Rennes defence and a quick drop of the shoulder allowed the young Celt to get away from his marker and drilled a shot across goal.
Leigh Griffiths came on late in the game and did well to create some space for himself while surrounded by two defenders to force a good save from the keeper from 18 yards.

At the other end, Rennes grabbed a goal back in the final minute through Adrien Hunou but it did nothing to dent what was a stellar performance in Celtic’s final home game of the group. Neil Lennon’s side will travel to Romania in two weeks to face Cluj, having guaranteed top spot in Group E.

CELTIC: Forster, Jullien, Taylor, Brown (Bitton 76), Bauer, Morgan, Christie (Griffiths 79), Ntcham, Ajer, McGregor; Forrest (Johnston 66)
Subs: Gordon, Sinclair, Rogic, Robertson

RENNES:Mendy, Nyamsi, Siebatcheu, Guitane (Da Cunha 64), Siliki, Bourigeaud, Maouassa, Tait (Gboho 79), Gnagnon, Castillo, Boey (Hunou 79)
Subs: Salin, Da Silva, Doumbia, Gelin


UEFA Europa League
Round of 32, 1st Leg
Thursday, February 14, 2019
Celtic Park, Glasgow
(Cheryshev 42, Sobrino 48)

THE first leg of Celtic’s last 32 UEFA Europa League encounter against Valencia ended in disappointment tonight (Thursday), when the Spanish side beat the Scottish champions 2-0 at Paradise.

Both sides started the match with a pace and intensity fitting of the occasion, and it wasn’t long before Celtic carved their first half-chance by way of James Forrest.

Picking up the ball on the inside-right channel, the 27-year-old drove into the opposing penalty area before being pulled to the ground by Valencia left-back Lato.

The referee waved play on, and the loose ball broke to Ryan Christie who curled a left-foot shot at goal that was comfortably matched by Neto between the sticks.

For the next five minutes, the Hoops capitalised on a spell of neat possession play, when Scott Sinclair burst past his man on the left flank and sought to cross into the box.

He was matched by Piccini who blocked for a corner, and despite rising well for the set-piece, Dedryck Boyata couldn’t get enough of his head around the ball.

When in possession, Valencia stepped out from the back with a speed and directness that called for aggressive defending from the Scottish champions.

Jeremy Toljan looked solid on the right-side of the Hoops defence, and looked equally competent when linking up with Scott Brown inside, and Forrest just in front.

Deeper into the first-half, the visitors settled into their game and passed the ball around with a finesse and sharpness reflective of La Liga standard. On 20 minutes, a handy cross from Ruben Sobrino at wide-right was met by the head of Daniel Wass, which despite looking goal-bound, forced a wonderful save from Hoops stopper Scott Bain who clawed the ball from the top corner at full-stretch.

Celtic continued to defend well and press the game whenever the space allowed. On 35 minutes, a long ball was chased down by Olly Burke but cleared by Mouctar Diakhaby, and moments later, Sinclair laced a beautifully-weighted ball through to Burke once more, which caused Lato to clear with his feet at the edge of the penalty area.

With just three minutes of normal time left in the first half, the visitors broke the deadlock by virtue of a well-worked counter-attack. Callum McGregor had a claim for a foul turned down deep into his opponents’ half, and the loose ball broke to Valencia captain Parejo.

He played a timely through-ball through to Sobrino, who squared to Denis Cheryshev in front of goal, and the Russian tapped in from a few yards out.

The visitors went into the break in front, and doubled their lead just three minutes into the second period, when another fast break saw Cheryshev this time turn provider for striking partner Sobrino.

After winning the ball in the middle of the pitch, Valencia broke out wide on the left flank, Cheryshev crossed into the box, and Sobrino struck hard into the net from six-yards.

Mindful of the visitors’ two away goals, Celtic duly stepped out ahead of the hour-mark before Ryan Christie and Scott Sinclair made way for Odsonne Edouard and Timo Weah respectively.

The new attacking options gave the home side a boost in the final third, and a handful of half-chances fell to the fresh faces as the Hoops pressed to pull one back.

On 70 minutes, McGregor showed great vision to find Emilio Izaguirre on the inside-left flank, before the 32-year-old Honduran played in Edouard down the line with a great first-time pass. The Frenchman in turn drove to the touchline, but his low cross was scrambled clear before reaching the oncoming Weah.

Inside the final 10 minutes, a well-structured and well-disciplined Valencia sat in and dictated the pace of the game from deep inside their own half. Likewise, a frustrated Celtic pressed with typical determination, but could not create enough in front of the opposition goal.

With it all to do in the second leg of their last 32 UEFA Europa League encounter, the Hoops will aim to overturn a two-goal deficit when they travel to the Estadio Mestalla next week (Thursday, February 21).

CELTIC: Bain; Toljan, Boyata, Simunovic, Izaguirre; Brown, McGregor, Forrest, Christie (Edouard 59), Sinclair (Weah 59); Burke
Subs not used: Gordon, Lustig, Ajer, Hayes, Johnston

VALENCIA: Neto; Piccinini (Gameiro 78), Garay, Diakhaby, Lato; Soler, Parejo (Coquelin 45), Kondogbia, Wass; Cheryshev (Guedes 64); Sobrino
Subs not used: Domenech, Lee, Torres, Centelles

Europa League
Group Stages, Matchday Six
Celtic Park, Glasgow
Thursday, 13 December, 2018

(Ntcham 90+5)

(Dabbur 66, Gulbrandsen 77)

CELTIC reached the knockout stages of the UEFA Europa League on a remarkable night of football. Despite losing 2-1 to FC Salzburg at Paradise, Brendan Rodgers’ side still finished second in Group B after RB Leipzig could only draw with Rosenborg. And they will now take their place in the last 32 draw, which takes place on Monday.

Munas Dabbur handed Salzburg the lead in the second half before Fredrik Gulbrandsen doubled the lead. Olivier Ntcham clawed a late goal back for Celtic from a penalty, but it was the 1-1 result in Leipzig which raised the roof at Paradise.

Salzburg, as they had done in Austria, pressed Celtic aggressively in all areas of the pitch and made it difficult for them to build an attack from the back. Craig Gordon was called into action early on to deny Zlatko Junuzovic, tipping the midfielder’s header over the crossbar. Jerome Onguene then came even closer with a header shortly afterwards, but the ball crashed off the underside of the crossbar.

Gordon came to Celtic’s rescue again after Kristoffer Ajer, on for the injured Mikael Lustig, lost possession deep inside Celtic’s half which allowed Hannes Wolf to dart through on goal. The Hoops keeper was off his line quickly though and made a fantastic save to deny the Austrian.

Towards the end of the first-half, Jozo Simunovic prevented the visitors from initiating a counter- attack by dispossessing Munas Dabbur out on the wing before releasing Forrest who whipped a low cross in towards the far post, but it was just too far in front of Sinclair.

Forrest glided past two Salzburg midfielders and slipped the ball through to Odsonne Edouard. The Hoops striker tried to cut inside to shoot but was tackled. Sinclair then tried to test the keeper right before the break with a curling effort from the corner of the box towards the back post but he was a yard wide of the target.

Scott Brown was introduced for the start fo the second-half in place of Scott Sinclair, and the Hoops captain helped match Salzburg’s aggression in centre of midfield which allowed his team-mates to pressure the opposition more. However, there was an early setback for Celtic when Ryan Christie suffered what looked like a serious leg injury and was stretchered off.

Celtic had grown in confidence from the first half and pressured the Salzburg defence. That led to a promising attack with Kieran Tierney drilling a low ball across the six-yard box but the visiting defence managed to scramble clear the danger.

And Salzburg took the lead when Stefan Lainer was given time to swing a cross into the Celtic box which Dabbur nodded beyond Gordon. The Austrian side were gifted a second goal when Gordon’s throw-out was intercepted and Fredrik Gulbrandsen rolled the ball into an empty net.

Celtic came agonisingly close to getting a goal back from a corner with seven minutes remaining. Benkovic’s glancing header found its way to Ajer who was unable to convert from inside the six-yard box.

Celtic continued to fight for a way back into the game and right up until the last minute. Olivier Ntcham almost found the top corner from a free kick and Forrest saw his half-volleyed effort blocked inside the box.

The biggest cheer of the night came when news of Rosenborg’s equaliser in Germany filtered through to the Celtic fans before Ntcham converted an injury-time penalty.

The progression into the knockout stages is the first time in 11 years that the Hoops have had European football after Christmas in back-to-back seasons. Celtic are now in the last 32 of the UEFA Europa League for the second successive season and will find out their opponents in Monday’s (December 17) draw.

CELTIC: Gordon; Lustig (Ajer 20), Simunovic, Benkovic, Tierney; McGregor, Rogic, Christie (Ntcham 57); Sinclair (Brown 45), Forrest; Edouard.
Subs: Bain, Izaguirre, Hayes, Morgan

FC SALZBURG: Walke; Lainer, Ramalho, Onguene, Ulmer; Mwepu (Leitgeb 79), Samassekou, Wolf, Junuzovic; Minamino (Gulbrandsen 74), Dabbur (Prevljak 90)
Subs: Stankovic, Daka, Pongracic, Todorovic

UEFA Europa League

Group B, matchday five

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Lerkendal Stadion, Trondheim



(Sinclair 42)

CELTIC secured a vital 1-0 victory over Rosenborg in Norway tonight (Thursday) on matchday five of their Europa League group-stage campaign, courtesy of a Scott Sinclair header just before half-time.

And that win, coupled with FC Salzburg’s 1-0 victory against FB Leipzig, means that Brendan Rodgers’ side can secure European football after Christmas if they avoid defeat in their final group-stage game – a home match against FC Salzburg on December 13.

Brendan Rodgers’ side started the tie in Trondheim strongly, and it was Sinclair who had the first chance after just two minutes, curling an effort on target from inside the area, but Andre Hansen in the Rosenborg goal saved comfortably.

Tom Rogic, back in the side following his international exertions with Australia, was proving dangerous, and he had a shot that went just narrowly wide in the eighth minute, while just three minutes later, he fed the ball to Odsonne Edouard, but the Frenchman couldn’t get a shot away.

Celtic had a claim for a penalty waved away after 18 minutes when Edouard went down inside the box following a corner, while six minutes later, it took a superb Andre Hansen save to prevent Rogic from giving the Hoops a well-deserved lead.

While it had been mostly one-way traffic, Celtic still had to be vigilant at the back, and the Hoops were grateful to see De Lanlay’s cross go wide as Rosenborg attacked on the break, while Boyata had to be alert to put the end to another attack for the home side.

In between those two attacks, Brendan Rodgers’ side had a triple chance, with Rogic, James Forrest and Edouard all denied by Hansen’s heroics.

However, with three minutes of the first-half remaining, the Rosenborg goalkeeper could do nothing to prevent Celtic breaking the deadlock. Fantastic work from James Forrest on the right-hand side of the area saw him float a cross to the back post where Sinclair was on hand to head home.

Rosenborg came out after half-time intent on getting back into the game, and Filip Benkovic needed to be alert to block a shot inside the first two minutes.

Djordje Denic, on as a substitute for the home side, was yellow-carded for a heavy tackle on James Forrest and just before the hour mark, the Serbian was lucky to escape a second booking after fouling Kieran Tierney.

Edouard had Celtic’s best chance of the second 45 minutes, but his goal-bound shot was blocked by Ryan Christie. With just under 15 minutes of the match remaining, there was the welcome sight of Scott Brown returning to action, the Celtic skipper replacing James Forrest, and his experience was needed in the closing stages of the game as Rosenborg stepped up the pressure.

However, Brendan Rodgers’ side displayed resolute and disciplined defending to see out the game and take all three points, which now gives the Hoops a great chance of progressing to the knockout stages of the Europa League with a positive result next month against FC Salzburg at what is sure to be a packed Paradise.

ROSENBORG: Hansen, Hedenstad, Meling, Reginiussen, Jensen, Konradsen (Denic 46), Bendtner, De Lanlay, Trondsen (Vilhjalmsson 66), Hovland, Adegbenro.

Subs: Ostbo, Soderlund, Levi, Reitan, Serbecic

CELTIC: Gordon, Lustig (Gamboa 66), Boyata, Benkovic, Tierney; McGregor, Christie, Rogic; Sinclair, Forrest (Brown 76); Edouard (Griffiths 66).

Subs: Bain, Hendry, Hayes, Ntcham.


Celtic 2-1 RB leipzig EuropaLeague Match Day 4   Celtic Park Glasgow 8th Nov 2018

Group B

Celtic scored 14 seconds after conceding to secure a dramatic victory over RB Leipzig to keep their Europa League dreams on track.

Leipzig’s Jean-Kevin Augustin equalised with a header on 78 minutes but straight from the restart Odsonne Edouard struck back.

Knowing defeat could eliminate them with two games left, Kieran Tierney had put the hosts ahead early on.

Celtic sit third in Group B, level with Leipzig, but trail on head-to-head.

The Scottish champions travel to Trondheim to face Rosenborg next on November 29, before finishing at home to Salzburg a fortnight later.

In a frenetic finish, Kevin Kampl struck the bar for the visitors and then blazed over when clean through on goal to ensure the Scottish side secured a vital victory.

Celtic rediscover European magic
The much talked about “disco lights” that were installed at Celtic Park in the summer – reportedly worth over £2million – had their European bow, but initially it was RB Leipzig that lit up Celtic Park.

The Germans threatened to spoil the party as they were right on top of Celtic for the first 10 minutes. But it was James Forrest who grabbed this game by the scruff of the neck for the Scottish champions.

The winger drove at Leipzig before flashing a ball across the penalty area for Tierney who more than matched the initiative shown by Forrest by lashing the ball home.

It sent an electrical pulse through the stadium as the home fans suddenly sensed this could be one of those heady nights where the Celtic momentum would sweep a dangerous opponent aside and end with the result that was required.

Alas, life for Scottish sides in European football is rarely that simple.

At times in the second half it felt like there was wave after wave of Celtic attack, but the goals would simply not flow.

And then came the cruel blow as the quality of RB Leipzig sliced Celtic open as the Germans equalised. Kevin-Augustin ghosted in at the back post, unmarked, to nod home.

The reaction from the Scottish champions was fantastic. Up the field they swept, Christie crossed for Edouard who fired home from point blank range.

Suddenly the disappointment of the equaliser was forgotten by the home faithful. It was a goal of real character in a compelling match.

Plenty of work ahead for Celtic to qualify- analysis
This result still leaves RB Leipzig with the advantage over Celtic. Both sides are on six points, but then it comes down to head-to-head and goal difference between tied teams – which means advantage RB Leipzig, 3-2 on aggregate.

After this result, Celtic’s fate is now out of their hands. With them unable to overturn the head-to-head record, they must simply try and replicate this performance which Rodgers has waited for and hope their German counterparts slip up.

It is not over yet for Celtic but they have plenty to do.

Young Scots shine on European stage
Former Scotland defender Willie Miller on BBC Scotland’s Sportsound

Ryan Christie has been handed the chance through circumstances, through injuries, and he’s come into the Celtic team and he’s been outstanding. Not just in playing in a Celtic team that’s playing at a high level, but playing against quality opposition as well.

He’s now really putting in performances that are saying to Brendan Rodgers, even if he’s not going to be starting he’s going to be a big part of his plans going forward.

Kieran Tierney, Callum McGregor, Christie and James Forrest, the four of them were brilliant. And when you throw Craig Gordon in the mix it’s not a bad back-bone of a Scotland team.

Former Celtic goalkeeper Pat Bonner on BBC Scotland’s Sportsound

I think if Ryan Christie keeps performing like he did tonight, it’s going to be very difficult for Brendan Rodgers to leave him out. The energy he put in, the runs tonight, that’s what Stuart Armstrong used to do.

It’s magnificent to see a Scottish player going out and performing against a good Leipzig team. Kieran Tierney, Callum McGregor and James Forrest as well though, all good young Scottish players performing at that level, that’s what we want to see and they did it really well.

Team P GD Pts
1 RB Salzburg 4 9 12
2 RB Leipzig 4 2 6
3 Celtic 4 -2 6
4 Rosenborg 4 -9 0

Europa League Draw 2018-19



Celtic v Rosenborg BK
UEFA Europa League
20th September 2018
Kick Off 20:00

Thursday, August 30, 2018

UEFA Europa League Play-Off, second leg

Celtic Park, Glasgow


(Griffiths 27, McGregor 53, Ajer 60)


LEIGH Griffiths scored his 100th goal for the Hoops as Celtic swept aside Lithuanian champions FK Suduva 3-0 at Paradise. Brendan Rodgers’ side found their attacking rhythm with a convincing performance to book their place in the group stages of the UEFA Europa League.

Griffiths opened the scoring with a wonderful free-kick in the first half and Callum McGregor doubled the lead early in the second. Kristoffer Ajer then rounded off the scoring with his first goal for the club.

Brendan Rodgers made three changes to side that defeated Hamilton Accies on Sunday, with Scott Sinclair, Mikey Johnston and Olivier Ntcham all returning to the starting XI in place of James Forrest, Tom Rogic and Moussa Dembele.

The Lithuanian champions arrived in Glasgow needing a goal in order to cancel out Celtic’s advantage from the first leg, but the visitors struggled to get the ball out their own half on the rare occasions that they did have possession.

Scott Sinclair was first to test Ivan Kardum in the Suduva goal shortly after kick-off but the Englishman couldn’t keep his shot down and it flew a couple of yards over the crossbar. Ntcham followed suit with a similar effort from 20 yards but the Frenchman’s effort was also just off target.

Celtic gradually started to be more efficient with the possession they enjoyed and began creating better goalscoring opportunities midway through the half. Griffiths passed up a great opportunity to put Celtic ahead when the Suduva defence failed to properly clear a cross into their box. 

The ball fell to the Scotland striker on the penalty spot but his quick-fire shot was straight at the keeper.

He soon made amends from a free-kick, though, after Callum McGregor was brought down around at the 20-yard mark. 

Griffiths, as he has done on more than one occasion, stepped up and delivered with an excellent shot, lifting the ball over the wall and into the bottom corner for his 100th Celtic goal.

Sinclair nearly extended the lead when Ntcham’s flashing cross into the box came to him at the back post. He took a touch and readied a shot from inside the six-yard box, but the Suduva keeper pounced off his line to save.

McGregor came agonisingly close to scoring right before the break when Kieran Tierney played a wonderful ball down the left wing for him to run on to. He cut into the box and tried to curl the ball past the keeper from a tight angle but it was just wide of the left-hand post.

Celtic came out for the second half looking to add to their lead early on, and the goal didn’t take long to come, with McGregor proving successful in doubling Celtic’s lead just over five minutes from the restart. 

He collected the ball inside the area and calmly placed it beyond Kardum.

With the momentum of the second goal, Celtic moved up a gear and began pilling the pressure on the Lithuanian side with lots of promising attacking play coming from either wing.

McGregor’s excellent footwork and burst of pace troubled Suduva and he almost set Griffiths up for his second of the night when he cut the ball back for his team-mate but the Hoops striker couldn’t get a clean connection on the cross.

Suduva’s confidence and desire seemed to deteriorate as the second half progressed and Brendan Rodgers’s side, sensing weakness, turned up the heat. They dominated possession and continued to punish the Lithuanian champions’ defensive frailties with some impressive attacking play.

The visitors were beaten again when Kristoffer Ajer met Griffiths’ deep cross towards the back post with a looping header that crept past the keeper for his first Celtic goal.

Ryan Christie, on for Griffiths, then set up MIkey Johnston with an excellent opportunity to score his first senior goal when he broke away with the ball near the halfway line and slipped a perfectly-weighted pass into the path of the young winger. But the resulting shot was straight at the keeper.

Christie himself came close to adding his name to the score-sheet near the end of the game, as did Sinclair, but it was Ajer who came closest, jinking into the box and only denied bya  good save from the keeper.

Celtic’s Europa League group opponents will be decided in tomorrow afternoon’s draw at 12noon (Celtic Park time), while the team’s focus will be firmly on this Sunday’s Glasgow derby at Paradise.

CELTIC (4-1-2-3) Gordon; Lustig, Boyata, Ajer, Tierney (Izaguirre 69); Brown; Ntcham, McGregor; Johnston (Hayes 78), Griffiths (Christie 64), Sinclair.

Not Used: Bain, Gamboa, Rogic, Forrest

FK SUDUVA (4-5-1) Kardum; Svrljuga, Gajduchik, Jankauskas, Slavickas; Gotal (Kasparavicius 73), Zivanovic, Cadenovic (Leimonas 55), Acevedo, Offenbacher (Verbickas 79); Cicilia

Not Used: Aleksandrov-Ridley, Cinikas, Matulevicius, Vezevicius

UEFA Europa League
Play-off first leg
ARVI Football Arena, Marijampole, Luthuania
Thursday, August 23, 2018

(Verbickas 13)

(Ntcham 3)

It was a frustrating night for Celtic in Lithuania as they drew 1-1 with FK Suduva in the first leg of their UEFA Europa League play-off. Despite taking an early lead through Olivier Ntcham, the Hoops conceded an equaliser, and despite enjoying the bulk of possession for the remainder of the game, Celtic were unable to fashion another goal.

Brendan Rodgers made six changes to the side which started against Partick Thistle in the League Cup last weekend, with Mikey Johnston making his first European start for Celtic. And the 19-year-old took just three minutes into the game to justify his selection.

Gathering the ball on the left flank, he showed great trickery to create some space before picking out Olivier Ntcham in the six-yard box, and the Frenchman made no mistake, heading the Hoops into an early lead.

Celtic were dominating possession in the ARVI Football Arena, taking the game to their opponents, but it was Suduva who grabbed an unexpected equaliser on 13 minutes. A free-kick from the right-hand side was swung to the back post and Ovidijus Verbickas found himself in space to head beyond Craig Gordon.

Despite the setback, the Hoops continued to push forward, and James Forrest was denied by a good save from the Suduva goalkeeper before the winger turned provider on 25 minutes, picking out Johnston inside the box. But the teenager’s header was saved by Ivan Kardum in the Suduva goal.

Kristoffer Ajer came even closer just after the half-hour mark, showing great footwork inside a crowded penalty area, but he couldn’t get enough power on his shot to evade the keeper. And five minutes later, Kardum came to his side’s rescue again to deny Callum McGregor after he raced into the box to flick a Moussa Dembele pass towards goal.

After the break, the game continued in the same vein, with Celtic enjoying the bulk of possession without being able to get that second goal. And the Hoops were forced to make a change on 52 minutes when Jozo Simunovic was forced off through injury, with Mikael Lustig slotting into central defence.

Dembele hit the side-netting on 54 minutes before Celtic had Craig Gordon to thank, the Celtic goalkeeper saving well from a Ruben Cicilia shot just inside the box. Kieran Tierney fired a powerful shot just over the bar on 63 minutes before Gordon denied Suduva substitute, Julius Kasparaviciou a minute later.

Chances were now at a premium as the game entered the final stages, with Leigh Griffiths on for Mikey Johnston, as the Hoops put two men up front and went to a back three, with Emilio Izaguirre replacing Cristian Gamboa.

Late in the game, Ajer came close with a header from a corner, but the Hoops had to settle for a 1-1 draw, knowing that they can complete the job at Celtic Park next Thursday night and reach the group stages of the Europa League

CELTIC: Gordon, Gamboa (Izaguirre 66), Simunovic (Lustig 52), Ajer, Tierney; Brown, Ntcham; Forrest, McGregor, Johnston (Griffiths 66; Dembele.
Subs: Bain, Kouassi, Rogic, Sinclair.

UEFA Champions League
Third Qualifying Round, 1st Leg
Celtic Park, Glasgow
Wednesday, August 8, 2018

(McGregor 16)

(Klonaridis 43)

CELTIC will travel to Greece next week knowing they face the toughest of tests against AEK Athens after a 1-1 draw at Celtic Park tonight. Despite dominating much of the game, the Scottish champions were unable to get the winning goal they deserved.

Callum McGregor had fired Celtic ahead early in the first half but AEK Athens snatched an equaliser just before the break, and the visitors were fortunate to keep Celtic out in the second-half.

Kieran Tierney and Jack Hendry returned to the Hoops starting XI in place of Jozo Simunovic and Jonny Hayes. The pair were the only two changes Brendan Rodgers made to the side that won 3-1 in the Premiership opener against Livingston four days ago.

The game started a frantic pace as both sides looked to establish a strong footing early on with lots of attacking intent. Konstantinos Galanopoulos issued an early warning when he latched on to a Celtic clearance on the edge of the box before darting for the by-line and cutting a dangerous pass across the face of goal but, thankfully, Craig Gordon intercepted.

Celtic quickly responded with an attack of their own when Callum McGregor broke down the left flank in possession. The midfielder carried the ball into the box and tried to picked out Edouard but the Greek defence had packed the box.

Kieran Tierney proved to be a thorn in the side of the Greek champions throughout the 90 minutes and the young full-back showed his attacking intent early on. His powerful shot from the edge of the penalty area took a deflection before veering into the path of Edouard inside the six-yard box. The French striker had no time to react, though, and couldn’t capitalise on the opportunity.

Edouard turned provider moments later with some wonderful hold-up play before laying the ball off to McGregor. The keeper could only punch the shot out for a corner, and the resulting set-piece almost resulted in a goal when Kristoffer Ajer headed the ball back across goal for James Forrest, but the winger’s half volley was blocked inside a packed box.

The well-drilled attacking play from Celtic finally proved too much for AEK Athens who eventually conceded just after the 15-minute mark. Tierney’s pass just inside the box took a slight deflection and fell to the feet of McGregor. With his back to goal, the midfielder took a touch, turned and fired the ball across goal and into the back of the net.

Forrest came close to doubling Celtic’s advantage in the latter stages of the half. He twisted and turned inside the box to create just enough space, but his effort flashed a yard wide of goal.

Despite controlling the first half, Celtic conceded an equaliser shortly before break when Helder Lopes’s cross from the edge of the by-line picked out Victor Klonaridis. The AEK forward found himself in space inside the area and had the time to take a touch before firing the ball beyond Gordon.

Ntcham almost regained the lead for Celtic shortly after the restart with a fine shot from 25-yards but it flew inches wide of the keeper’s right-hand post. Forrest was lively going forward and Galanopoulos’s attempt to prevent the winger breaking away with the ball resulted in the Greek internationalist receiving a second yellow card just 10 minutes after the restart.

With the extra man, Celtic turned up the heat on AEK but the Greek champions made life difficult by sitting deep and packing the box. Forrest provided substitute Leigh Griffiths with an excellent ball after getting beyond his man but the Scotland striker’s header across goal went narrowly over.

Scott Sinclair came on as a substitute midway through the second period and provided an additional attacking threat out on the left as AEK continued to defend resolutely. Forrest and Ntcham both came close in the dying embers of the game but they both watched as their efforts flew narrowly wide of the goal.

The return leg in Athens next Tuesday night will be a tough one for the Hoops, given the fact AEK managed to secure a vital away goal, but Celtic proved tonight that they will pose an attacking threat to their Greek hosts as Brendan Rodgers’ side look to continue their UEFA Champions League qualification campaign.

CELTIC (4-2-3-1) Gordon; Lustig (Sinclair 76), Hendry, Ajer, Tierney; Brown, Ntcham; Forrest, Rogic (Griffiths 63), McGregor; Edouard.
Not Used: Bain, Simunovic, Hayes, Johnston, Kouassi

AEK ATHENS (4-4-2) Barkas; Bakakis, Lopes, Oikonomou, Lampropoulos; Galanopoulos, Simoes, Bakasetas (Saldanha 65); Livaja (Ponce 65), Klonaridis (Galo 80), Boyé.
Not Used: Giakoumakis, Brito, Cosic, Tsintotas, Hult


UEFA Champions League
Second qualifying round, first-leg
Celtic Park, Glasgow
Wednesday, July 25, 2018

(Edouard 43, 75 Ntcham 46)

(Meling 16)

ODSONNE Edouard’s deadly double and Olivier Ntcham’s sublime strike saw Celtic come from behind in Paradise to put Rosenborg to the sword and take pole position in the UEFA Champions League second qualifying round with a 3-1 win.

The Hoops had trailed to Birger Meling’s early opener but they deservedly levelled before the interval when Edouard netted after being supplied by Sinclair in the box.

Seconds into the second half, Ntcham curled home a magnificent finish from the edge of the box, sparking an onslaught on the Rosenborg goal, with only the heroics of goalkeeper Andre Hansen thwarting the Scottish champions.

They added a richly merited third in the 75th minute when Edouard raced onto James Forrest’s pass and finished in style. And the Celts came within inches of inflicting further punishment on the increasingly beleaguered visitors, hitting the woodwork three times.

However, particularly after going behind early in the contest, it was a satisfying night for Brendan Rodgers and his players, giving them a strong advantage to take into next week’s return game in Trondheim.

Cristian Gamboa made his first Hoops start since starring for Costa Rica at the World Cup. The right-back last featured for Brendan Rodgers’ side back in February against St Johnstone, but he came into the side after starring for his country in Russia, where he played in all three of their games.

Gamboa’s inclusion was one of two changes to the team that dispatched FC Alashkert 3-0 last week in the previous round of the competition, with Scott Sinclair also restored to the side. The injured Moussa Dembele and the suspended Jozo Simunovic dropped out.

It only took Sinclair 30 seconds to make his presence felt, the winger curling over from an acute angle after the visitors failed to properly clear a cross. Rosenborg replied rapidly, however, and Pal Andre Helland dragged a shot wide following a counter-attack.

Back came the Bhoys and Odsonne Edouard fashioned room on the edge of the box, before bringing out the first save of the match from Hanson, albeit it was comfortable for the goalkeeper.

As both teams continued to show attacking intent, Mike Jenson wasn’t far away from connecting with a cross for the Trondheim team, before Olivier Ntcham lashed over from distance. It was Rosenborg who struck first, though. Nicklas Bendtner slipped a pass inside for the onrushing Meling, whose first-time shot flew beyond Craig Gordon.

The home crowd were only momentarily silenced, however, before issuing a fresh roar of encouragement, and the players responded. Kristoffer Ajer was unable to get a touch to Callum McGregor’s corner, Ntcham flashed another effort wide and McGregor’s deflected drive forced Hanson into action again.

The Scottish champions were also denied what looked a strong penalty claim when Ntcham went down in the box under Vegar Hedenstad’s challenge as the midfielder attempted to spin away from the defender. Much to the ire of the Celtic dugout and home crowd, referee Bert Vertenten, was unmoved.

As the half wore on, the pressure increased on the Rosenborg goal, with Sinclair’s rasping effort deflected over. Eventually, two minutes before the break, Celtic got their rewards. Sinclair darted into the box and picked out Edouard, who coolly slotted home amid a ruck of players.

And with a bit more luck, the Bhoys could have gone in at the interval ahead as Forrest’s inviting cutback evaded everyone in the middle, much to the relief of Rini Coolen’s men.

Still, they didn’t have long to wait after the restart to complete the turnaround – 42 seconds to be exact. Ntcham received a pass at the edge of the box, cut inside two defenders and then curled a magnificent shot into the top corner, sending Celtic Park into raptures.

It was one-way traffic now, with the Hoops looking a threat every time they ventured forward. McGregor had a shot deflected wide and then, following the resultant corner, the same player’s cross was tipped onto the bar by the back-tracking Hansen.

Moments later, the Rosenborg shot-stopper was beaten, but he was relieved to see Edouard’s free-kick flash inches wide of the far post. After a Forrest thrust into the box had caused consternation to the Norwegian side, Gamboa was next to try his luck, his long-range effort deflecting into the side-netting.

The barrage continued and Edouard, a growing menace for the away side, supplied Jack Hendry but the defender was denied by a last-ditch block, while Hansen blocked Sinclair’s angled shot.

Midway through the second half, Ntcham was denied a sensational second by a superb save from Hansen, the keeper somehow getting a hand to the Frenchman’s dipping, curling shot, to send it on to the bar. Tierney was then thwarted twice in quick succession by Hansen, first from Gamboa’s low centre and then after he’d been teed-up by Sinclair.

Finally, with 15 minutes let on the clock, Rosenborg’s resilience was broken. Forrest released Edouard, who broke the offside trap, raced in on goal, before showing incredible composure to coolly chip home over the advancing Hansen.

Tom Rogic, making his first appearance since returning from the World Cup, then entered the fray – a signal of Celtic’s intent to add to their tally. And they came so close to achieving that objective as Ajer headed on to the bar from McGregor’s free-kick, though the cheers at the final whistle said it all – it had been an excellent night’s work from the Scottish champions.

CELTIC 4-2-3-1) Gordon; Gamboa, Hendry, Ajer, Tierney; Brown, Ntcham (Rogic 76); McGregor, Forrest, Sinclair; Edouard
Not Used: Bain, Christie, Allan, Ralston, Johnston, Kouassi

ROSENBORG (4-3-3) Hansen; Hedenstad, Reginiussen, Hovland, Meling; Jensen, Lundemo (Soderlund 61), Trondsen; Helland (Gersbach 73), Bendtner, Levi
Not Used: Osbo, Viljalmsson, Reitan, Konradsen, Ceide

Website Man of the Match: Odsonne Edouard

SEASON 2018-19 

download (1)

UEFA Champions League
First qualifying round, second leg
Celtic Park, Glasgow
Wednesday, July 18, 2018

(Dembele 7, 19, Forrest 34)


(Celtic win 6-0 on aggregate)

CELTIC cruised past Alashkert to book their place in the second round of the UEFA Champions League qualification with an impressive 3-0 win despite being limited to 10 men for the majority of the game.

Moussa Dembele fired Celtic ahead early in the first half and then netted a second from the penalty spot before James Forrest rounded off the first-half demolition. The 6-0 aggregate win means Celtic will now face Norwegian side Rosenborg in the second qualifying round, with the first leg taking place at Paradise next Wednesday,July 25 (KO: 7.45pm kick-off. Ticket information to follow).

Brendan Rodgers named an unchanged starting XI to the side which put three past the Alashkert in the Armenian capital of Yerevan last week, with the French attacking pairing of Odsonne Edouard and Moussa Dembele starting up front together again.

Celtic started brightly and looked intent on extending their lead early on as they piled the pressure on Alashkert with high-temp attacking football. Dembele tested the keeper early on and was denied with his initial effort but he found the back of the net moments later to kick-start Celtic’s goal rush.

After spinning away from the defence on the edge of the box with the ball, he was swarmed by five Alashkert players but he showed great strength and determination to work some space and steer the ball beyond the keeper and into the bottom corner.

Alashkert were handed a lifeline 10 minutes into the game when Jozo Simunovic was sent off for a high-footed challenge, which rules him out of Celtic’s first leg against Rosenborg next week.

The dismissal did little to derail Celtic’s momentum, however, as the Hoops continued to dominate possession and controlled the game with quick flowing passing which resulted in more goalscoring opportunities.

Edouard posed a threat for Armenian side’s defence with his pace and quick footwork, and he won a penalty for Celtic when he dribbled his way into the box and was brought down. Dembele stepped up and converted from the spot to double Celtic’s advantage.

Edouard was lively in the final third and continued to torment the Armenian side. He almost grabbed a goal after Forrest slipped a well-timed pass into his path but his chipped effort from a tight angle was saved by the goalkeeper.

The pair then switched roles to hand Celtic a third goal. Edouard turned provider as he initiated a Celtic counter-attack from the halfway line. He passed the ball into Forrest’s path, and the Hoops winger hit a wonderfully-placed shot across goal from 18 yards which nestled in the back of the net.

Celtic were more patient and controlled in the early part of the second half, although Kieran Tierney was denied a specatular goal early on when his powerful half-volley was tipped over the bar by the Alashkert keeper.

Brendan Rodgers handed Ryan Christie and Scott Sinclair the attacking duties midway through the half as he brought off Edouard and Dembele, and the substitutes quickly found their footing in the game. Chrisite’s first chance stemmed from Kristoffer Ajer’s brilliant surging run from the heart of the Celtic defence. He glided past four opposition players before threading a great ball through for Chrisitie, but the keeper raced off his line to smother the danger.

Sinclair presented a similar threat and tried to extend Celtic’s lead after he cut in from the left and fired a shot towards the far corner but it was narrowly off target.

Chrisite came close again with another well-timed run which put him on through on goal. He was under pressure from an opposition defender but was still able to get a shot away which brought out a good save from Cancarevic.

Brendan Rodgers’ side will now have to see off Rosenborg for the second season in a row in order to progress in their UEFA Champions League qualification campaign.

CELTIC (4-2-3-1) Gordon; Hendry, Ajer, Simunovic, Tierney; Brown, Ntcham; Forrest (Johnston 75), Edouard (Sinclair 64), McGregor; Dembele (Christie 65)
Not Used: Bain , Allan, Ralston, Kouassi

ALASHKERT (4-5-1) Cancarevic; Voskanyan, Daghbashyan, Dashyan, Sekulic (Simonyan 64); Nenadovic (Manasyan 45), Yedigaryan, Reis De Jesus (Romero Jr 84), Yedigaryan, Grigoryan; Praznovsky
Not Used: Avagyan, Zelijkovic, Stojkovic, Antonic


UEFA Champions League
First Qualifying Round, First Leg
Republican Stadium, Yerevan, Armenia
Tuesday, July 10, 2018


(Edouard 45+2, Forrest 81, McGregor 90)

CELTIC kicked off their UEFA Champions League qualification campaign with a comfortable 3-0 victory over Alashkert at the Republican Stadium in the Armenian capital, Yerevan. Goals from Odsonne Edouard, James Forrest and Callum McGregor gave the Hoops the win and puts them in a commanding position to progress to the next round.

In the searing Armenian heat, the Hoops started on the front foot, with McGregor having the first chance, though his shot was saved by the Alashkert goalkeeper. And the ever-impressive Kieran Tierney was causing the home side problems down the right flank

Alashkert slowly began to work their way into the contest, and there were a couple of scares for the Celtic defence after 20 minutes when, first, Artak Dashyan’s effort was parried away by Craig Gordon, before a curling effort went wide of the post.

James Forrest fired a powerful shot just narrowly off target on the half-hour as the Hoops continued to go in search of an away goal, while both sets of players welcomed the stop in action for a water break. Then, after Alashkert tested Celtic on the counter-attack in the 38th minute, McGregor at the other end came close with a low drive.

Moussa Dembele’s chipped effort was blocked by the home keeper with a minute of the half remaining before his strike partner gave Celtic the lead in first-half added time. With the ball bobbing about in the box, Forrest’s effort was blocked but spun into the path of Odsonne Edouard, who coolly slotted the ball home with a first-time volley.

Brendan Rodgers’ side remained in control of proceedings throughout much of the second-half, restricting Alashkert to a number of ambitious long-range efforts which didn’t trouble Craig Gordon.

And with nine minutes of the match, Celtic doubled their lead. A corner was delivered to the far post, where Scott Sinclair managed to slide the ball back to Jack Hendry. He knocked it towards the six-yard box, and though his pass was blocked, it fell to James Forrest 10 yards out, and his precise right-footed shot landed in the back of the net.

The Hoops continued to go in search of more goals, and they got their reward in the last minute of the game. Forrest was the provider this time with some excellent play on the edge of the box, and when he slipped the ball to Callum McGregor, the midfielder fired home a low shot to give the Hoops a 3-0 first leg win.

CELTIC: Gordon; Hendry, Ajer, Simunovic; Brown; Forrest, McGregor, Ntcham (Kouassi 67), Tierney; Dembele (Sinclair 67), Edouard (Morgan 77).
Subs: Bain, Christie, Allan, Ralston.

ALASHKERT: Cancarevic, Yedigaryan, Voskanyan, Praznovsky, Daghbashyan, Grigoryan, Dashya, Yedigaryan, Sekulic, Nenadovic.
Subs: Avagyan, Zeljkovic, Stojkovic, Antonic, Manasyan, Simonyan, Romero

Celtic Knocked Out By Zenit St Petersburg …

UEFA Europa League
Round of 32, 2nd leg
Krestovsky Stadium, St Petersburg, Russia
Thursday, February 22, 2018

(Ivanovic 8, Kuzyaev 27, Kokorin 61)


(Zenit win 3-1 on aggregate)

ZENIT St Petersburg overturned a 1-0 loss to Celtic in Paradise last week to secure their place in the last 16 of the UEFA Europa League with a 3-0 win on the night in Russia.

Branislav Ivanovic opened the scoring early on for the Russian side and Daler Kuzyaev doubled the lead before the break. Zenit then put the game out of reach with a third goal from Aleksandr Kokorin as the Scottish champions’ European journey came to an end.

Brendan Rodgers fielded the same starting XI from the first leg last week for the return match in Russia, and Celtic kept Zenit at arm’s length for the first five minutes, passing the ball well in midfield. But the home side snatched lead inside 10 minutes when an unmarked Ivanovic bulleted home a header from a Leanardo Parades corner.

The Scottish champions continued to have the majority of the possession following the goal but were unable to create any real chances in the final third aside from a couple of low crosses into the box from Kieran Tierney.

The home side then doubled their lead with an attack that stemmed from a throw-in midway inside Celtic’s half. Anton Zabolotny laid the ball off to Daler Kuzyaev who cut inside from the left and unleashed a ferocious right-footed strike from distance which caught Dorus De Vries out and found the back of the net.

From there, Zenit continued to press Celtic and enjoyed more possession than they had in the early stages of the half. Celtic strung some passes together and Eboue Kouassi found Moussa Dembele with a ball inside the box, but an organised Zenit defence stifled the threat.

Brendan Rodgers made a half-time substitution, with Tom Rogic coming on for Eboue Kouassi, and the Australian midfielder wasted no time in introducing himself into the game. Having found some space on the edge of the box, Rogic took aim but his shot failed to test Andrei Lunev in the Zenit goal.

Celtic started the second half more aggressively as they went in search of a vital goal that would send them through to the last 16. Olivier Ntcham also had a shot early in the second half but he skewed his effort from 20 yards out wide of the mark.

Celtic’s bright start to the second half saw them begin to create the chances in the final third that had eluded them in the first. Forrest threatened the Russian side with his willingness to run at the defence and Kristoffer Ajer came close with a header from a Celtic corner, but his effort was wide of the mark.

Despite having fewer chances, Zenit then increased the lead when Ivanovic whipped the ball across goal towards the back post where Kokorin squeezed past Mikael Lustig to slide the ball home.

The Hoops were quick to respond with some attacking play of their own, and Forrest did brilliantly to skip past Kuzyaev out wide on the right before bursting down the wing and attempting to swing a cross into the box. The ball took a deflection and Ntcham reacted quickly to shoot from the edge of the penalty area, but his effort was saved by the Zenit keeper.

Scott Sinclair and Charly Musonda were introduced to the game in the second half and the pair linked up well to create a chance, but Sinclair’s resulting shot did not have enough power on it to trouble Lunev.

Celtic enjoyed more possession and were by far the busier side in attack in the closing stages, but Lunev was never really tested. Sinclair did well to slip Tierney in and the young full-back whipped a great ball across the face of goal, but it was cleared by the Zenit defence before any Celtic players could get on the end of it.

With Celtic’s European journey concluded for another season Brendan Rodgers’ side will now turn their full attention to domestic matters as they continue their pursuit of another treble, starting with Sunday’s trip to Pittodrie in the league.

ZENIT ST PETERSBURG (4-3-3) Lunev; Ivanovic (Smolnikov 87), Mammana, Criscito, Mevlja; Kranevitter, Rigoni (Driussi 84), Paredes; Kuzyaev, Kokorin, Zabolotny (Erokhin 75)
Not Used: Lodygin, Terentyev, Poloz, Zhirkov

CELTIC (3-5-1-1) De Vries; Lustig, Simunovic, Ajer; Forrest (Musonda 70), Kouassi (Rogic 45), Brown, Ntcham; Tierney; McGregor (Sinclair 62); Dembele
Not Used: Bain, Miller, Hendry, Edouard


Europa League last-32, second leg: Zenit St Petersburg v Celtic
Venue: Krestovsky Stadium, Saint Petersburg Date: Thursday 22 February Kick-off: 18:00 GMTCoverage: Live commentary on BBC Radio Scotland MW & DAB and live text on BBC Sport website……

Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers believes his side will need to replicate their “perfect game” from the first leg to overcome Zenit St Petersburg.Rodgers’ side hold a 1-0 advantage ahead of Thursday’s Europa League round-of-32 second leg in Russia.

Europa League Round Of 32 …….Febuary 16 th 2018….


UEFA Europa League
Round of 32, 1st leg
Celtic Park, Glasgow
Thursday, February 15, 2018

(McGregor 78)


CALLUM McGregor celebrated his 150th appearance for the Hoops with a stunning goal that gave Celtic a 1-0 win over Zenit St Petersburg in the UEFA Europa League. Brendan Rodgers’ side produced an impressive European performance and were worthy winners of this last 32 tie.

Indeed, the Russians were fortunate not to find themselves trailing by a considerable margin by the end of a first-half dominated by Celtic, but McGregor finally broke the deadlock in the second period with a fantastic goal on 78 minutes to hand Celtic a one-goal advantage going into the second leg.Brendan Rodgers made two changes from the side that defeated Partick Thistle 3-2 at the weekend, with McGregor and Eboue Kouassi starting ahead of Scott Sinclair and Charly Musonda.

And Celtic dominated possession from the off, wasting no time in attacking the visitors as they went in search of an early lead.  Kieran Tierney was lively in attack and managed to get a shot off inside the box which was deflected out for a corner. The full-back used his change of pace to good effect as he burst past Miha Mevlja down the left flank again and again, and delivered dangerous crosses into the Zenit box.

Olivier Ntcham also came close when he latched on to a pass from Moussa Dembele, but his shot went inches wide of the post.On the rare occasions that Zenit did have the ball, Celtic pressed them aggressively and the Russian side struggled to deal with the pressure. Kouassi won back possession deep inside Zenit’s half and quickly fed the ball to McGregor who worked enough space to get a shot off but it was saved by the Zenit keeper.

Zenit rarely threatened in the half but they did issue a warning of their attacking threat when they forced a brilliant save from Dorus De Vries with a low cross at the near post which the Hoops keeper saved before Tierney cleared the resulting header off the line.McGregor played a key role in much of Celtic’s attacking play and troubled Zenit with his willingness to run at their defence and link up with Dembele. And he had a golden opportunity midway through the half when Ntcham delivered a great ball into the box, but McGregor’s shot was deflected out for a corner.

And Dembele came within inches of scoring with 10 minutes remaining in the half but Tierney’s excellent low cross was just out of reach for both him and Kouassi.Celtic started the second half on the front foot and continued to heap pressure on Zenit. Opportunities soon followed with Tierney, initiating a counter-attack by firing a great diagonal ball across to Kouassi on the right. The Ivorian controlled well with his chest and immediately tried to slip the ball through to McGregor, but the Zenit goalkeeper rushed out to smoother the danger.

Kouassi himself had a shot at goal shortly afterwards and surprised the Zenit keeper with a thunderous effort from distance which he could only awkwardly push away.As the half unfolded, a stubborn Zenit defence were able to limit Celtic’s chances and Brendan Rodgers responded by bringing on Charly Mussonda for Kouassi.

The change had an almost immediate effect as the Hoops took the lead. Surrounded by Zent players out on the left touchline Musonda weaved space for himself and threaded the ball to Dembele, initiating a Celtic counter attack.A neat one-two down the left then saw Musonda loft the ball toward the back post where McGregor controlled the ball before smashing it across goal and into the roof of the net. It was a wonderful goal that capped a wonderful performance from the midfielder.

Celtic managed the remaining 12 minutes of the game with composure to record an impressive and well-deserved 1-0 win over a top European side. Now they go into next week’s second leg in Russia aiming to complete the job.

CELTIC: (3-5-1-1) De Vries; Lustig, Simunovic, Ajer; Forrest, Kouassi (Musonda 73), Brown, Ntcham, Tierney; McGregor; Dembele (Edouard 83).
Not Used: Bain, Miller, Hendry, Rogic, Sinclair

ZENIT ST PETERSBURG (4-3-3) Lunev; Mevlja, Mammana, Criscito, Smolnikov; Erokorin, Kuzyaev (Kranevitter 61), Paredes; Rigoni (Driussi 61), Kokorin, Zabolotny.
Not Used: Lodygin, Terentyev, Poloz, Zhirkov, Ivanovic


UEFA Champions League
Group B, Match Day Five
Parc des Princes, Paris
Wednesday, November 22, 2017

(Neymar 8, 21, Cavani 27, 78, Mbappe 34, Veratti 75, Alves 79)
(Dembele 1)

CELTIC were the first team to score against Paris Saint-Germain in the UEFA Champions League but the accolade proved to be in vain as the French side’s clinical finishing saw them finish the game with a six-goal advantage, winning 7-1 in the Parc des Princes.

Moussa Dembele handed Celtic a shock lead inside the first minute but goals from PSG’s world-class front three as well as contributions from Dani Alves and Marco Verratti ensured a comfortable win for the home side.

Celtic won a corner inside the first minute and Olivier Ntcham fired a low ball across the PSG box for Moussa Dembele, whose shot went beyond Alphonse Areola in the PSG goal for the opener. And the Hoops maintained their grip on the game with high-pressing and sharp passing which prevented the home side from settling into their stride.

A glimmer of individual quality from the £200million Brazilian forward, Neymar levelled the scoring just seven minutes later. And he added a second in the 21st minutes to give the home side the lead, both goals slotted in at the far post. The 25-year-old then turned provider minutes later when he headed the ball back across goal for Edinson Cavani to cushion it into the back of the net.

While Celtic continued to try and play their own game whenever they had possession, it was PSG who scored again before the break through Kylian Mbappe. And only a Craig Gordon save denied the 18-year-old his second of the night.

The Hoops started the second half in attacking fashion and wasted no time in creating a chance when Kieran Tierney swung a great ball into the box for Dembele but the PSG defence cleared the danger.
The home side continued to look a threat going forward though Celtic dealt well with the attacking threat. However, three goals in the space of six minutes gave PSG a margin of victory which was cruel to Brendan Rodgers’ side.

Cavani with his second of the night made it 5-1 before Dani Alves and Marco Verratti scored in quick succession. It was another tough night for the Hoops against the French side, but Celtic know that European football remains within their grasp as they look forward to a home match against Anderlecht early next month.

The immediate focus, however, must now turn to the League Cup final on Sunday where Celtic will face Motherwell at Hampden.

CELTIC (3-4-2-1) Gordon; Lustig (Bitton 12), Boyata, Simunovic; Tierney, Ntcham (Kouassi 68) Brown, Forrest; McGregor, Rogic; Dembele (Griffiths 75)
Not Used: De Vries , Armstrong, Roberts, Sinclair

PARIS SAINT-GERMAIN (4-3-3) Areola; Alves, Marquinhos, Silva, Kurzawa; Veratti (Lo Celso 75), Rabiot, Draxler (Pastore 65), Mbappe (Di Maria 75), Neymar, Cavani
Not Used: Trapp, Kimpembe, Meunier, Berchiche

Matchday 4

UEFA Champions League
Celtic Park, Glasgow
Tuesday, October 31, 2017

(McGregor 74)
(Coman 22, Javi Martinez 77)

DESPITE a tremendous performance, full of bravery, aggression and no little style, Celtic ended a pulsating UEFA Champions League encounter with Bayern Munich with no reward, going down to a narrow 2-1 defeat in Paradise.

The Hoops impressed in the first-half but they trailed at the interval after Kingsley Coman capitalised on the home side’s failure to deal with Sven Ulreich’s long clearance But Callum McGregor deservedly levelled for the Hoops with 16 minutes left on the clock, finding the net after excellent work from James Forrest, who ran the away side ragged all night with a wonderful display of wing-wizardry.

That set up a grandstand finish but it was the Germans who grabbed the winner when Javi Martinez headed in Coman’s cross, an undeserved outcome for Brendan Rodgers’ side who will take huge heart from a mature and spirited showing that proved they could mix it with the best in Europe.

Scott Brown was one of seven players restored to the side following Saturday’s draw with Kilmarnock, with Dedryck Boyata, Forrest, Stuart Armstrong, Scott Sinclair, McGregor and Moussa Dembele also coming back into the team.

On Hallowe’en, the home crowd served up their customary fearsome noise levels ahead of kick-off and the atmosphere soon reached red-hot levels in the Paradise caldron as the Hoops fashioned the first chance in the fifth minute.

Tierney showed terrific tenacity to drive forward down the right and move the ball on to to Forrest. He darted into the box before picking out the onrushing Armstrong, who had ghosted in at the far post, but the Scotland internationalist was unable to steer his shot on target.

Brendan Rodgers’ side, lining up with a back-three, were confident and purposeful in the opening exchanges, showing excellent composure on the ball as they enjoyed prolonged periods of possessions, despite the high pressing of the German side.

When the Hoops attacked, they did so with real pace and intensity, with the explosive Forrest particularly prominent, and he caused problems again in the 13th minute after collecting Armstrong’s return pass and cutting the ball from the byline, but the ball was hooked clear by the visitors.

Making his first UEFA Champions League start this season, Dembele looked hungry to make an impact and he did well to shrug off the attentions of Jerome Boateng and progress into the box, though he could only drag his final effort wide.

Bayern had been restricted to speculative long-range attempts from Arturo Vidal and David Alaba, but they almost found a way through in the 20th minute when Alaba and Coman combined down the left, but Boyata was on hand to make a vital interception.

Given Jupp Heynckes’ side had barely threatened, there was real frustration among the hosts when they took the lead after a defensive mix-up. From goalkeeper Ulreich’s long punt up the park, Coman broke clear and evaded Craig Gordon, who had raced from his goal, and the French internationalist picked his spot, despite the efforts of two backtracking Celtic defenders.

Coman did appear to handle the ball in the build-up but Celtic’s appeals to the officials were in vain.  Undeterred by this setback, the Hoops stuck to their game-plan and only a last-ditch tackle from Alaba prevented them from restoring parity as Dembele prepared to apply the finish to Armstrong’s return pass, following another slick attacking move.

Celtic continued to look threatening, forcing a series of corners and sending a number of dangerous deliveries into the box, with Lustig having a shot blocked from Armstrong’s free-kick – though Bayern did serve a warning towards the end of the half when Corentin Tolisso volleyed over.

Continuing where they left off in the first-half, the Scottish treble-winners were quickly back on the front foot after the restart, and Ulreich had to make a superb one-handed save to deny Armstrong after another enterprising burst from Forrest.

Nir Bitton also called Ulreich into action with a dipping free-kick, though this proved a more comfortable stop for the Bayern keeper. At the other end, Gordon saved from Alaba,
Both teams were going toe-to-toe in an enthralling contest.

James had a shot brilliantly blocked by Gordon and the outstanding Forrest had a shot deflected wide of the near post.As the Hoops faithful paid their traditional tribute to the Lisbon Lions in the 67th minute, their roars of encouragement galvanised the Celts into further offensive action and after good work from Tierney down the left, Forrest knocked the ball back into the mix, and it took a last-gasp tackle from Niklas Sule to thwart Dembele from connecting.

Finally, their pressure paid off. Forrest, unsurprisingly was to the fore, thrusting at the heart of the Bayern backline and spotting the run for McGregor, who steered a shot under Ulreich, sending Celtic Park into raptures.

Paradise was absolutely rocking in a wave of euphoria, but just three minutes later, the Bundesliga outfit ruthlessly restored their lead as Martinez headed home from Coman’s cross.

Back came the Bhoys, and Dembele shot over on the half-volley from Tierney’s delivery and, although they applied some late pressure, Bayern held firm to claim the three points. But the applause at the final whistle said it all. This had been a Celtic performance to be proud of.

CELTIC (3-4-2-1) Gordon; Lustig, Boyata, Bitton; Forrest, Brown, Armstrong (Griffiths 79), Tierney; Sinclair (Rogic 64), McGregor; Dembele
Not Used: de Vries, Gamboa, Hayes, Ntcham, Ajer

BAYERN MUNICH (4-2-3-1) Ulreich; Rafinha, Sule, Boateng, Alaba; Tolisso (Kimmich 83), Martinez; Robben (Thiago 90+3), Vidal (Rudy 59), Coman; James
Not Used: Starke, Hummels, Friedl, Wintzheimer



UEFA Champions League
Group B Matchday Three
Allianz Arena, Munich
Wednesday, October 18, 2017

(Muller 16, Kimmich 28, Hummels 50)


A CLINICAL Bayern Munich ensured a tough night for Celtic at the Allianz Arena, scoring three goals without reply to move three points clear of the Hoops in Group B, which is still topped by Paris Saint-Germain, who enjoyed a comfortable win over Anderlecht tonight.

Scott Brown returned from injury and started in the Celtic midfield behind Stuart Armstrong. With Jozo Simunovic ruled out, Mikael Lustig slotted into the centre of defence alongside Dedryck Boyata, with Cristian Gamboa at right-back.

Bayern Munich, now managed once again by their legendary coach, Jupp Heynckes. following Carlo Ancelotti’s dismissal, started the game in confident fashion, immediately causing the Hoops back-line problems, with Robert Lewandowski making threatening runs in behind the Celtic defence and Kingsley Coman racing down the left wing.

Thiago had the ball in the net following a Lewandowski cutback, but the officials ruled the ball was already out of play, but the home side soon got their opening goal on 16 minutes. Lewandowski’s header from eight yards out was superbly saved by Craig Gordon, but Thomas Muller was the first to react, firing the ball high into the net.

Bayern doubled the lead just before the half-hour mark when Coman got beyond Gamboa, and his cross back across goal found Joshua Kimmich who powered in a header to make it 2-0.

Celtic immediately looked for a way back into the game at the start of the second-half when Patrick Roberts created space for himself just inside the Bayern box and attempted to curl the ball into the far corner. But there seemed to be no way back for the Hoops when Mats Hummels headed home an Arjen Robben corner on 50 minutes to make it 3-0.

Brendan Rodgers’ side continued to search for an opening, though, and almost found it when Kieran Tierney muscled the ball off Kimmich on the byline, cut back and tried to squeeze the ball beyond Ulrich, but the Bayern keeper pounced on it at the second attempt.

Brendan Rodgers brought on Moussa Dembele and Tom Rogic in place of Griffiths and Armstrong, and Celtic began to create some opportunities while still having to combat several dangerous attacks from the home team.

Tierney had a 25-yard drive touched on to the post by Ulrich, while Scott Sinclair produced a superb finish late in the game, but his effort was ruled out for offside. And Craig Gordon was called upon to deny Muller his second of the night, blocking his point-blank header, the Celtic keeper having also previously denied Robben with a good save.

Celtic will face Bayern Munich at home in two weeks’ time, but the focus for the Hoops will now turn to this Saturday’s League Cup semi-final against Hibernian at Hampden.

CELTIC (4-2-3-1) Gordon; Tierney, Boyata, Lustig, Gamboa; Brown, Ntcham, Armstrong (Rogic 64), Sinclair, Roberts (Forrest 78); Griffiths (Dembele 64)
Subs: De Vries, Ajer, Bitton, McGregor,

BAYERN MUNICH (4-2-3-1) Ulreich; Kimmich (Rafinha 79), Boateng, Hummels, Alaba; Rudy, Thiago (Vidal 66), Robben, Muller, Coman (Rodriguez 77); Lewandowski
Subs: Starke, Sule, Tolisso, Friedl

UEFA Champions League
Group B, Matchday Two
Constant Vanden Stockstadion, Belgium Wednesday, September 27, 2017

(Griffiths 37, Roberts 49, Sinclair 90)

CELTIC produced a magical European night in Brussels with a dominant performance over Anderlecht, beating the Belgian champions 3- 0 to take all three points thanks to goals from Leigh Griffiths, Patrick Roberts and Scott Sinclair.

Griffiths opened the scoring late in the first- half before Roberts doubled Celtic’s lead just four minutes into the second-half. And Sinclair put the seal on a superb performance with a last-minute goal.

The hosts could not cope with Celtic’s free- flowing, attacking football and struggled to contain threats from all areas of the pitch, and throughout the second-half, Brendan Rodgers’ side carved open their opponents, always looking likely to extend their lead.
Olivier Ntcham returned to the Celtic starting XI in the only change to the team that dominated Saturday’s Glasgow derby at Ibrox.

The Frenchman, who scored in his last European away match for the Scottish treble- winners against FC Astana, replaced Stuart Armstrong in central midfield alongside captain Scott Brown.

After an opening half-hour or so, when Celtic enjoyed controlled possession, while the home side were content to sit in defensively, it was Ntcham who helped create the opening goal. His precise pass through the inside-left channel found the overlapping Kieran Tierney, and his low cross to the far post was finished superbly by Leigh Griffiths.

Anderlecht responded immediately, with their captain, Sofiane Hanni hitting a shot from the edge of the box which Craig Gordon saved comfortably. The home side went in search of an equaliser at the start of the second-half but were undone by Celtic’s high-pressing game.

Patrick Roberts dispossessed Olivier Deschacht on the edge of his area, and then, cutting on to his left foot, fired in a shot which took a deflection off substitute Serigne Mbodji and ended up in the net to make it 2-0 for the Hoops.

From that point on, Brendan Rodgers’ side controlled the game, showing a maturity in possession that has become a hallmark of the side.They had further chances to score, through Roberts, Griffiths and McGregor, while the Celtic defence dealt comfortably with any attacking threat from the home side. And Craig Gordon produced one superb save when a shot was fired on target, tipping the ball over the bar.

Celtic got further reward for a dominant display in the final minute when Ntcham intercepted a forward pass and threaded the ball through to Scott Sinclair, who surged into the box before finishing with aplomb.

The impressive victory – only Celtic’s second ever away win in the group stages of the UEFA Champions League – puts Brendan Rodgers’ side in a strong position in Group B ahead of a vital double-header against Bayern Munich as they aim to secure European football after Christmas.

CELTIC (4-3-2-1) Gordon; Lustig, Simunovic, Boyata, Tierney; Brown (Bitton 69), Ntcham, Rogic (McGregor 64); Sinclair, Roberts (Forrest 77); Griffiths.
Not Used: De Vries, Hayes, Armstrong, Dembele

ANDERLECHT (5-2-3) Boeckx; Chipciu, Spajic (Mbodji 43) Dendoncker, Deschacht (Stanciu 56), Appiah; Hanni, Gerkens, Trebel, Onyekuru, Teodorczyk.
Not Used: Sels, Bruno, Beric, Sowah, Harbaoui

UEFA Champions League
Group B, Matchday One
Celtic Park, Glasgow
Tuesday, September 12, 2017

(Neymar 19, Mbappe 34, Cavani 39, 85 Lustig 82)

CELTIC found it very tough in their opening UEFA Champions League group-stage match against an impressive Paris Saint-Germain side, who scored five goals without reply at Celtic Park to take all three points.

Neymar opened the scoring in the 19th minute after collecting a through pass and firing the ball beyond Crais Gordon. Striker Kylian Mbappe, on loan from Monaco, doubled the lead from close-range before Edinson Cavani converted a penalty to make it 3-0 at the break. Cavani scored again in the second-half after a Mikael Lustig own goal had put the French side four goals ahead.

Brendan Rodgers made three changes to the side which had swept aside Hamilton in the Scottish Premiership last Friday night, with Anthony Ralston making his first European start for the Hoops. The 18-year-old slotted into right-back in a defensive four alongside Mikael Lustig, Jozo Simunovic and Kieran Tierney. Striker Leigh Griffiths recovered from injury to lead the attack for Celtic.

Both teams started the game in search of an early goal and Celtic’s first opportunity fell to Olivier Ntcham in the ninth minute. The Frenchman had a shot on goal from 25 yards out but his low drive went past the Areola’s right-hand post.

However, it was Paris Saint-Germain who were enjoying the bulk of possession and looked dangerous whenever they surged forward. And it was their £200million striker, Neymar, who opened the scoring after 19 minutes.

Celtic thought they should have been given a free-kick when Dani Alves fouled Scott Sinclair just inside the PSG half, but the Italian referee waved play on, and the French side hit on the counter-attack. The ball was threaded through to the Brazilian striker, who got ahead of the Celtic defence and raced into the box before lifting the ball over Craig Gordon and into the net.

Celtic looked to respond, and following good play from Patrick Roberts, which earned his side a free-kick, Leigh Griffiths’ 35-yard effort was well-saved by Areola, who pushed the ball over for a corner.

PSG doubled their lead in the 34th minute with Kylian Mbappe finding a way past Craig Gordon. Verratti’s cross from the right was headed back across goal by Neymar, and after Cavani had missed his shot completely, 18-year-old Mbappe was there to fire home.

And things got worse for Celtic five minutes later when Jozo Simunovic was penalised for a challenge on Cavani inside the box. The Uruguayan striker converted the resulting penalty to make it 3-0 at half-time, despite a late Scott Sinclair in the half which brought out another good Areola save.

With Tom Rogic on at the start of the second-half for Stuart Armstrong, Celtic started the second half on the front foot as they looked to find a way back into the game, with Scott Sinclair looking dangerous whenever he got on the ball.

Anthony Ralston surged forward into the PSG area, but was eventually crowed out, while a Sinclair shot was blocked by Marquinhos at the edge of the area. PSG, meanwhile, continued to look dangerous when they attacked, and Neymar missed two chances to extend his side’s lead, while a Mbappe shot was blocked by Ralston inside the six-yard box.

However, the French side made it 4-0 with eight minutes remaining when substitute Julian Draxler’s low driving ball across the Celtic six-yard box deflected in off Mikael Lustig. Two minutes later Cavani’s diving header at the far post looped beyond Gordon and into the back of the net for the fifth and final goal of a very tough opening UEFA Champions League group-stage game.

CELTIC (4-2-3-1) Gordon; Ralston, Lustig, Simunovic, Tierney; Brown, Ntcham; Armstrong (Rogic 45), Roberts (Forrest 77), Sinclair; Griffiths (Edouard 68).
Not Used: De Vries, Bitton, Ajer, McGregor,

PARIS SAINT-GERMAIN (4-3-3) Areola; Alves, Marquinhos, Silva, Kurzawa; Veratti, Motta, Rabiot (Draxler 61); Mbappe (Lo Celso 83), Neymar, Cavani.
Not Used: Trapp, Kimpembe, Lucas, Meunier, Berchiche

UEFA Champions League play-off first-leg
Celtic Park, Glasgow
Wednesday, August 16, 2017

(Postnikov o.g. 32, Sinclair 42, 60, Forrest 79, Griffiths 88)

CELTIC produced one of the greatest European performances ever seen in Paradise as they completely outclassed FC Astana in a stunning 5-0 victory to leave them within touching distance of the UEFA Champions League group stages.

It was the perfect European display from Brendan Rodgers’ side as they balanced attacking verve alongside defensive diligence, controlled aggression and composure in possession – and a jubilant Celtic Park lapped it up as the Hoops took complete command of the play-off tie.

After Tom Rogic’s wonderful run, Evgeni Postnikov’s own goal gave the Hoops a 1-0 lead and Scott Sinclair’s cool finish put the Scottish treble-winners in charge at the break.

Sinclair bagged his brace and made it 3-0 on the hour mark, before James Forrest and Leigh Griffiths inflicted further punishment on the beleaguered visitors in the closing stages, leaving the Celts with an emphatic advantage ahead of next Tuesday’s second-leg in Kazkahstan.

Having come on for the final 30 minutes of Celtic’s 1-0 win over Partick Thistle last Friday night, Griffiths had recovered from a calf problem to lead the line for the Celts.

The inclusion of the Scotland internationalist was one of two changes to the team that saw off the Jags in last week’s Glasgow derby, with Rogic also coming into the starting XI. Callum McGregor and Jonny Hayes were the players to make way.

A huge crowd had turned out to back the Bhoys in Paradise, generating the usual incredible atmosphere on these special European occasions, and they were soon on their feet as Brendan Rodgers’ side fashioned two decent early opportunities
The first stemmed from Griffiths’ deadly dead-ball delivery.

Following a foul on James Forrest on the right, the striker swung the set-piece into the mix and Sinclair was first to the loose ball but was unable to steer it on target.Forrest had started brightly and, after Rogic had fed him on the right, he whipped in an early cross.

Griffiths met it perfectly but his header flashed inches wide, with goalkeeper Aleksandr Mokin rooted to his line.After that initial flurry of chances, the Hoops remained in control, probing for openings, while the visitors attempted to maintain compact.

It took them until the 22nd minute for them to test Craig Gordon, but the Celtic No.1 was equal to Serikzhan Muzhikov’s dipping drive from distance.

Celtic’s patience was finally rewarded just beyond the half-hour mark thanks to a moment of magic from Rogic. In almost a replica of his last-gasp winning goal in the Scottish Cup final, the Australian internationalist weaved his way into the box past several defenders, before lofting the ball over Mokin from an acute angle.

The ball was drifting towards the far post but defender Evgeni Postnikov’s outstretched boot got the last touch as it spun into the net. Cue bedlam.

Postnikov had an immediate chance to make amends as Astana immediately won a corner down the other end, but the big centre-half headed wide at the near post.

Instead, it was the Hoops who doubled their lead as half-time approached. Rogic’s pass deflected into the path of Sinclair, who beat the offside trap and retained his composure to find the far corner, despite Mokin’s best efforts.

As the second half got underway, Stanimir Stoilov’s side now had a greater onus to push forward in search of an away goal, which left greater gaps for Celtic to exploit on the counter, and Griffiths was narrowly flagged offside after being played in by Sinclair.

In the 60th minute, they found another way through. Bitton’s lofted pass was flicked on by Rogic for Griffiths. He slipped a pass through for Sinclair, who had timed his run perfectly, and the winger, once again, made no mistake.

Rogic had suffered a nasty clash of heads with Yuri Logvinenko in the build-up to the goal, which forced both players to leave the fray after several minutes of treatment, and the Celtic midfielder received a well-deserved rapturous reception as he departed after another crucial contribution on the big occasion, playing a part in all three goals. He was replaced by Callum McGregor.

It could have been even better moments later for the Bhoys as Griffiths found himself through on goal from Tierney’s long ball over the top, but the hit-man was unable to control his finish, slicing wide amid torrential conditions.

For all of Astana’s hustle and bustle, Celtic remained the more dangerous outfit, and the away side’s frustrations started to grow, with Tierney and Sinclair, in particular on the end of some reckless tackles.

Their anguish continued with 11 minutes left on the clock as Brendan Rodgers’ clinically added to their tally. Griffiths superbly controlled a long ball and cleverly supplied the overlapping Forrest, who finished with aplomb from a narrow angle.

Paradise was absolutely rocking, with Astana visibly deflated, and the noise levels were cranked up even more as Griffiths, incredibly, added number five in the closing stages, the 26-year-old slotting home via a deflection from the edge of the box, just reward for a magnificent performance in the lone striking role.

The final whistle sparked more celebrations as Brendan Rodgers and his players took a well-earned bow after a truly outstanding showing on the biggest stage.

CELTIC (4-2-3-1) Gordon; Lustig, Simunovic, Bitton, Tierney; Brown, Ntcham; Forrest (Armstrong 82), Rogic (McGregor 63) Sinclair; Griffiths
Not Used: De Vries, Benyu, Ajer, Ralston, Miller

FC ASTANA (4-4-1-1) Mokin; Shitov, Postnikov, Logvinenko (Beysebekov 65), Shomko; Twumasi, Maevski, Kleinheisler, Tomasov (Murtazayev 77); Muzhikov (Grahovac 82), Kabanaga
Not Used: Eric, Anicic, Tagybergen, Maliy.

UEFA Champions League, third qualifying round second-leg
Lerkendal Stadion, Trondheim
Wednesday, August 2, 2017

(Forrest 69)

Celtic win 1-0 on aggregate

JAMES Forrest was the hero as Celtic booked their place in the play-off round of the UEFA Champions League tonight following a hard-fought 1-0 win over Rosenborg in Norway.With 21 minutes left on the clock, the winger’s ferocious angled strike finally broke the deadlock in the tie, with the first-leg in Paradise finishing 0-0, and from that moment, the outcome of the contest never looked in doubt as the Hoops comfortably saw out the closing stages.

It was a courageous performance from Brendan Rodgers’ men who will now wait to see their pairing in the draw for the play-off which takes place on Friday.Erik Sviatchenko had handed the Bhoys a boost before kick-off by winning his fitness battle to take his place in the starting XI. He was one of three changes to the team that faced the Norwegians at Paradise last week, the Danish defender replacing Kristoffer Ajer, with Jonny Hayes and Callum McGregor also starting at the expense of Olivier Ntcham and Tom Rogic.

There was a full house in the Lerkendal Stadium and the home support created a good atmosphere as proceedings got underway. And it was Rosenborg who threatened first with an early corner but Sviatchenko dealt well with the danger, though.Despite returning to Hoops line-up, the Dane was forced to be substituted in the 25th minute following a knock in the centre circle, with Nir Bitton slotting in the centre-half position as a result.

Rosenborg’s Serbian winger Milan Jevtovic, on loan from Turkish side Antalyaspor, tested Gordon in the 15th minute, though his long-range strike was held comfortably by the Hoops stopper.With the game being played at a quick pace, it was the visitors who had the next effort ten minutes later. Kieran Tierney’s cut-back to James Forrest, who was leading the line for Celtic, forced Andre Hansen into a tremendous finger-tipped save.

The Bhoys began to step up their play, dictating possession and looking to carve out openings. They nearly did that in the 34th minute but Johan Bjordal came to Rosenborg’s rescue, blocking Hayes’ angled drive.Chances began to grow for the visitors and Tierney was next to have a pop at goal – following some good play with Forrest, the left-back’s effort sailed over the bar.As the half drew to a close both Scott Brown and Nicklas Bendtner tested the goalkeepers at either end but Hansen and Gordon saved with ease.

Rosenborg started the second-half stronger and came close to the opener in the 47th minute. Good link-up play between Bendtner and Yann-Erik De Lanlay had Gordon at full stretch but De Lanlay’s effort fell just wide of the right-hand post.As the game opened up, Tierney was next to come close to the game’s first goal. However, his effort on the break curled wide.The 57th minute saw the return of Leigh Griffiths following a spell on the sidelines. And the Scotland striker was involved in the action minutes later sending in a dangerous cross to Scott Sinclair but the winger couldn’t profit.

At the other end, Celtic had a lucky escape after captain Mike Jensen’s low and powerful shot brushed the side-netting in the 61st minute.The Hoops’ patience paid off eight minutes later, though, as Rosenborg fell behind. The Scottish treble-winners strung together a series of passes before Forrest rattled a shot off the underside of crossbar and past Hansen to gift his side that vital away goal.

That scoreline could have been doubled by Forrest in the 82nd minute but with only Hansen to beat the goalkeeper remained strong and the Rosenborg defence cleared.The away side came forward again, and following some delightful footwork from Rogic, Griffiths had his shot parried away. As the game reached its conclusion Celtic showed maturity and experience in defence and attack to see out the tie and deservedly head into the play-offs.

CELTIC (4-2-3-1): Gordon; Lustig, Simunovic, Sviatchenko (Bitton 25), Tierney; Brown, Armstrong (Rogic); Hayes (Griffiths 57), McGregor Sinclair; Forrestm

Not Used: de Vries, Gamboa, Kouassi, Ntcha
ROSENBORG (4-3-3): Hansen; Hedenstad, Bjordal, Skjelvik, Meling; Jensen, Konradsen, Midtsjo; Jevtovic (Helland 73), De Lanlay (Vilhjalmsson 73), Bendtner
Not Used: Ostbo, Rasmussen, Rashani, Gersbach, Lundemo

UEFA Champions League third qualifying round, first-leg
Celtic Park, Glasgow
Wednesday, July 26, 2017


CELTIC were held to a goal-less draw by Rosenborg on a frustrating night in Paradise, leaving the UEFA Champions League third qualifying round tie evenly poised ahead of next week’s second-leg in Norway. Despite dominating large swathes of the contest, the Hoops couldn’t find the net against the Norwegian title-winners to secure the lead they wanted to take to Trondheim.

But, Brendan Rodgers’ side, having not conceded an away goal, will still feel confident of earning a positive result in the away leg and progressing to the next round.With injuries to Dedryck Boyata and Erik Sviatchenko, Norwegian teenager Kristoffer Ajer made his first competitive start for the Hoops against his compatriots, partnering Jozo Simunovic in central defence.

Elsewhere, Stuart Armstrong was also restored to the starting XI in the only other change to the team who dispatched Linfield with ease 4-0 last week. He was part of a midfield triumvirate alongside new signing Olivier Ntcham and captain Scott Brown, who played his 84TH European match – a record for a Scottish player.

Up front, the Scottish treble-winners also went with an attacking trident, with James Forrest and Scott Sinclair operating on the flanks, and Tom Rogic stationed in the central position vacated by the suspended Leigh Griffiths and injured Moussa Dembele.Bossing possession, Celtic controlled the early exchanges, but it took them until the 10th minute to fashion their first opening. Ntcham picked out the run of Armstrong with a delicate ball over the top, and when the midfielder’s effort was blocked by Tore Reginiusssen, Rogic was unable to get the rebound under control.

A quickly-taken corner provided the next opportunity as Forrest saw a shot charged down at the edge of the box. Ajer then demonstrated his aerial prowess, heading over from the resultant set-piece. It was one-way traffic at this stage, with Brendan Rodgers’ side denying the visitors the chance to build any momentum with their aggression and work-rate. And some patient, probing play, Forrest fastened onto a driven ball into the box and had two shots blocked in quick succession.

At the midway point of the half, Rosenborg embarked on their first meaningful forward foray. Mike Jensen picked out Milan Jevtovic’s run in behind and, although the winger managed to evade Kiernan Tierney, Ajer was across quickly to avert the danger.Boosted by that, the Norwegian outfit briefly emerged from their defensive shell, Craig Gordon only being called into action once when pushing over a cross-shot.

As half-time approached, the Hoops resumed the ascendency but they were finding it tough to breach the tightly-packed Rosenborg rearguard, particularly without a focal point in attack.Scampering onto Sinclair’s pass, Tierney did provide some penetration when he dug out a cross from the byline, though Forrest was unable to profit in the middle.

The same pattern continued after the restart, with Celtic dictating proceedings but struggling to unlock the Rosenborg backline.Emboldened at the state of play, Kare Ingebrigtsen’s side became more adventurous, and Gordon had to make an excellent save to tip over Vegar Hedenstad’s free-kick from a narrow angle.

Forrest replied for the hosts, firing over from Armstrong’s corner, but then they had a huge let-off as Yann-Erik de Lanlay scooped over from point-blank range.Nicklas Bendtner was also thwarted by Gordon, and it wasn’t long before Brendan Rodgers made a switch, sending on Jonny Hayes for Ntcham, with the Irishman taking over the central attacking position, freeing Rogic up to move into his favoured No.10 role.
The tactical change offered Celtic fresh impetus, and Forrest was unfortunate to see his attempt flash wide of the far post after some nimble footwork in the box.

Rogic was becoming increasingly prominent and he finally found room to try his luck from distance, though he failed to find the target.At the other end, Bendtner was unable to connect with Jensen’s low delivery, before Armstrong saw his driven attempt parried by Andre Hansen, with the midfielder also curling a free-kick over. As the clock ticked down, the Bhoys launched some desperate attacks in search of a late winner, but it all proved in vain.

CELTIC (4-1-2-3) Gordon; Lustig, Simunovic, Armstrong, Tierney; Brown; Ntcham (Hayes 63), Armstrong; Forrest (Benyu 81), Rogic, Sinclair
Not Used: De Vries, Bitton, McGregor, Ralston, Kouassi

ROSENBORG (4-3-3) Hansen; Hedenstad, Reginiussen (Bjordal 65), Skjelvik, Meling; Midtsjo, Konradsen, Jensen; Jevtovic (Rashani 79) Bendtner, de Lanlay (Vilhjalmsson 80)
Not Used: Rasmussen, Gersbach, Ostbo, Lundemo

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

UEFA Champions League second qualifying round, second-leg
Celtic Park, Glasgow
Wednesday, July 19, 2017

(Sinclair 4, 54 Rogic 47, Armstrong 90+2)
Celtic win 6-0 on aggregate

SCOTT Sinclair bagged a brace as Celtic cruised into the UEFA Champions League third qualifying round with a 6-0 aggregate win over Linfield.
The winger’s goals book-ended Tom Rogic’s long-range strike, before substitute Stuart Armstrong lashed home at the death, as the Hoops recorded an emphatic 4-0 victory in Paradise on the back of a 2-0 success last week in Belfast.

Just like the first leg in Windsor Park, it was a dominant display from the Scottish treble-winners, who laid siege to the Linfield goal from the first whistle. Now Brendan Rodgers’ side can look forward to facing Norwegian champions Rosenborg in the next round of the competition after they saw off Dundalk in extra-time.

Olivier Ntcham made his competitive Celtic debut seven days after joining the club from Manchester City, having featured in last Saturday’s friendly against Olympique Lyonnais. His inclusion was one of three changes to the team who won 2-0 last week in the first-leg in Belfast. Callum McGregor and Moussa Dembele also came into the side, with Erik Sviatchenko, Stuart Armstrong and Leigh Griffiths dropping out.

And it didn’t take long for the new Bhoy to make a telling contribution as the Hoops made an early breakthrough. Taking aim from around 20 yards, Ntcham’s low shot was blocked by Mark Stafford’s boot but Sinclair fastened on to the loose ball and beat Roy Carroll from an acute angle.

It had been all Celtic from kick-off, with Ntcham firing wide and McGregor looping a header over from Lustig’s lofted pass as the onslaught continued on Carroll’s goal.Dembele was next to threaten from Kieran Tierney’s inviting cross but the striker was unable to steer his volley on target. And the Frenchman came even close from Sinclair’s corner when his thumping header cannoned off the head of a Linfield defender.

Sinclair looked like a man on a mission, driving at the visitors’ defence at every opportunity and giving right-back Chris Casement a torrid time. And from another one of the Englishman’s tricky runs, Dembele was off target from distance.There was little respite for David Healy’s men as, whenever they managed to get their foot on the ball, Celtic’s furious pressing allowed them to quickly retrieve possession.

This was underlined in the 28th minute, when tenacious play from Scott Brown and McGregor saw them steal the ball, presenting Rogic with a sight of goal, his low attempt fizzing inches past the post.
Brown was to the fore again as Brendan Rodgers’ side almost doubled their advantage on the break. Receiving a pass on the turn just inside in his own half, the skipper did brilliantly to flick the ball over Robert Garret and continue the counter. Rogic played in Sinclair, who tried to pick his spot but curled wide.

Another pinpoint pass from Rogic then gave Dembele a run on goal but he rolled his shot wide. Sinclair was the next beneficiary of Rogic’s creative craft but, again, Linfield were let off as the winger failed to find the target as he stole in at the far post.On the stroke of half-time, Rogic spurned a gilt-edged chance from Tierney’s cross but the Australian internationalist didn’t take long to achieve redemption.

Less than two minutes were on the clock in the second half when he picked up the ball around 30 yards from goal, took a touch and then bulleted a shot into the corner beyond Carroll.In the 54th minute, Sinclair bagged his brace to make it 3-0. Scampering into the box in search of a return pass, the ball broke back to the Englishman and he made no mistake.

James Forrest sent a dipping drive over from the angle of the box, before Sinclair came within inches of his hat-trick as his stunning strike from the edge of the area was superbly saved y Carroll who touched the ball on to the bar.With the result secured, the six-in-a-row champions made a series of substitutions, with Kundai Benyu coming on for his competitive bow. The Hoops had a number of further opportunities to add to their tally, with Carroll called into action on several occasions.

And then, just as the clock ticked down, Armstrong got off the mark for the new season, sweeping into the net after Rogic has wreaked havoc in the visitors’ rearguard with a mazy run into the box.

CELTIC (3-1-4-1-1) Gordon; Lustig, Simunovic, Tierney; Brown; Forrest (Hayes 67), McGregor, Ntcham (Armstrong 67), Sinclair; Rogic; Dembele
Not Used: De Vries, Bitton, Benyu, Sviatchenko, Kouassi

LINFIELD (4-5-1) Carroll; Casement, Stafford, Haughey, Quinn; Mitchell, Garrett (Millar 65),Mulgrew, Lowry, Smyth (Stewart 65); Waterworth (C. Stewart 74)
Not Used: , Robinson, Millar, Burns, Clarke, Deane


UEFA Champions League
Second Qualifying Round first leg
Windsor Park, Belfast
Friday, July 14, 2017

(Sinclair 16, Rogic 22)

CELTIC recorded a 2-0 victory over Linfield in the first leg of their UEFA Champions League second qualifying round tie on what proved to be a comfortable night in the Belfast rain for Brendan Rodgers’ side. Indeed, had it not been for the heroics of veteran goalkeeper, Roy Carroll, in the Linfield goal, the margin of victory for the Hoops could have been higher.

As it was, first-half goals from Scott Sinclair and Tom Rogic have put the Scottish champions in control of the tie ahead of the second leg at Celtic Park on Wednesday night.Within the first 60 seconds of the game starting, the Hoops signalled their attacking intent when Stuart Armstrong fired a shot on target from 25 yards out, and from then on it was a procession of Celtic attacks.

Tom Rogic had a left-foot effort which just curled over after 12 minutes before another Armstrong shot four minutes later was deflected wide for the first corner of the game, and it led to the opening goal.Griffiths delivered a ball into the box, and although it was headed to the far post, James Forrest lofted it back into the six-yard box where Scott Sinclair’s header took a deflection off Chris Casement and ended up in the Linfield net.

Carroll then produced two great saves to deny Sinclair a first-half hat-trick, but there was nothing he could do to prevent Rogic extending Celtic’s lead on 22 minutes. Again, the goal came from a corner. This time, Griffiths’ delivery was fired with pinpoint precision to the near post, and the Australian midfielder met the ball perfectly with his left foot to make it 2-0 for the Scottish champions.

Linfield’s only chance in the first 45 minutes came from Mark Haughey, who scooped a shot high and wide from eight yards out, but the half ended with Celtic in the ascendancy and laying siege to the Linfield goal.Celtic had the ball in the Linfield net within 60 seconds of the restart, but Leigh Griffiths was ruled offside after he’d latched on to a Rogic pass, while Armstrong tried his luck on the 49th minute from just outside the box, but his effort was saved by Carroll.

There was a moment of controversy in the 65th minute when Leigh Griffiths was inexplicably yellow-carded by the Spanish referee as he delayed taking a corner because of missiles being thrown at him by the Linfield fans, something which Griffiths endured again at subsequent corners, as did Jonny Hayes when he entered the fray.

Brendan Rodgers made a double substitute with 20 minutes remaining, Moussa Dembele replacing Griffiths and Hayes coming on for James Forrest, and the Irishman set up Rogic, though his right-foot shot went narrowly wide.And Hayes was again involved on 77 minutes, jinking down the right-hand side before delivering a ball into the box.

Dembele headed it down and into the path of Armstrong, whose powerful volley was well-saved by Carroll.And the Linfield goalkeeper produced two further saves before the end of the match to deny Mikael Lustig from adding to Celtic’s goal tally. But Brendan Rodgers’ side will be confident of completing the job on Wednesday night and progressing to the third qualifying round, where either Dundalk or Rosenborg await.

CELTIC (4-2-3-1): Gordon; Lustig, Simunovic, Sviatchenko, Tierney; Brown, Armstrong; Forrest (Hayes 70), Rogic, Sinclair; Griffiths (Dembele 69).
Subs: De Vries, Izaguirre, Bitton, McGregor, Kouassi.

LINFIELD (3-5-2): Carroll; Stafford, Haughey, Clarke (J.Stewart 53); Casement, Garrett, Mulgrew, Lowry, Quinn; Smyth, Waterworth.
Subs: Deane, Robinson, C.Stewart, Millae, Burns, Mitchell

UEFA Champions League – Group C 2016/17
# Team Pl W D L F A GD Pts
1 Barcelona 6 5 0 1 20 4 16 15
2 Manchester City 6 2 3 1 12 10 2 9
3 M’gladbach 6 1 2 3 5 12 -7 5
4 Celtic 6 0 3 3 5 16 -11 3
Last updated: December 6, 2016 10:21pm


UEFA Champions League
Tuesday, December 6, 2016
City of Manchester Stadium, Manchester

(Iheanachho 8)
(Roberts 4)

PATRICK Roberts returned to haunt his parent club Manchester City as Celtic produced a tremendous away performance to earn a full-deserved share of the spoils in their final UEFA Champions League match of the season.The 19-year-old broke the deadlock with a tricky run and finish inside the opening five minutes much to delight of the jubilant away fans.

Kelechi Iheanacho quickly cancelled that out for Pep Guardiola’s side with a rasping drive, but it was the Scottish champions who had the better chances to win the match as they secured a point to finish their group campaign with a flourish. Erik Sviatchenko was restored to the team in the only change from the team that prevailed in Saturday’s thrilling 4-3 victory over Motherwell.The Danish internationalist replaced Kolo Toure in the heart of the backline, with the experienced defender dropping to the bench

Fresh from scoring in the win over the Steelmen, teenager Roberts started for the Bhoys against his parent club on the right of an attacking trident that includes Moussa Dembele and James Forrest.Backed by their vocal away Celtic support, the Bhoys took the game to big-spending English side, pressing them high up the pitch and it quickly paid dividends. Dembele closed down goalkeeper Willy Caballero and his errant clearance was collected by Roberts. He fed Rogic who forced Caballero into a smart save.

And in the fourth minute, they stunned the home crowd by breaking the deadlock. Collecting the ball on the right, Roberts jinked his way past Gael Clichy and into the box before lashing into the far corner.It was a thoroughly-deserved lead but from their first foray forward, City showed their quality by levelling the match. Iheanacho was sent scampering through the middle and he finished ruthlessly beyond Craig Gordon. Celtic were almost undone by another through ball in the 11th minute as Pablo Zabaleta beat

the offside trap and crossed for Iheanacho who was less clinical on this occasion.
Undeterred by this flurry from the hosts, however, the Bhoys, with Scott Brown bossing proceedings in central midfield, continued their enterprising approach and a sublime pass from Stuart Armstrong put Dembele in the clear. His low effort was well saved by Caballero, though an incorrect offside flag would have ruled out a goal in any event.

As play swung from end to end, Jozo Simunovic had to make a timely tackle on Iheanacho before some wonderful wing-play for Forrest created a great opening for Dembele. Deft footwork from the Scotland internationalist saw him evade a host of defenders and he still had the composure to spot Dembele’s run. The striker’s first shot was stopped by Caballero and he was only able to send the rebound into the side-netting.

Dembele’s power and movement continued to cause problems for the home defence, and he brought another save, albeit a comfortable one, out of Caballero following Emilio Izaguirre’s inviting cross.At the other end, Gordon had to make a stunning reaction stop after Iheanacho had flicked on Bacary Sagna’s low delivery, and when the loose ball fell to Nolito, Izaguirre was on hand to blocking the Spaniard’s shot.

An entertaining, action-packed half ended in controversy as Celtic looked to be denied a cast-iron penalty. Roberts, in a repeat of his goal, left Clichy for dead and advance into the area where he was clearly hauled back by the Frenchman. None of the officials were interested, though, much to the disbelief of Mikael Lustig, who saw yellow for his protests.
Despite the understandable frustration at that decision, it couldn’t take the gloss of a mightily impressive first-half showing and Brendan Rodgers’ side looked to maintain that same tempo after the interval.

They were dealt an early blow when Forrest was soon forced from the fray with a muscular injury. Gary Mackay-Steven took his place to make his first appearance of the season.
After a shot lull in play, Celtic resumed the ascendency around the hour-mark. After Caballero had made an unconvincing attempt to collect Armstrong’s corner, Lustig lashed the ball back into the mix but no one could profit.

And it was the Swede who the next chance fell to. Fastening onto a lovely pass from Rogic, he skipped past Clichy but couldn’t control his final shot, before Rogic himself blasted over
Mackay-Steven, for all of his lack of match practice, had looked lively since his introduction and he had a shot saved after a slick interchange of passing.A rapid City breakaway culminated in Nolito putting the ball in the net but the linesman’s flag cut short their celebrations.

But back came the Bhoys, and it was them who carved out the clearer opportunities as the game entered its closing stages.Substitute Leigh Griffiths swept wide from Mackay-Steven’s pass. The roles were then reversed as Griffiths supplied the the former Dundee United man, who was thwarted by Caballero from an acute angle, with Celtic emerging with plenty of credit from a compelling contest.

CELTIC (4-2-3-1) Gordon; Lustig, Simunovic, Sviatchenko, Izaguirre; Brown; Rogic, Armstrong; Roberts, Dembele (Griffiths 73), Forrest (Mackay-Steven 50)
Subs: De Vries, Toure, Bitton, Gamboa, McGregor

MANCHESTER CITY (4-3-3) Caballero; Sagna, Maffeo (Navas 62), Adarabioyo, Clichy; Zabaleta, Fernando, Gundogan; Nolito, Iheanacho, Sane
Not Used: Gunn, Aguero, Stones, Otamendi, Tasende, Foden

UEFA Champions League – Group C 2016/17
# Team Pl W D L F A GD Pts
1 Barcelona 5 4 0 1 16 4 12 12
2 Manchester City 5 2 2 1 11 9 2 8
3 M’gladbach 5 1 2 2 5 8 -3 5
4 Celtic 5 0 2 3 4 15 -11 2
Last updated: November 26, 2016 12:39pm

UEFA Champions League
Celtic Park
Wednesday November 23, 2016
(Messi 24, 55 [pen])

A CLINICAL and ruthless showing from Barcelona cancelled Celtic’s hopes of UEFA Champions League football after Christmas as the Catalan giants ran out 2-0 winners at Paradise.The Bhoys went into the game needing a win to take qualification for the knockout stages from Group C down to the last game against Manchester City, but goals either side of half-time from Lionel Messi, one from open play and another from the penalty spot, put paid to the best attempts of a spirited Hoops side.

The final scoreline could have looked different had Moussa Dembele converted a header early in the second-half but the striker directed his effort straight at Marc-Andre ter Stegen, much to his disappointment.Borussia Monchengladbach’s 1-1 draw with Manchester City in the other Group C match confirmed Celtic’s position of fourth in the group, ending their participation in Europe for this season.

The prospect of facing Aberdeen in the Scottish League Cup final on Sunday will soon relieve the disappointment of defeat to Barcelona and their exit from Europe, however, as the Bhoys look to get their hands on the first piece of silverware up for grabs this season.
In contrast to the feeling at full-time, a sense of optimism permeated Celtic Park before kick-off as the home fans roared the Bhoys on to an impressive start, showcasing a desire to pass and move while still be alert at the back.

The visitors, for their part, started proceedings with characteristic patience but displayed their ability to pounce on the counter-attack, with Messi almost latching on to a clipped through-ball deep into the Celtic box before the playmaker sent a low shot wide inside the first 20 minutes.Celtic were then under pressure as the La Liga side began to shift through the gears, forcing Craig Gordon into his first save from their first corner, with the Hoops keeper reacting well at his near post to palm Andre Gomes’ flick behind.

Two minutes later Barca’s patience paid off and the Bhoys fell behind. The Catalan side strung together a series of passes before Neymar curled an expert ball over the Celts backline to Messi again, and this time the Argentinian made no mistake, rattling a shot first-time past Gordon at the near post.Celtic remained positive in the wake of conceding but Barcelona’s ability to read their passing intentions, while being lightening quick in attack, made it difficult to mount any concerted momentum. The Bhoys did have a great chance to draw level when Moussa Dembele cut on to his right 20 yards out and shot at goal but ter Stegen had the effort covered.

Barcelona’s clinical counter-attacks then looked to have doubled their advantage before half-time when Messi clipped a cross for Suarez in the box but Gordon made a stunning stop with his right hand to keep it 1-0 at the interval.The Hoops were forced into their first change at half-time as James Forrest replaced Scott Sinclair, who picked up a knock just minutes before the break. Their enthusiasm to claim an equaliser never abated, however, as a mazy run and shot from Callum McGregor signalled their intent as the game got back underway.

Dembele could have equalised moments later when Forrest picked the striker out in the middle with a perfect cross, but he directed his header straight into the arms of ter Stegen.
Punishment from Barcelona was swift when a penalty was awarded to the visitors just a minute later at the other end after Emilio Izaguirre was adjudged to have fouled Suarez in the box. Messi stepped up and slotted home from 12 yards to make it 2-0.

Barca’s two-goal cushion allowed the visitors to take their foot off the gas, while Celtic brought on Nir Bitton and Patrick Roberts for Tom Rogic and McGregor as they sought a way back into the game.The referee was then under serious pressure to send off Neymar after the Brazilian had previously been booked for an off the ball push on Lustig before going in strong on the defender again after he evaded the attacker’s challenge. Play was waved on, however, incensing the home support.

The forward was then replaced by Arda Turan, and he further frustrated the Celtic fans by taking the better part of a minute to leave the pitch.Belief in getting a goal was still evident among the Celts players, however, who, to their credit, never stopped running, but Barca’s class was equally obvious, with a neat flick from Messi to avoid a lunging challenge from Scott Brown at the touchline encapsulating their ability.

The La Liga side could have clinched their third of the night as the game approached its conclusion, but Suarez hit the post after a trademark run and pass from Messi.
The result leaves Celtic bottom of their group with one game left but with no hope of qualifying for the Europa League by clinching third place, even with a win over Manchester City in the final game, due to Borussia Monchengladbach’s superior head-to-head with the Scottish champions and the German side’s 1-1 draw with City.

Sunday’s clash with Aberdeen in the Scottish League Cup final will now consume the Bhoys’ attentions as they look to capture the first silverware of the season at Hampden and continue their fine domestic form.
CELTIC (4-1-2-3) Gordon; Lustig, Simunovic, Sviatchenko, Izaguirre; Brown; Armstrong, Rogic (Bitton 64); McGregor (Roberts 71), Dembele, Sinclair (Forrest 46).
Not used: De Vries, Toure, Gamboa, Henderson
BARCELONA: (4-3-3) ter Stegen; Roberto, Mascherano, Pique (Marlon72), Alba (Digne 65); Rakitic, Busquets, Gomes; Messi, Suarez, Neymar (Turan 76).
Not used: Cillessen, Suarez, Rafinha, Alcacer

UEFA Champions League – Group C 2016/17
# Team Pl W D L F A GD Pts
1 Barcelona 4 3 0 1 14 4 10 9
2 Manchester City 4 2 1 1 10 8 2 7
3 M’gladbach 4 1 1 2 4 7 -3 4
4 Celtic 4 0 2 2 4 13 -9 2
Last updated: November 3, 2016 6:20pm


UEFA Champions League
Tuesday, November 1, 2016
(Stindl 32)
(Dembele pen. 76)

MOUSSA Dembele’s late penalty secured a share of the spoils for Celtic against Borussia Monchengladbach in Germany to keep their UEFA Champions League hopes alive.
The striker was fouled by Julian Korb in the box as he raced on to a pass in the box. And after referee Manuel De Sousa produced the red card for the Borussia player, the Celtic striker picked himself up and calmly sent goalkeeper Yann Sommer the wrong way from the spot.

The Hoops had earlier trailed to Lars Stindl’s first-half volley but they had also come close themselves to opening the scoring when Scott Sinclair struck the post with a curling shot.
And in the closing stages, they almost capitalised on their numerical advantage and recorded a famous victory when substitute Callum McGregor spurned a late chance.
However, the draw, which leaves Brendan Rodgers’ side on two points in Group C means there is still a mathematical possibility of them reaching the knockout stages of the competition.

Cristian Gamboa came into the starting XI in place of Jozo Simunovic as Brendan Rodgers made one change from the team that triumphed against Aberdeen on Saturday. That switch saw Mikael Lustig move across into central defence alongside Erik Sviatchenko, with Gamboa taking over the Swede’s place at right-back.In front of a capacity crowd in the impressive Borussia-Park, the home side made the early running, forcing a number of corners, and Emilio Izaguirre was forced to make a vital block to thwart the lively Thorgan Hazard as he pulled the trigger.

But the Hoops survived this opening spell and gradually grew into the game as they started to stroke the ball around the park and probe for openings.As the Bhoys began to push further forward, however, the German side were able showcase their counter-attacking threat, and Gordon has to race from his line and block Tobias Strobl’s shot after he had raced on to a return pass.But it was the Scottish champions who came the closest to the opening goal just beyond the midway point of the half as Scott Sinclair curled a shot off the inside of the post from 18 yards, with Sommer rooted to the spot. Unfortunately, for Celtic the ball span to safety and into the grateful arms of Sommer.

The Hoops’ pressing game was also beginning to have an impact on proceedings and Dembele looked to be harshly penalised for a foul as Tom Rogic prepared to bear down on the boxBut just as Celtic were enjoying their most productive period of the game, they were clinically punished at other end as Borussia broke the deadlock. Racing clear down the right Hazard dug out a cross from the byline and it dropped perfectly for Stindl who hammered home a volley from close-range, leaving Gordon with no chance.

That was a severe setback for Brendan Rodgers’ men but they responded by producing the best move of the match to slice through the home defence. After a series of one-touch passes, Dembele had several options as he approached the edge of the box. He elected to pick out Forrest who went down under Stindl’s challenge inside the area, but the referee was unmoved.Celtic continued to play with enterprise after the interval and only some diligent defending from the hosts prevented Armstrong from playing in Sinclair after James Forrest’s incisive pass.

But as the game opened up, Stindl, Fabian Johnson and Christoph Kramer spurned good chances forAndre Schubert’s side to double the lead.Sinclair had a shot charged down for the Bhoys after being played in by Dembele and then the visitors had a lucky escape when Hahn struck the post.But with game remaining at 1-0, Celtic were still a force to be reckoned with and the ever-dangerous Dembele stung Sommer’s palms with a ferocious shot. And with 15 minutes left on the clock, a compelling contest took another dramatic twist. Dembele was sent tumbling in the box by Korb. The referee sent off the full-back and Dembele took full advantage from the spot.

And as the clock ticked down, it was the Hoops who came closest to securing maximum reward as McGregor was supplied by Patrick Roberts in the box, but he couldn’t find the target from a wonderful position.As the final whistle blew, however, the great ovation from the travelling support was an indicator of the courageous performance from the Scottish champions, whose hopes of European football after Christmas remain intact.

CELTIC (4-1-2-3) Gordon; Gamboa (Henderson 85), Lustig, Sviatchenko, Izaguirre; Brown; Armstrong, Rogic (McGregor 69); Forrest (Roberts 60), Dembele, Sinclair
Not Used: Bitton, Ciftci, Boyata, de Vries

BORUSSIA MONCHENGLADBACH (4-1-3-2) Sommer; Korb, Strobl, Vestergaard, Elvedi; Kramer; Johnson, Stindl, Wendt; Hazard (Herrmann 70), Hahn
Not Used: Sippel, Dahoud, Schulz, Hofmann, Jantschke


UEFA Champions League
Celtic Park, Glasgow
Wednesday, October 19, 2016

(Stindl 57, Hahn 77)

SECOND-HALF goals from Lars Stindl and Andre Hahn consigned Celtic to a 2-0 home UEFA Champions League defeat to Borussia Monchengladbach, denting the Hoops’ hopes of extending their European adventure beyond Christmas.Stindl fired in the opening goal 12 minutes following the restart after Kolo Toure had been dispossessed on the byline and Hahn sealed the victory for the visitors after capitalising on another defensive error from the Bhoys.

After that there was no way back for Brendan Rodgers’ side, who will be targeting redemption in the second match of the double-header over in Gladbach in two weeks.Brendan Rodgers made four changes to the Celtic team that started in Saturday’s 2-0 win over Motherwell, with Mikael Lustig, Toure, Nir Bitton and Tom Rogic all coming back into the side at the expense of Cristian Gamboa, Jozo Simunovic, Liam Henderson and Stuart Armstrong. And that meant the Hoops went with the same starting XI that earned a share of the spoils in the six-goal home thriller against Manchester City at the end of last month.

Amid another thunderous atmosphere in Paradise, the match began at a frenzied pace, with both teams pressing furiously all over the pitch.
Celtic made their first foray forward inside the first two minutes when Moussa Dembele picked out the run of Scott Sinclair but the winger’s low shot from an acute angle was smothered by goalkeeper Yann Sommer.But the visitors, lining up in an adventurous formation, were also looking dangerous and Toure had to make a timely challenge on striker Andre Hahn as he bore down on goal following an incisive pass from Lars Stindl.

Some wonderful closing down from the Hoops earned them a free-kick around 30 yards from goal and also saw Christoph Kramer collect a yellow card. Bitton took the free-kick and, although his low shot looked to be heading wide, Sommer made sure it went beyond the far post.Play was flowing from end to end, and the next sight of goal came Borussia’s way. Left-back Oscar Wendt picked up the ball on the left and teed-up Ibrahima Traore, whose whipped shot was brilliantly saved by Craig Gordon at his far post.

Celtic’s No.1 had to be at his best again in the 27th minute to parrying a ferocious drive from Jonas Hofmann as Andre Schubert’s side showed just why they had been such a consistent force in the Bundesliga over recent years, moving the ball around the pitch with pace and precision.And after the Hoops rearguard had misjudged a long ball over the top, Gordon was once more called into action, pushing Stindl’s drive over the bar after the frontman had been played in by elusive Stindl.

Toure was to fore as Celtic had to survive some sustained periods of pressure and it was the 35-year-old’s alertness that prevented Tobias Strobl getting a clear run on goal.Brendan Rodgers’ side were doing their upmost to gain supremacy but they were finding it hard to unlock the Borussia backline. That was until 60 seconds before the break when a sublime pass from Rogic sent Sinclair scampering into the box. The winger elected to shoot from an acute angle but he couldn’t keep his effort down.

Celtic started the second-half with more poise and purpose, enjoying more prolonged periods of possession – and the openings started to follow. Lustig’s cross from the right was headed wide by Sinclair and the same player also fastened onto Dembele’s pass but the chance fizzled out as a host of Monchengladbach defenders scrambled back.
Just as the home side looked to be establishing an element a control, the German side broke the deadlock in the 57th minute. Attempting to shepherd the ball out for a goa-kick, Toure was dispossessed by Hahn, whose interception dropped invitingly for Stindl, who lashed the ball under Gordon.

The Scottish champions tried to muster a rapid response, with Bitton drilling wide after a clever pass from Rogic, though Sviatchenko had also to make a brilliant last-ditch challenge on Hahn moments earlier.Roared on by the home crowd, Celtic battled forward in their quest to find a way back into the match, and Rogic saw a shot deflected narrowly wide the edge of the box.

Within an eight-minute period, Callum McGregor, Patrick Roberts and Leigh Griffiths were introduced by Brendan Rodgers to add some impetus to the Hoops attack.But instead it was the visitors who doubled their lead. Toure’s pass was intercepted by Stindl. Hahn picked up the pieces, raced in on goal and found the net with a rising shot. And try as they might, Celtic couldn’t salvage anything from the contest, with focus now turning towards Sunday’s Glasgow derby showdown in the League Cup semi-final at Hampden.

CELTIC (4-2-3-1) Gordon; Lustig, Toure, Sviatchenko, Tierney; Bitton (McGregor 63), Brown, Forrest (Roberts 73), Rogic (Griffiths 71), Sinclair; Dembele
Not Used: De Vries, Izaguirre, Simunovic, Armstrong

BORUSSIA MONCHENGLADBACH (4-2-3-1) Sommer; Korb, Vestergaard, Elvedi, Wendt; Kramer, Strobl; Traore (Schulz 86), Stindl, Hofmann; Hahn (Herrmann 90)
Not Used: Sippel, Dahoud, Sow, Jantschke, Rutten

UEFA Champions League – Group C 2016/17

# Team Pl W D L F A GD Pts
1 Barcelona 2 2 0 0 9 1 8 6
2 Manchester City 2 1 1 0 7 3 4 4
3 Celtic 2 0 1 1 3 10 -7 1
4 M’gladbach 2 0 0 2 1 6 -5 0
Last updated: October 5, 2016 12:39pm


UEFA Champions League Matchday Two
Celtic Park
Wednesday September 28

(Dembele 3, 46 Tierney 20)
(Fernandinho 12, Sterling 28, Nolito 55)

AN incredible night of drama, goals and passion at Celtic Park saw the Hoops share the spoils by Manchester City as the teams played out a sensational six-goal thriller in the UEFA Champions League.With a display of relentless energy and excellent composure in front of goal, Celtic took the lead three times in the game, twice in the first-half and once less than a minute into the second-half, but they were pegged back every time by Pep Guardiola’s City side, who failed to win for the first time under their Catalan manager.

The plaudits must go to Brendan Rodgers’ Bhoys, whose determination, bravery and impressive football, spurred on by a typically vociferous home crowd, gave everyone at Paradise a night to remember, none more so than young Kieran Tierney, who scored Celtic’s second goal on his 50th appearance for the club.The result now sets the Celts up for a mouthwatering encounter with Borussia Monchengladbach in the next round of games after the Hoops leapfrogged the German side into third place in Group C.

Swirling rain engulfed Celtic Park as the game got underway under the floodlights of Paradise, but it was the Hoops who were quickly smothering their hosts as they pinned City back from the first whistle.The quick start caught the visitors unaware and a cheap foul given away deep in their own half after just three minutes gave Celtic the chance to open the scoring, which they grabbed with both hands.

Scott Sinclair stood over the set-piece but he checked his run-up to the ball, with the Celts attacking line darting into the box. James Forrest cleverly held his run to stay onside, however, and supplied a deft, half-volleyed cross into the box, which Erik Sviatchenko headed on to the chest of Dembele with the ball then evading Claudio Bravo in the City goal.Celtic Park erupted and the Bhoys almost went two in front moments later when Kolo Toure swivelled in the box and brought out a fine save from Bravo.

The frantic action spilled from end to end as Tom Rogic saw another Celtic shot blocked, but City soon restored parity after 12 minutes when they profited from a deflected Aleksandar Kolarov shot that found the feet of Fernandinho through a mass of bodies in the Celtic penalty area. The Brazilian midfielder controlled the ball and slotted it calmly past Craig Gordon.There was seemingly nothing that could hold the Bhoys back, however, and after weathering a brief spell of pressure from Pep Guardiola’s side, the Hoops stormed back into the lead in emphatic fashion.

Nir Bitton broke up a City attack deep in his own half and carried the ball forward, coolly evading a sliding challenge before threading a pass into space for Rogic, who had made the run ahead.The Australian glided towards the 18-yard line before looking up to find Tierney’s run into the box. His weighted pass for the full-back was perfect for the 19-year-old to hit it first-time and he showed no hesitation in doing so, powering a left-footed shot off the out-stretched foot of Raheem Sterling and past Bravo.

The young full-back raced away in joyous celebration as he toasted his 50th appearance for the Scottish champions with a fine goal.Celtic were pegged back yet again less than 10 minutes later, however, as a dramatic first-half rampaged on, with Raheem Sterling’s composed turn past Tierney and finish beyond Gordon levelling the tie before the half-hour mark.However, the Hoops continued to carve out chances, with Rogic in stunning form in the centre of the pitch, helping to create opportunities for his team-mates but the home side couldn’t find the net again before the interval.

Just seconds into the second-half, however, they did score their third goal of the night and it came courtesy of an outstanding piece of skill from Dembele. In their first attack from the restart, Celtic pushed forward down the left, with the quick feet of Bitton freeing up space for Tierney to cross.The full-back’s centre skimmed through the legs of Kolarov to the waiting Dembele, who knocked the ball up in the air with his left thigh, before spinning back on to it with his right boot in mid-air to curl a shot into the corner of the net.

The strike was just rewards for the energy and passion Celtic had shown from the first minute but their lead failed to last yet again when Nolito equalised on 55 minutes, following up to fire home after Craig Gordon had denied Sergio Aguero to make it 3-3.Both sets of supporters and players were then afforded a rare moment of respite, as the ratio of goalmouth chances for each side dipped as both teams set up for the final third of the match.

The enthralling football still raged on as the teams fought out an intriguing battle that moved from box-to-box. The final 10 minutes saw the Hoops introduce Patrick Roberts to the action in place of James Forrest, whose tireless running of the right flank encapsulated Celtic’s commitment.City dominated the final moments of the match, though, as they sought to steal all three points, but as news of Barcelona’s 2-1 advantage over Borussia Monchengladbach filtered through the stands, the Celtic support got to their feet to push the Bhoys over the line and help them secure a vital and thoroughly deserved point to move them up to third place in the group.

CELTIC (4-2-3-1): Gordon; Lustig, Toure, Sviatchenko, Tierney; Bitton (Griffiths 84), Brown; Forrest (Roberts 80), Rogic (Armstrong 57), Sinclair; Dembele.
Not used: De Vries, Simunovic, Gamboa, McGregor

MANCHESTER CITY (4-1-4-1) Bravo; Zabaleta, Otamendi, Kolarov, Clichy (Stones73); Fernandinho; Sterling, Gungogan, Silva, Nolito (Fernando 76); Aguero.
Not used: Caballero, Sagna, Navas, Sane, Iheanacho



UEFA Champions League

Camp Nou, Barcelona
Tuesday September 13, 2016

(Messi 3, 27, 60, Neymar 50, Iniesta 59, Suarez 75, 87)

CELTIC’S Champions League group-stage campaign got off to a nightmare start as they were dealt a harsh lesson by a Lionel Messi-inspired Barcelona in a 7-0 loss at the Camp Nou.

The Argentinean attacker was in fantastic form and scored a first-half double before sealing his hat-trick after the break as Luis Enrique’s side flexed their creative muscles.

Neymar’s stunning free-kick put the game out of reach of Celtic early in the second-half before substitute Andres Iniesta made it 4-0 with an magnificent volley before the hour mark. Messi then sealed his hat-trick a minute later with another textbook Barcelona goal before Luis Suarez made it 6-0 to the La Liga champions with a skilful turn and shot inside six yards.

Celtic’s only real sight of goal on a difficult night came midway through the first-half when they were awarded a penalty after Moussa Dembele was felled by Marc-Andre ter Stegen but the French striker had his shot from the spot saved.

There were little other signs of positivity for the Bhoys on an evening where they were made to defend for nearly 90 minutes against arguably the best club side in the world and Suarez’s second of the night with just three minutes left was a real body blow for the Scottish champions, who will now look to their next fixture in the group against Manchester City at home to reignite their campaign.

CELTIC (5-4-1) De Vries; Gamboa, Lustig, Toure, Sviatchenko (O’Connell 68), Tierney; Roberts (Armstrong 68), Brown, Bitton (McGregor 76), Sinclair; Dembele
Not used: Gordon, Izaguirre, Rogic, Forrest

BARCELONA (4-3-3) ter Stegen; Roberto, Pique, Umtiti, Alba; Rakatic (Iniesta 46), Busquets (Rafinha 60), Gomes; Messi, Suarez, Neymar
Not used: Cillessen, Turan, Mascherano, Alcacer, Digne


Well our fate has been sealed Manchester city , Barcelona and borussia monchengladbach,a tough group compared to a few others , our old foe Barcelona once again  came out the hat , it seems our paths keep crossing…

I certainly wouldn’t fear this group Barcelona have been conquered before , and man city haven’t shone in the competition recent years,Borussia Monchengladbach hold the most misteek for me and a German opponent will always be a difficult task…

it’s a group Celtic could have success , most will believe it will be us and our German opponents fighting it out for 3 rd place but our home ties are certainly winnable if parkhead can be turned into a fortress again , no matter what happens it’s good to be back in the champions league after a 3 yr absence..

The money around the 25 to 30 million mark will set us up for this season ahead and keep us well ahead of our opponents domestically , Brendan Rodgers deserves a huge part of the fund for getting us their to invest in players , it would only be a fitting reward for the gaffer if the board came out and offered Him the money to spend rather than him going cap in hand to the board…..

It’s  going to be s fine season ahead and now with champions league football it’s all hands on deck , are we ready yeah I think so , the stadium is rocking again and with players like Roberts and Sinclair running the wings feeding wee Leigh griffiths theirs goals a plenty to look forward too HH BHOYS the fun starts here ……

Celtic are drawn with Manchester City, Barcelona and Borussia Monchengladbach.

Full group stage draw
Group A: Paris St-Germain (France), Arsenal (England), Basel (Switzerland), Ludogorets (Bulgaria)

Group B: Benfica (Portugal), Napoli (Italy), Dynamo Kiev (Ukraine), Besiktas (Turkey).

Group C: Barcelona (Spain), Manchester City (England), Borussia Monchengladbach (Germany), Celtic (Scotland).

Group D: Bayern Munich (Germany), Atletico Madrid (Spain), PSV Eindhoven (Netherlands), Rostov (Russia).

Group E: CSKA Moscow (Russia), Bayer Leverkusen (Germany), Tottenham (England), Monaco (France)

Group F: Real Madrid (Spain), Borussia Dortmund (Germany), Sporting Lisbon (Portugal), Legia Warsaw (Poland)

Group G: Leicester City (England), Porto (Portugal), Club Brugge (Belgium), FC Copenhagen (Denmark)

Group H: Juventus (Italy), Sevilla (Spain), Lyon (France), Dinamo Zagreb (Croatia)

Key dates

13-14 September – First round of group matches
6-7 December – Final round of group matches

14-15/21-22 February – Round of 16, first leg

7-8/14-15 March – Round of 16, second leg

11-12 April – Quarter-finals, first leg

18-19 April – Quarter-finals, second leg

2-3 May – Semi-finals, first leg

9-10 May – Semi-finals, second leg

3 June – Final (Cardiff)


UEFA Champions League
Play-off round, second leg
Turner Stadium, Be’er Sheva, Israel
Tuesday, August 23, 2016

(Sahar 21, Hoban 48)
(Celtic win 5-4 on aggregate)

THERE was a sense of jubilation as well as relief as Celtic reached the group stages of the UEFA Champions League for the first time in three years with a 5-4 aggregate win over Hapoel Be’er Sheva.
Despite a 2-0 defeat in Israel, Brendan Rodgers’ side resisted intense pressure from the home side to win the tie and progress to the next round of the tournament.

Now the Hoops can look forward to the draw for the group stages of the competition, which takes place this Thursday afternoon.
It was a tough evening for the Scottish champions, but over the two legs the Hoops deserved to triumph, with the 5-2 victory at Celtic Park proving crucial, and the players and fans in the Turner Stadium celebrated the success.

It was a nervy start to the game for both sides, although Hapoel Be’er Sheva were taking the game to the Hoops, and it was the home side who got their first break of the game after 14 minutes when Saidy Janko was adjudged to have fouled Davidzada in the box, with the Dutch referee pointing to the spot.

It looked to have been a harsh decision, with replays suggesting the challenge was outside the box, but the decision was not to be reversed. Maharan Radi stepped up and fired the spot-kick goalwards, but it was saved by Craig Gordon.However, Celtic’s relief was short-lived as, just two minutes after coming on as a substitute for Lucio Maranhao, who had been injured, headed the home side into the lead on 21 mintues.

Scott Sinclair was Celtic’s most dangerous player in the first-half but the Hoops didn’t create many clear-cut chances to test David Goresh in the Be’er Sheva goal, with a Leigh Griffiths shot from the edge of the box on target but gathered by the Israeli keeper.
Tom Rogic replaced James Forrest at the start of the second-half, but just three minutes after the re-start, Hapoel Be’er Sheva doubled their lead.

A cross into the box led to a mix-up between Craig Gordon and Saidy Janko, with the ball breaking to Ovidiu Hoban, who bundled it into the net from a couple of yards out.That second goal galvanised the home crowd and drove Be’er Sheva on in search of a third goal which would put them through to the group stages of the competition.

On 56 minutes, Leigh Griffiths was replaced by Moussa Dembele, and just minutes later the Frenchman had Celtic’s best chance when he cut inside from the left and from the edge of the box curled a shot that went just inches wide of Goresh’s left-hand post.And four minutes later, Sinclair and Dembele were denied by some desperate defending from the home side.

Hapoel Be’er Sheva’s attacks became increasingly frantic while Celtic remained resolute in defence under heavy home pressure. And after what felt like the longest ever four minutes, the final whistle signalled Celtic’s success. UEFA Champions League group-stage football is back in Paradise!

CELTIC: Gordon; Janko, Lustig, Toure, Tierney; Brown, Bitton, McGregor (Svietchenko 65); Forrest (Rogic 46), Griffiths (Dembele 56), Sinclair.
Subs:: De Vries, Izaguirre, Armstrong, Roberts.

HAPOEL BE’ER SHEVA: Goresh, Bitton, Vitor (Shabtay 75), Tzedek, Radi, Nwakaeme, Hoban, Davidzada, Maranhao (Sahar 19), Melikson (Buzaglo 34), Ogu.
Subs: Halmov, Ohayon, Taha,

UEFA Champions League
Play-off first-leg
Wednesday August 17, 2016
Celtic Park

(Rogic 9, Griffiths 39, 45, Dembele 73, Brown 86)
(Maranhao 55, Mellikson 57)

CELTIC will head into next week’s UEFA Champions League play-off second leg with Hapoel Be’er Sheva with a three-goal advantage after they overcame the Israeli side 5-2 in an enthralling play-off first-leg clash at Paradise.

Three goals in a scintillating first 45 minutes from Brendan Rodgers’ team looked to have put the tie firmly in the Hoops’ control after Tom Rogic found the net inside 10 minutes before Leigh Griffiths rattled in a quick-fire double before half-time.

However, two goals in two minutes after the restart from the visitors reduced Celtic’s advantage but a pin-point header from substitute Moussa Dembele gave the Bhoys a two-goal cushion before captain Scott Brown re-established the three-goal advantage with a volley into the net with just five minutes left.

The skipper’s strike marked an incredible conclusion to a dramatic contest and has Celtic in pole position to qualify for the group stages.After a rousing reception to the official UEFA Champions League anthem at Paradise before kick-off, Celtic set about the task of getting in front in the tie and it took them just over eight minutes to do so after an impressive start to the game.

Brown was first to try his luck with a powerful shot from the left of the box but David Goresh in the Be’er Sheva goal did well to tip the effort wide. There was nothing he could do about Celtic’s opener, however, after Griffiths picked out the run of Sinclair with a delightful chipped pass into the winger’s path.

Goresh came out to meet the forward and wiped him out with a thumping challenge. The ball broke to Rogic, who curved a left-footed shot past the Be’er Sheva goalkeeper and his stranded defence into the empty net.Paradise erupted and willed the Bhoys on for another goal while Goresh was booked for his challenge on Sinclair.

The anticipated response from Be’er Sheva after conceding so early saw the visitors attempt to pass their way through the Celtic midfield, but Kolo Toure was a rock at the heart of the defence, with the Ivorian centre-half claiming every high ball and putting his body in front of any hint of a shot from Barak Bakhar’s side.

The 35-year-old was also majestic going forward, breaking free from defence into midfield at will and with purpose, and it was from one such run that the Bhoys doubled their lead just before half-time. Toure strode forward confidently, dancing past challenges before feeding the ball to Sinclair, who, in turn, found James Forrest out wide.

The winger delivered an excellent cross to the back post where Griffiths arrived like a bolt of lightning to power an unstoppable header into the net.A brilliant first-half was then made even better when Griffiths curled a sensational free-kick from the right corner of the box into the top corner of Goresh’s net to put the Bhoys thoroughly, and deservedly, in charge at half-time.

However, Celtic’s lead then dissolved in the space of two minutes in the second-half when first Lucio Maranhao lashed a left-footed shot past Craig Gordon at the near post to make it 3-1, before captain, Maor Melikson smashed a first-time shot low beyond the out-stretched hand of Gordon.

Conceding two goals in two minutes shocked the Bhoys and they made a double switch in the wake of the goals, withdrawing Callum McGregor and Mikael Lustig for Nir Bitton and Saidy Janko. Brendan Rodgers then made his final play to extend Celtic’s slender lead by switching Rogic with Dembele with 20 minutes left.

And the Hoops forward took only two minutes to make an impact, heading home a Griffiths corner to make it 4-2. The forward looked in the mood for more as he fired another effort off the side netting but Be’er Sheva didn’t wilt, with the quick reactions of Gordon responsible for stopping Maharan Radi’s goal-bound header.

It was Celtic who would have the final say, however, with Hoops captain Brown restoring the Scottish champions’ three-goal advantage with an angled volley from the edge of the box with five minutes left. And they almost grabbed a sixth goal when Scott Sinclair curged through on goal, but he was denied by GoreshThe Bhoys had to play through an agonising four minutes of injury-time as the Paradise faithful watched the clock countdown but the Hoops held on to their lead confidently to head into next Tuesday’s return leg in control of the tie.

CELTIC (4-2-3-1) Gordon; Lustig (Janko 63), Toure, O’Connell, Tierney; Brown, McGregor (Bitton 60); Forrest, Rogic (Dembele70), Sinclair; Griffiths.
Not used: Fasan, Christie, Sviatchenko, Henderson

HAPOEL BE’ER SHEVA (5-4-1) Goresh; Bitton, Hoban (Buzaglo 79), Taha, Tzedek, Davidzada; Melikson, Radi (Broun 85), Ogu, Nwakaeme; Maranhao (Sahar 67).
Not used: Haimov, Turjman, Ohayon, Shabtai


UEFA Champions League
Second Qualifying Round, second-leg
Celtic Park, Glasgow
Wednesday, July 20, 2016

(Lustig 23, Griffiths 25, Roberts 29)
(Celtic win 3-1 on aggregate)

CELTIC cruised into the UEFA Champions League third qualifying round after sweeping aside Lincoln Red Imps 3-0 in Paradise to complete a 3-1 aggregate victory.
All the damage was done in the first-half as the Hoops ran riot, determined to atone for last week’s shock defeat in Gibraltar.Mikael Lustig broke the deadlock before Leigh Griffiths opened his account for the season with a trademark fizzing long-range strike. Fittingly, the best goal of the evening came from the outstanding Patrick Roberts, who finished with style after a one-two with Callum McGregor.

Brendan Rodgers’ side will now meet FC Astana in the next round, with the first-leg taking place in Kazakhstan next week. Attack was the message from the manager as Celtic lined up in a fluid 3-5-2 formation in front of a huge home crowd, with Roberts and James Forrest deployed on the flanks in place of Tom Rogic and Ryan Christie to provide natural width.
Lustig made a competitive return to action to partner Erik Sviatchenko and Kieran Tierney in defence, while McGregor and Stuart Armstrong came into the midfield following their impressive displays in the weekend’s 2-1 friendly win over VfL Wolfsburg. Saidy Janko, Efe Ambrose and Nir Bitton were the others to drop out.

From the first whistle, Celtic poured forward with purpose, pace and intensity as they immediately pinned the visitors back deep in their own area. In the opening minutes, Roberts had a shot blocked in the box and Griffiths slid the ball across goal, forcing Jospeh Chipolina to knock the ball behind for a corner. Moussa Dembele was next to threaten as he prodded the ball goalwards after Armstrong had got a touch to Forrest’s cross.
And in the 10th minute, Celtic looked to have been presented with a golden chance to break the deadlock when Armstrong was fouled by Ryan Casciaro as he burst into the box, leading referee Bartosz Frankowski to point to the spot. It looked a definite penalty but after consulting with his linesman, he awarded a free-kick on the edge of the box instead, which Griffiths blasted over.

The onslaught continued – Armstrong had a rasping drive saved by Raul Navas and then McGregor saw his deflected drive cannon off the bar with Navas beaten. McGregor came close yet again when he got a toe to Tierney’s cutback but Navas came to his side’s rescue with a superb reaction save. Roberts was terrorising the Lincoln defence, particularly left-back Joseph Chipolina, and frustration got the better of the defender when he took out the English youngster with a crunching tackle, earning him a yellow card. From the resulting free-kick, Celtic finally broke Lincoln’s resistance. Armstrong swung a cross into the mix and after it had ricocheted around the penalty box, the loose ball fell to Lustig, who finished with precision.

A sublime piece of skill from Roberts gave Dembele a sight of goal but Bernardo Lopes got in the way of his shot as Celtic refused to take their foot of the gas.And goal number two swiftly arrived. Roberts was again involved, darting down the right and feeding Griffiths, who cut inside before rilfling beyond Navas. The Scottish champions were rampant now as they scored their third goal in the space of six minutes – and it was the best yet. Roberts left several Lincoln players for dead, collected a return pass from McGregor and then slotted into the far corner. The hardworking Dembele almost added a fourth before the break after collecting Lustig’s cutback, wriggling clear and steering a shot on target but Navas managed to claw the ball away.

The Gibraltar side had barely ventured forward in the opening 45 minutes, but they caused a scare four minutes after the restart when Lee Cascario almost capitalised on a defensive mix-up to reach a long ball over the top ahead of Sviatchenko and Craig Gordon, but the striker could only steer his shot wide. Celtic, while enjoying plenty of possession, weren’t operating at the same tempo as the first half. As a result openings weren’t as plentiful, though Dembele was unlucky after wriggling clear in the box and seeing his final effort deflected into Navas’ arms. Some credit should be apportioned to Lincoln, however, who responded to being ripped apart with real spirit, committing more men forward and stringing some passes together without ever seriously troubling Gordon.

Midway through the half, the Bhoys suddenly sprang back into life as they created a flurry of chances. Griffiths headed wide from Lustig’s perfectly-weighted ball over the top, Dembele drove wide from an acute angle and the same player was then unable to beat Navas after being supplied by Roberts. As the game entered its closing stages, the home side should have inflicted further punishment on Lincoln, with Griffiths coming closest when he was denied by Navas after racing through on goal. But all that ultimately mattered was that Celtic had maintained their Champions League dream for this season.

CELTIC (3-5-2) Gordon; Lustig, Sviatchenko,Tierney (Ajer 59); Roberts, Brown, McGregor, Armstrong, Forrest (Izaguirre 61); Dembele (Ciftci 76), Griffiths
Not Used: Fasan, Christie, Rogic, Janko

LINCOLN RED IMPS (5-4-1) Navas; Garcia, R. Casciaro, R. Chipolina, Bernardo Silva, J. Chipolina; Walker (Livramento 90) Patino, Calderon (Bardon 90), K. Casciaro; L. Casciaro (Cabrera 90) Not Used: Soler, Torrilla, Rojas, K.Chipolina,


UEFA Champions League second qualifying round
Victoria Stadium, Gibraltar
Tuesday, July 12, 2016

(L. Casciaro 48)


CELTIC were left stunned in Gibraltar after Lee Casciaro’s early second-half goal gave Lincoln Red Imps a shock 1-0 win over the Scottish champions.

The Hoops dominated possession and hit the bar twice through Leigh Griffiths but they now head into the second-leg next week in Paradise having to overcome an unexpected one-goal deficit to reach the third qualifying round.

Brendan Rodgers made just the one change to the team that started against Maribor three days ago, with Tom Rogic coming in for the injured Stefan Johansen as the manager switched to a 4-2-3-1 formation.

The match settled into a predicable pattern straight from the kick-off as Celtic dominated possession and the home side sat in and defended in depth, leaving Lee Casciaro with the unenviable position of lone striker.

For all the Hoops’ control of the ball in the early stages, however, they failed to test Raul Navas in the Lincoln goal, with the sticky artificial surface not aiding matters.

Ryan Christie dragged a shot well wide from distance and Leigh Griffiths made two incisive runs down the right, but there were no takers for his inviting crosses.

This was proving the story of the first-half for the Scottish champions as they failed to capitalise on several promising positions.

And the first shot on target came from the home side on a rare foray forward as winger Liam Walker cut in from the right and pulled the trigger, but Craig Gordon was well placed at his near post to make a comfortable save.

Moussa Dembele did have the ball in the net in the 32nd minute when he headed home Scott Brown’s free-kick but the referee disallowed the goal for a foul on Navas. It looked a harsh decision.

After collecting a return pass from Christie, Rogic did find the target but it lacked power to trouble Navas as Celtic continude to probe for openings.

Dembele was becoming a greater threat and he brought out a smart save from Navas with a fierce shot from the edge of the box after some good close control. The young striker, celebrating his 20th birthday today, came close again as half-time approached when he darted into the box but this time he couldn’t direct his shot on target.

Griffiths flashed a shot into Navas’ arms as Celtic upped the tempo as the second half got underway, but three minutes after the restart they were stunned as Lincoln took the lead. From an innocuous long ball, Lee Casciaro managed to evade the attentions of Efe Ambrose and his miss-hit shot bobbled over Gordon to send the home crowd into delirium.

Antonio Calderon almost doubled the lead moments later but his curling shot crept narrowly over, while Walker and Yeray Patino also flashed in efforts as the Hoops regrouped after the shock of falling behind.

Just before the hour-mark, the Bhoys were within inches of levelling the match as Janko burst into the box from the right and the cut the ball back into the box. The ball dropped for Griffiths, whose shot deflected on to the underside of the bar before being headed behind.

Brendan Rodgers then made a double change, sending on Stuart Armstrong and James Forrest for Rogic and Christie. And the two subs combined in the 70th minute, with Forrest picking out Armstrong in the middle but the midfielder couldn’t keep his shot down.

Griffiths, by now playing through the middle, came agonisingly close to an equaliser 12 minutes from time. Fouled on the edge of the area, he picked himself up and took the resultant free-kick but saw his thumping drive cannon off the bar. Nir Bitton was unable to convert the rebound.

Celtic were now piling on the pressure – Sviatchenko headed wide from a corner and Kieran Tierney saw a shot blocked in the box falling Armstrong’s lay-off.

Nadir Ciftci had also been introduced to the fray in place for Dembele and the striker was denied by an outstanding save from Navas as the game entered its closing stages. Tierney picked out the Turkish striker in the box and his header looked destined for the far corner until Navas’ acrobatic intervention.

Despite some desperate late attacks, the visitors couldn’t fashion a goal, with Ciftci coming closest with another header following Janko’s delivery as the final whistle sparked huge celebrations from the Lincoln players and the home crowd.

CELTIC (4-2-3-1) Gordon; Janko, Ambrose, Sviatchenko, Tierney; Brown, Bitton; Griffiths, Rogic (Armstrong 57), Christie (Forrest 57); Dembele (Ciftci 74)
Not Used: Fasan, Lustig, McGregor, Roberts

LINCOLN RED IMPS (5-4-1) Navas; Garcia, Casciaro, R. Chipolina, Morgardo, J. Chipolina; Walker (Bardon 87), Patino (G.Chipolina 90 +4), Calderon, K. Casciaro; L. Casciaro (Cabrera 74)
Not Used: Soler,Rojas, Amaro

Europa League – Group A 2015/16
# Team Pl W D L F A GD Pts
1 Molde 6 3 2 1 10 7 3 11
2 Fenerbahce 6 2 3 1 7 6 1 9
3 Ajax 6 1 4 1 6 6 0 7
4 Celtic 6 0 3 3 8 12 -4 3


UEFA Europa League
Sukru Saracoglu, Istanbul
Thursday, December 10, 2015

(Markovic 39’)
(Commons 75’)

A PIN-POINT header from second-half substitute Kris Commons saw Celtic finish their UEFA Europa League campaign with a 1-1 draw away to Fenerbahce.The Hoops attacker was only seconds on the pitch when he broke into the box and stooped to direct Mikael Lustig’s clipped cross from the right beyond Fabiano to level the tie after Lazar Markovic had put the home side in front just before half-time.

Fenerbahce had gone down to 10 men minutes before Commons’ introduction when Diego was shown a straight red card for kicking out at Stefan Johansen but the Celts couldn’t capitalise on their numerical advantage to find the winner.The result did end their Europa League campaign on a positive note, however, and they will look to build on the resilient showing in Istanbul for next season.

Ronny Deila made just two changes to his team for the match following the Bhoys’ last outing, with Scott Allan winning his first start and Nadir Ciftci replacing Leigh Griffiths up front.A deafening atmosphere heralded the teams as Celtic started the match and they were soon on the back foot. Good interplay on the edge of the Hoops penalty area allowed Alper Potuk to sprint into the box and crack a shot at goal inside the opening minutes, which Craig Gordon got the slightest of touches to, sending it on to the woodwork and away to safety.

The game had a frenetic feel to it in the early stages with the Bhoys guilty of giving away a series of fouls, the worst of which came from Jozo Simunovic, who was booked after he clattered into Gokhan Gonul near the left touchline.Fenerbahce were expansive in their play and varied their approach, using their pace on the wings to stretch the Bhoys but Gordon was equal to their deliveries from the flanks.

Celtic soon gained their composure and created a golden opportunity to take the lead when Nir Bitton picked out the run of Cifti into the area but the back-tracking Abdoulaye Ba came to the rescue of his team with a well-timed challenge on the Turkish striker.Fenerbahce then reasserted their dominance for a spell, with Diego pulling the strings outside the box. The tricky Brazilian brought out a brilliant stop from Gordon when he hit a squiggling effort from distance and the Hoops keeper was alert again to stop Souza on the rebound, but the Bhoys soon found themselves behind after a clinical counter-attack from the home team shortly before half-time.

Possession was lost high up the pitch and Potuk broke forward into Celtic territory where he chipped a ball over Johansen for Markovic to run on to.
The midfielder beat the Norwegian for pace and as Gordon came out to meet him, the ball took a horrible bounce through the keeper’s legs, allowing Markovic to convert from a tight angle, despite the best efforts of Johansen, Simunovic and Dedryck Boyata on the line.

The goal came at a bad time for Celtic, with only minutes to spare until the interval but they responded positively and almost equalised through Lustig’s deflected shot but the Swede’s half-volley just skimmed the post.
Fenerbahce went straight back on the attack from the restart with their high pressing choking Celtic’s midfield play.Fernandao, who’d been largely quiet in the first-half, began to show intent and used a good burst of pace to latch on to a long pass as he bore down on goal but Gordon was quick off his line to gather at the striker’s feet.

The home side kept the ball well as they did in the first half but Celtic’s defence were quick in the tackle with Kieran Tierney particularly decisive on a number of occasions.The game was then flipped on its head when Diego was shown a straight red card for a petulant kick at Johansen after Bitton had robbed him of possession, reducing Fenerbahce to 10 men just after James Forrest had replaced Stuart Armstrong for the Hoops with under 30 minutes left.

The home team remained in the ascendancy but that changed with the introduction of Commons, who came on for Scott Allan with 15 minutes left, and took only seconds to get involved in the action when he got an accurate header on the end of Lustig’s chipped cut-back to level the match.
It was a brilliant and instant impact from the sub who came on alongside Tom Rogic as part of a double switch, with the Australian replacing Johansen, and gave the Celts the momentum going into the closing stages.

The Hoops could have been awarded a penalty when the ball struck Gonul’s hand in the area but claims were waved away and Fenerbahce held firm, stemming the flow of Celtic’s attacks with numbers in the box and saw out the match with a draw enough to see them progress to the knockout stages alongside Molde.

CELTIC (4-2-3-1) Gordon; Lustig, Boyata, Simunovic, Tierney; Johansen (Rogic 74), Bitton; McGregor, Allan (Commons 74, Armstrong (Forrest 63); CiftciNot used: Bailly, Izaguirre, Ambrose, Mackay-Steven

FENERBAHCE (4-2-3-1) Fabiano; Gonul, Ba, Alves, Kaldrum; Souza, Topal; Markovic (Tufan 83), Diego (sent-off 67), Potuk; Fernandao (Erkin 86)
Not used: Demirel, Zeybek, Ozbayrakli, Kadlec, Civele

Europa League – Group A 2015/16
# Team Pl W D L F A GD Pts
1 Molde 5 3 1 1 9 6 3 10
2 Fenerbache 5 2 2 1 6 5 1 8
3 Ajax 5 1 3 1 5 5 0 6
4 Celtic 5 0 2 3 7 11 -4 2

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

images (1)

UEFA Europa League
Celtic Park, Glasgow
Thursday, November 26, 2015

(McGregor 3)
(Milik 21, Cerny 88)

CELTIC’S ambitions of reaching the UEFA Europa League knockout stages came to a cruel end against Ajax tonight in Paradise as a late goal from substitute Vaclav Cerny consigned them to a 2-1 defeat. The Hoops were handed a dream start by Callum McGregor in the third minute when he slotted home from 20 yards.Arkadiusz Milik cancelled that out with a close-range finish in the first half, but the Scottish champions were undeterred, playing with purpose, determination and no little flair, and they fashioned a number of decent chances to restore their lead.McGregor struck the bar and Griffiths was denied by Jasper Cillessen when through on goal as Ronny Deila’s side finished strongly. But they were caught on the counter when pushing for a winner by Cerny to put an end to their European hopes for the current campaign.McGregor made his start since the League Cup win over Raith Rovers over two months ago as the manager reshuffled his pack in light of a number of suspensions and injuries.

The 22-year-old was restored to the midfield in place of the injured Scott Brown as the Hoops boss made three changes to the team that drew with Kilmarnock at the weekend.
Kieran Tierney and Gary Mackay-Steven also come into the starting XI in place of the suspended Nir Bitton and Emilio Izaguirre, who was named among the substitutes. Charlie Mulgrew also took his place on the bench after a long period on the treatment table.It only took three minutes for McGregor to make his mark and vindicate his selection. Collecting a pass from Mackay-Steven in the inside left channel, he cut inside on to his right foot and curled a shot into the far corner beyond Cillessen.It was the perfect start from the Hoops, and Griffiths got his first sight of goal in the seventh minute from 25 yards, forcing Cillessen into a save with a low shot. Backed by a boisterous home support and filled with renewed belief, Celtic were moving the ball around with pace and poise and causing their opponents problems, looking confident, despite the tactical alterations and changes in personnel.Ajax, for all their usual possession, weren’t threatening Craig Gordon, who was being well-protected by those in front of him

He was eventually called into action in the 20th minute when Lasse Schone was picked out by Nemanja Gudelj from a free-kick but his cross-shot was smothered by the goalkeeper at the near post.However, Frank de Boer’s side restored parity quickly after in somewhat fortuitous fashion. Schone’s shot took a wicked deflection and fell kindly for Viktor Fischer in the box. His effort was saved by Gordon but the rebound looped over Celtic’s No.1 and was hooked into the net by Milik James Forrest responded with a darting run and shot that was gathered by Cillessen, before the lively Amin Younes curled over at the other end after being supplied by Davy Klaassan.McGregor was taken out by Mike van der Hoorn, but he managed to get the ball away to Tierney on the left. His precise pass picked out Griffiths in the box, the striker lashing a shot into the side-netting.

Tierney was becoming more prominent and another inviting low delivery from the left-back had the Ajax defence scrambling to deal with the danger.Griffiths’ pace had been causing van der Hoorn consternation and the hit-man appeared to be fouled by the defender after fastening on to a long pass over the top.He stayed on his feet, however, and some good strength from the frontman saw him get a shot away but he it lacked sufficient power to trouble Cillessen.And the Bhoys cut open the visitors once again on the stroke of half-time after a slick midfield move. Armstrong cruised past one player and then found Griffiths on the right. His early cross was met by Rogic, whose first-time effort was saved by Cillessen on the line. Applauded off at the interval, Celtic continued where they had left off after the restart, with some intricate passages of play going forward and tremendous tackling from Tierney, in particular, keeping them on the front foot.

Griffiths continued to be a menace, always looking to run in behind. Having been picked out by Rogic, now operating further forward in his more traditional No.10 role, he flashed a speculative shot well wide.However, it took until the 65th minute for the Hoops to register another attempt on target, with Forrest collecting a return pass from Griffiths and bringing out a save from Cillessen at his near post.Mulgrew then made his long-awaited return from injury, replacing Rogic, and he nearly witnessed a goal moments after his introduction as McGregor’s deflected drive cannoned off the top of the bar with Cillessen beaten.Scott Allan also entered the fray and he immediately demonstrated his creative qualities, sending a sublime pass through for Griffiths with his first touch, but Cillessen came to the rescue of the away side, diverting the shot wide.

Roared on by the Hoops faithful, Celtic were finishing strongly and Jozo Simunovic was unlucky not to see his header back across goal from McGregor’s corner not finish up in the back of the net.Forrest had also continued his impressive form, giving Kenny Tete a torrid time once he switched to the left flank. A late challenge from the Ajax player on Forrest on the byline saw Armstrong deliver a pinpoint free-kick to the back post, with Mulgrew heading narrowly over.Griffiths came close again after Armstrong had picked him out in the box, but a deflection took the sting out of his final effort and Cillessen was able to make the save. Although Younes did strike the post with a curling shot, Celtic were team looking most likely to find a winner, but a swift counter-attack proved their undoing.

Allan was dispossessed on the edge of the box following a corner and that allowed Milik to pick out substitute Cerny, who raced in on goal and swept home.To compound Celtic’s misery, Mulgrew had to leave for the closing minutes, meaning Ronny Deila’s side had to play out the closing minutes with 10 men.As they committed men forward in desperation, Ajax had chances to add to their tally, which would have been cruel on Bhoys, who deserved more reward for their sterling efforts.

CELTIC (4-1-2-3) Gordon; Lustig, Boyata, Simunovic, Tierney (Izaguirre 78); Rogic (Mulgrew 66); McGregor, Armstrong; Forrest, Griffiths, Mackay-Steven (Allan 71)
Not Used: Bailly, Ambrose, Stokes, Ciftci

AJAX (4-2-1-3) Cillessen; Tete, Van der Hoorn (Sanogo 80), Riedewald, Dijks; Schone (van de Beek 72) Gudelj; Klaassen; Fischer (Cerny 68) Milik, Younes
Not Used: Boer, van Rhijn, Heitinga, Viergever

Group A

Clubs P W D L F A +/- Pts
Molde FK Molde FK 4 3 1 0 9 4 5 10
Fenerbahçe SK Fenerbahçe SK 4 1 2 1 4 5 -1 5
AFC Ajax AFC Ajax 4 0 3 1 3 4 -1 3
Celtic FC Celtic FC 4 0 2 2 6 9 -3 2

Interviews Managers


UEFA Europa League Group stages
Celtic Park
Thursday, November 5, 2015

(Commons 26)
(Elyounoussi 21, Hestad 37)

CELTIC fell to an agonising 2-1 defeat to Molde at Celtic Park tonight as their chances of progressing from the group stages of the UEFA Europa League slipped further from their grasp.The Hoops went behind just after 20 minutes when Mohamed Elyounoussi curled in an unchallenged volley from outside the box before Kris Commons deflected Nir Bitton’s shot from distance into the net to level matters in the first-half.Molde captain Daniel Hestad had the last say, however, after he converted a deflected cross inside the six-yard box just before half-time to give the visitors three points and leave Celtic bottom of group A…….

The result leaves the Bhoys one point behind Ajax but three behind Fenerbahce in second place, and knowing only maxiumum points from their remaining two fixtures will be enough for them to make it to the knockout round.The Bhoys were handed a boost before kick-off when Jozo Simunovic was declared fit to take his place in the starting line-up after he overcame a knock picked up in the win over Aberdeen, meaning there was only one change to the side from the weekend as Stuart Armstrong replaced James Forrest on the left.Simunovic’s influence on the play was short-lived, however, after he went down under a heavy challenge from Tommy Hoiland inside 10 minutes and was replaced by Tyler Blackett.

The Hoops then looked to have taken the lead when Bitton converted a shot from just outside the box but Leigh Griffiths was adjudged to have been in an offside position, and getting a touch on the ball.Molde’s reprieve only lasted seconds as the champions went on the hunt again, finding the net through Leigh Griffiths after Commons’ shot was parried by Horvath, but the linesman again flagged the Celtic striker offside.Disaster then struck for the Celts when Molde took the lead after the Hoops failed to properly clear their lines following another attack from the visitors.

Blackett did well to initially clear a Molde cross from the left but his header only fell to the feet of Mohamed Elyounoussi some 20 yards out. He took one touch to control the ball before firing an unstoppable shot past Gordon with the outside of his right foot.The visitors were jubilant at taking the lead but Celtic remained focused and finally found the back of the net without question when Bitton’s shot from distance was flicked past Horvath by Commons.Molde soon got back in front, however, when Elyounoussi was allowed to gather a cross ball at the back post and shrug off Rogic’s challenge before clipping a pass to the opposite side of the goal where Hestad was on hand to squeeze the ball home.

It was a sickening blow for the Celts who had been largely on top in an end-to-end first-half but the strike was enough to see the visitors head into the break in front.Celtic’s injury problems increased as the second-half got underway after Commons was replaced by James Forrest for the start of the second-half. Molde made their own switch with Ola Kamara replacing Hoiland in attack.The teams traded chances with corners as the second period started where the first left off, but neither side could convert.Molde were still dangerous on the break and only two brilliant pieces of defending from Dedryck Boyata stopped Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s quick-passing side going further in front before the hour.

The Celts eventually settled and after some patient play eventually forced a good goal-scoring chance when Lustig got a header on Stuart Armstrong’s cross but Horvath somehow pushed it off the line.The Bhoys were then made to sweat again as a combination of Molde’s slick passing and poor distribution in the Celtic midfield allowed the visitors to come forward but the Hoops survived, despite Hestad going close from a corner.
As time wore on Ronny Deila made his final throw of the dice by bringing on Nadir Ciftci for Blackett as Bitton moved into central defence.Griffiths had a brilliant chance to level the score 15 minutes from time after beating the offside trap but his shot flashed inches wide.

Disaster then struck for the Bhoys when Bitton was shown a straight red card for a foul on Kamara as the second-half substitute raced towards the Celtic box on the counter-attack.
It was a hammer blow for the Hoops, who had already used all of their subs, and forced Lustig to drop into defence and Ciftci to sit further back in midfield.Kamara cracked an effort off the bar but the visitors didn’t add to their advantage.

Their first-half goals were enough to condemn the Celts to defeat, however, leaving their hopes of getting out the group looking tough ahead of their next game against Ajax at the end of the month.It was a dull end to a poor evening for the Bhoys, with Tierney one of few bright sparks, as they now return their attention to league duty and Ross County on Sunday.

CELTIC (4-2-3-1) Gordon; Lustig, Boyata, Simunovic (Blackett 9’ [Ciftci 69’]), Tierney; Bitton, Johansen; Commons (Forrest 46), Rogic, Armstrong; Griffiths
Not used: Bailly, Ambrose, Mackay-Steven, Izaguirre

MOLDE (4-3-3) Horvath; Linnes, Toivio, Forren, Rindaroy; Singh, Hestad, Hussain; Mostrom (E. Hestad 62), Hoiland (Kamara 46), Elyounoussi
Not used: Da Silva, Semb Berg, Gabrielsen, Flo, Agnaldo

Group A P W D L GF GA GD Pts
1 Molde 3 2 1 0 7 3 +4 7
2 Fenerbahce 3 1 1 1 4 5 -1 4
3 Celtic 3 0 2 1 5 7 -2 2
4 Ajax 3 0 2 1 3 4 -1


UEFA Europa League Group A
Aker Stadion, Molde
Thursday, October 22, 2015

(Kamara 11, Forren 18, Elyounoussi 56)
(Commons 55)

CELTIC’S ambitions of reaching the UEFA Europa League knockout stages suffered a setback with a disappointing 3-1 away defeat to Molde in atrocious weather conditions.
Despite making a bright start, the Hoops conceded twice in the space of seven minutes to Ola Kamara and Vegard Forren, leaving them with a mountain to climb.Kris Commons briefly provided renewed hope with a sublime solo strike 10 minutes into the second half, but Molde immediately added to their tally to take the sting out of the Celtic fightback.

A late piledriver from distance from Nir Bitton, which crashed off the top of the bar, was the closest the Bhoys came to finding a way back into the match, leaving the Hoops propping up Group A, with three fixtures remaining. Leigh Griffiths was restored to the starting line-up for the Scottish champions at the expense of Nadir Ciftci as Ronny Deila made three changes to the team who triumphed at Motherwell on Saturday.

On his return to his homeland, Stefan Johansen came back into side, along with Mikael Lustig, with Tyler Blackett and Tom Rogic the other two to drop out.Griffiths swiftly showed his predatory instincts as Celtic made a brisk start in the torrential conditions. In the third minute, Stuart Armstrong found down the right and Griffiths was quickest to his low cutback, but a last-gasp block from Martin Linnes denied the striker as the hosts scrambled the ball clear.

Moving the ball around crisply on the slick surface, the Hoops were making promising inroads into the Molde backline. A rapid breakaway saw Johansen and Kris Commons carve a path through the middle from the halfway line.But this time it was Vegard Forren who made a timely tackle for the Norwegian side as Commons attempted to seize on Johansen’s return pass.However, as the wind and rain continued to pound the ground, Solksjaer’s side clinically made the breakthrough. Capitalising upon Dedryck Boyata’s errant pass, Mohamed Elyounoussi picked out Ola Kamara in the box and he steered a shot inside Craig Gordon’s near post.

The Hoops tried to muster a quick response, enjoying several period of possession without really testing Ethan Horvath. Stuart Armstrong did get a sight of goal, following a purposeful run from Johansen, but the midfielder’s effort from 20 yards flew wide.
And in the 18th minute, Molde’s two central defenders combined to double their advantage. After Celtic had failed to clear a corner, Joona Tovio wriggled his way to the byline. His lofted cross was met at the far post by Forren, whose controlled volley evaded Gordon’s despairing dive.

Having established a two-goal cushion, the home side were more inclined than ever to defend with depth and hit on the break.Although the Bhoys fashioned several decent positions they were crowded out when looking to deliver the killer pass or pull the trigger in the attacking third of the pitch.Aside from a Griffiths shot that flashed wide, and a host of corners, Horvath was being well protected by his backline.

At the other end, they had to remain vigilant to the counter attack, particularly when the lively Elyounoussi was in possession down the left. Just before the break, Gordon was called into action to claw away the winger’s cross as it almost crept under the bar.
Celtic had it all to do in the second half and they set about reducing the deficit with zeal, with Bitton trying his luck twice from the edge of the area.In the 55th minute, a moment of magic from Commons gave them hope. Intercepting an errant pass, he dummied his way past a defender, before coolly chipping over Horvath.

But seconds later, Molde re-established their advantage. Mattias Mostrum clipped over an inviting cross from the right and Elyounoussi was on hand to bury a shot under Gordon at the back post.That was bitter bow for the Bhoys, instantly shifting the momentum back in Molde’s favour. Still, Ronny Deila’s persevered, with Commons seeing a shot deflected inches wide of the far post and another drive blocked in the box.

As Celtic committed more men forward, Molde had further chances to increase their advantage on the break, with Kamara spurning two decent opportunities and Gordon saving from Harmeet Singh.Bitton hit the bar in the closing minutes, but the Hoops’ mood at the final whistle matched the miserable weather in Norway.

CELTIC (4-2-3-1) Gordon; Lustig, Boyata, Ambrose, Izaguirre; Brown, Bitton; Commons (Ciftci 76) Johansen, Armstrong (Mackay-Steven 86); Griffiths
Not Used: Bailly, Blackett, Rogic, McGregor, Tierney

MOLDE (4-3-3) Hovarth; Linnes, Tovio, Forren, Rindaroy (Flo 52); Hestad, Singh, Hussain; Mostrum, Kamara (Hestad 74) Elyounoussi (Bakenga 84)
Not Used: Neydson Da Silva, Semb Berge Hoiland, Svendsen

Group A

Clubs P W D L F A +/- Pt
Molde FK Molde FK 2 1 1 0 4 2 2 4
Celtic FC Celtic FC 2 0 2 0 4 4 0 2
AFC Ajax AFC Ajax 2 0 2 0 3 3 0 2
Fenerbahçe SK Fenerbahçe SK 2 0 1 1 3 5 -2 1


UEFA Europa League
Celtic Park, Glasgow
Thursday, October 1, 2015

(Griffiths 28, Commons 32)
(Fernandao 43, 48)

CELTIC squandered a two-goal lead as they were held at home by Fenerbahce in captivating UEFA Europa League encounter.Leigh Griffiths and Kris Commons struck quick-fire goals to put the Hoops in control but their momentum was stifled just before the break as Fernandao capitalised on Efe Ambrose’s error to reduce arrears.The same player headed the Turkish side level three minutes after the restart and Craig Gordon had to make several saves to keep them at bay.However, the Scottish champions battled back and grew in ascendency in the latter stages, though a winner proved elusive, and they had to be content with a share of the spoils.The most eye-catching aspect of the Celtic team was the inclusion of 18-year-old Kieran Tierney at left-back in place of the suspended Emilio Izaguirre.

Although the Celtic Youth Academy graduate had featured twice for the Hoops during the current campaign, most recently in the League Cup win over Raith Rovers, this was the talented teenager’s European bow for the club. And he didn’t look out of place, producing a disciplined and mature display. The only other change to Ronny Deila’s side from Saturday’s stalemate against Hearts saw Stefan Johansen restored to the central attacking midfield role at the expense of Tom Rogic, who was named among the substitutes.Roared on by a partisan home support, Celtic made a brisk start, moving the ball crisply and closing down their opponents with vigour. Within three minutes, they carved out the first effort on goal. After stealing possession from the visitors, the ball was worked wide to Mikael Lustig. His low cross took a touch and fell invitingly for Forrest who dragged a shot wide of the near post.

The Hoops’ hard work high up the pitch was successful in preventing the Turkish team from building momentum in the early stages.Gradually, Vitor Pereira’s side began to enjoy some periods of possession but without ever troubling Craig Gordon or the Celtic backline, a timely defensive header from Lustig at the far post the only moment of concern. Dedryck Boyata’s tremendous tackle to thwart a breakaway down the left from Ozan Tufan summed up the application, intensity and work-rate from the Scottish champions – and this incessant pressure soon caused cracks to appear in the visitors’ rearguard.A quickly-taken free-kick from Commons sent Forrest scampering clear. He picked out Lustig in the middle, whose shot was deflected wide. From the resultant corner, Johansen sent a half-volley booming over.Tierney was certainly not looking overawed in this high-pressure environment, defending diligently and also contributing to the offense, with an incisive run inside the box eventually culminating in a shot from Commons that flew over.

In the 28th minute, the hosts broke the deadlock. Lustig flicked on Commons’ corner from the right. It dropped for Griffiths and, although his shot was saved by Fabiano, he slammed in the rebound.Less than five minutes later and the rampant Celts doubled their advantage. The purposeful Forrest wriggled his way to byline and his cutback was met first-time by Commons, who made no mistake.Paradise was rocking at this point as the Hoops faithful revelled in the team’s position of dominance. Fenerbahce finally mustered an effort on goal when Raul Meireles scuffed a shot wide, but a two -goal cushion for Celtic never looked in doubt until Ambrose was shot with a header back towards Gordon, allowing substitute Fernandao to slide the ball into the net.That gave the Turkish side hope
and they emerged after the restart with renewed belief. Within three minutes of the second-half they were level. Lustig headed a cross behind at the far post, and from Nani’s delivery, Fernandao glanced a header beyond Gordon.

From being on top in the opening period, Celtic were now being forced into some desperate defending as Fernandao raced onto a long ball and lobbed wide when Gordon came out to meet him.The shot-stopper was then called into action to thwart Hasan Ali Kaldirim, Nani and Deigo as the Hoops struggled to stem the tide.But a surging run from captain Brown down the right, in which he earned a free-kick, helped spark a Celtic rally. Neat link-up play down the left between Forrest and Tierney saw the former test Fabiano with a curling shot, before Commons brought out a flying save from Fabiano with a rasping shot from distance.Fabiano had no trouble in dealing with an audacious effort from Nir Bitton but he was unable to grasp Lustig’s weak, trundling shot, forcing Simon Kjaer into a hurried clearance.Urged on by the fans, the Hoops went in search of a late winner but Commons was unable to keep his first-time shot down from Lustig’s cutback as a pulsating game
ended in stalemate, keeping Celtic in join second-place in Group A.

CELTIC (4-2-3-1) Gordon; Lustig, Boyata, Ambrose, Tierney (Blackett 82); Brown, Bitton; Commons, Johansen (Rogic 82), Forrest (Armstrong 90); Griffiths
Subs: Bailly, Ciftci, Mackay-Steven, Janko

FENERBAHNCE (4-3-3) Fabiano; Ozbayrakli, Kjaer, Alves, Kaldirim; Tufan (Diego 46), Topal, Meireles (Ba 79); Volkan (Fernandao 40), van Persie, Nani
Not Used: Demirel, Zeybek, Potuk Erkin


UEFA Europa League group stages
Amsterdam ArenA, Amsterdam, Netherlands
Thursday, September 17, 2015

(Fischer 25, Schone 84)
(Bitton 8, Lustig 42)

CELTIC were forced to settle for a point in the Amsterdam ArenA in their UEFA Europa League group stages opener after a late Ajax free-kick evaded the Hoops defence to snatch a dramatic draw for the home side.The Bhoys had opened the scoring early in the first-half through Nir Bitton’s pinpoint strike but were pegged back on 25 minutes through Victor Fischer’s accurate shot from 20 yards.Ronny Deila’s team deservedly got back in front before the interval, however, when Mikael Lustig powered a header in at the back post but a late sending off for Emilio Izaguirre for a second bookable offence changed the complexion of the game and allowed Ajax to pile on the pressure.

The Hoops eventually succumbed to the waves of attack just six minutes from the end in frustrating fashion when a free-kick from second-half substitute Lasse Schone somehow got past everyone in the box and nestled in the back of the net.It was a sucker punch for the Scottish champions, who had twice led in their Group A opener, but the result still got their first point on the board.Celtic made four changes from the team that lost to Aberdeen at the weekend and it was one of those fresh faces, Kris Commons, who helped break the deadlock inside 10 minutes.

The playmaker gathered a pass from Bitton, put his head down and drove towards the box where the Ajax backline came out to meet him but his quick feet worked space to play in a wonderful through ball for Bitton in the box, allowing the Israeli midfielder to pick his spot and send an unstoppable shot beyond Jasper Cillessen.It was the perfect start for the Bhoys and the goal silenced the home crowd but the Celts failed to properly build on the early lead and instead dropped off, allowing Ajax time on the ball.

The hosts were comfortable in possession after conceding and eventually got back into the match on 25 minutes after the lively Amin Younes cut inside from the left flank and played the ball in to Davy Klaassen’s feet on the edge of the area. The attacker carried on the attack with a cute flick to Victor Fischer 20 yards out where the home side’s star man sent an accurate curling shot into the far corner.Younes in particular proved himself to be a persistent menace to the Hoops defence with his jinking runs from the left flank providing most of the creativity for Frank de Boer’s side.

However, chances were at a premium for the Dutch team and it was Celtic who went closest at the other end to going back in front through Leigh Griffiths’ snap shot after a cut-back from Forrest.The Hoops then went one better and got the goal their reinvigorated play deserved when Lustig out-jumped his marker at a Commons corner to direct a header in between Cillessen’s legs at the back post to put the Bhoys back in front just before the break. It was a sucker punch for de Boer’s side but well-deserved on the basis of play before half-time.Ajax started the second-half enthusiastically and dominated the ball for the opening five minutes. The home team looked to be one pass away from creating a clear-cut opportunity but a combination of Celtic defending and poor touches from the home team’s attackers limited their chances.

The Hoops eventually found their feet to stop the relentless waves of red and white attacks and applied some of their own pressure with a succession of corners. Lustig went closest with another header but couldn’t put his effort on target.Griffiths also rippled the side netting as the Scottish champions bid to add to their lead, provoking a reshuffle from de Boer, who switched playmaker Younes and midfielder Daley Sinkgraven with Thulani Serero and striker Arkadiusz Milik for a more direct approach.The shift didn’t challenge Celtic greatly but their night was turned on its head when Emilio Izaguirre was shown a second yellow card for a clumsy challenge on Nemanja Gudelj. The Honduran had been booked earlier and was punished again for the tackle on 74 minutes which put the Hoops down to 10 men.

Ajax instantly brought on Schone for Fischer as the Bhoys fell back into two banks of four with Tyler Blackett replacing James Forrest to plug the gap in defence.The man advantage gave the home side time to pick their pass as they tried to pry the Hoops defence open but the Celtic defence held firm, pushing the home side wide, but it was from there that they eventually drew level after Commons was penalised for a hand ball on the left flank.Substitute Schone took the set-piece with his right and his curling effort was missed by everyone in the box to find its way into the net with just six minutes left on the clock.The lateness of the strike and Celtic’s player deficit made it near impossible for the Bhoys to create anything in reply before full-time and Ajax could have stolen the victory with a late Milik header but the Celts held on for the point, although it could have been so much more.

CELTIC (4-3-2-1) Gordon; Lustig (Ambrose 67), Boyata, Simunovic, Izaguirre; Brown, Johansen, Bitton; Forrest (Blackett 75), Commons (Janko 83); Griffiths.
Not used: Bailly, Ciftci, Mackay-Steven, Rogic

AJAX (4-3-3) Cillessen; Tete, Veltman, Riedewald, Dijks; Gudelj, Fischer (Schone 75), Sinkgraven (Serero 62); El Ghazi, Klaassen, Younes (Milik 62)
Not used: Boer, van Rhijn, van der Hoorn, Viergever

1. Molde 1 1 0 0 3:1 3
2. Ajax 1 0 1 0 2:2 1
3. Celtic 1 0 1 0 2:2 1
4. Fenerbahce 1 0 0 1 1:3 0

September 17      Ajax v Celtic 6pm.
October 1              Celtic v Fenerbahce 8.05pm.
October 22           Molde v Celtic 8.05pm.
November 5         Celtic v Molde 6pm
November 26      Celtic v Ajax 8.05pm
December 10       Fenerbahce v Celtic 6pm

The europa league group stage draw is complete

Celtic will play Ajax, Fenerbache and Molde.

Celtics 4-3 Aggregate loss to Malmo will see them in the draw for the Europa League Group Stages The draw is to Take place Friday 28th August ……………………………….!!!


UEFA Champions League play-off second-leg
Malmo New Stadium, Malmo, Sweden
Tuesday, August 25, 2015

(Rosenberg 23, Boyata o.g. 54)

CELTIC’S UEFA Champions League dream is over for this season after the Hoops lost 2-0 to Malmo in Sweden in the second-leg of the play-off round, consigning them to a 4-2 aggregate defeat.Markus Rosenberg headed the hosts in front midway through the first half from Yoshmir Yotun corner, and it was from the same route that they doubled their tally early in the second half, with Dedryck Boyata putting the ball into his own net after Celtic failed to deal with the set-piece.There was no way back for the Bhoys as their desperate attempts to find a way back into the contest were repelled by the home side.Although they could rightly feel aggrieved about Nir Bitton’s disallowed goal just before half-time, which could have shifted momentum back in Celtic’s favour, the prevailing emotion at the final whistle among Ronny Deila’s men and the travelling support was one of deep disappointment.

Continental competition will now take the form of the Europa League for the Scottish champions, with the draw taking place later this week.Saidy Janko made his first European start for Celtic after Mikael Lustig lost his fitness battle for the match.The inclusion of the summer signing from Manchester United was one of two changes to the team that won the corresponding fixture 3-2 last week in Paradise, with Charlie Mulgrew also restored to the side at left-back. The injured Lustig and Emilio Izaguirre dropped out, the latter named among the substitutes.There was a full house in the Malmo New Stadium and the home support created an impressive atmosphere as proceedings got underway, hoping to watch their team make a flying start.

But it was the Bhoys who threatened first as Stuart Armstrong fastened onto a Craig Gordon’s long clearance and found himself in space down the left. He failed in his attempt to pick out James Forrest but Janko was quick to react, delivering an inviting low delivery from the opposite flank, which Leigh Griffiths was close to reaching.That stung Malmo into action and Jo Inge Berget sent a shot whizzing beyond the far post, before the same player cut the ball back from the byline, with Virgil van Dijk on hand to hook the danger clear.Berget, who had scored a brace against the Hoops in the first-leg, looked a man on a mission in the opening stages and slid a dangerous ball across goal that was just behind Rosenberg.With the game being played at a furious pace, it was hosts who had the next effort as Berget blasted over after the ball had been headed back into his path from a set-piece.

Griffiths displayed his menace as he chased an long clearance from Janko, outpaced the Malmo backline and firing wide from the angle.The speed and enterprise of Forrest and Armstrong on either flank continued to look a promising outlet as the visitors won several corners. When one of them was only partially cleared, van Dijk was close to meeting a cross at the far post.But just when Celtic looked like they were growing in ascendency, Malmo broke the deadlock at the other end. As Rosenberg tried to wriggle clear in the box, Boyata was forced to concede a corner. Yotun swung in the resultant cross and Rosenberg glanced in beyond Gordon. Forrest cut inside and shot straight at Wiland as the Hoops sought at instant reply, and the goal they now required to go through.

The clearest chances were falling the way of the home side though and Boyata had to make a last-ditch block to halt Rosenberg’s drive.Celtic, however, should have been level three minutes before the break after Johansen’s corner caused a melee before Bitton stabbed the ball home. Defender Kari Arnason also looked to have clearly handled the ball but somehow the referee disallowed the goal for a Celtic foul.But the Hoops had Gordon to thank on the stroke of half-time as his superb reaction save from Nikola Djurdjic prevented Malmo from doubling their advantage.Kris Commons replaced Armstrong at the start of the second half but it was Age Hareide’s side who threatened first as Rosenberg shot wide after an attack down the right.

Some enterprising thrusts from Janko down the right and Forrest on the opposite flank served notice of Celtic’s intention but their task became even steeper as Malmo struck again.Gordon produced an incredible double save to deny Vladimir Rodic and then Rosenberg from the rebound. However, he was left to pick the ball out of his net moments later as Celtic failed to deal from the corner and the ball trundled in via the unfortunate Boyata. Try as they might, the Hoops couldn’t get the goal that would provide them a glimmer of hope, with speculative efforts from Griffiths and Commons the best they could muster on a night of huge disappointment in Sweden.

CELTIC (4-2-3-1) Gordon; Janko, Boyata, van Dijk, Mulgrew; Brown, Bitton (Ciftci 75); Forrest (Mackay-Steven 79), Johansen, Armstrong (Commons 46); Griffiths
Not Used: Bailly, Izaguirre, Ambrose, Rogic

MALMO FF (4-4-2) Wiland; Tinnerholm, Arnason, Bengtsson (Carvalho 46) Yotun; Rodic (Rakip 82) Lewicki, Adu, Berget (Mehmeti 93); Rosenberg, Djurdjic
Not Used: Andersson, Molins, Eikrem, Vindheim


UEFA Champions League play-off first-leg
Celtic Park, Glasgow
Wednesday, August 19, 2015

(Griffiths 3, 62, Bitton 10)
(Berget 52, 90 +4)

LEIGH Griffiths bagged a brilliant brace as Celtic edged Malmo 3-2 in Paradise – but they were only seconds away from taking a more commanding lead into next week’s UEFA Champions League play-off second-leg.Griffiths showed admirable composure to open the scoring from Stefan Johansen’s pass in the third minute.Nir Bitton headed home from Johansen’s corner seven minutes later as the Hoops ran the visitors ragged in the opening stages. The Bhoys could have added to their tally as they dominated the remainder of the first half, but their lead was reduced early after the restart as former Celt Jo-Inge Berget blasted in from an acute angle.

But Griffiths was not to be denied and his opportunist header in the 62nd minute put Ronny Deila’s side back in pole position. And it looked as though they would take a two-goal lead back to Sweden for the second-leg until Berget struck at the death, smashing home after a corner had ricocheted around the box. James Forrest replaced Gary Mackay-Steven on the right-wing as the manager made one change to the side that defeated Inverness Caley Thistle 4-2 in the league on Saturday.Amid a thunderous din, Celtic immediately took the game to the visitors, with Forrest earning a corner inside the first 30 seconds. Johansen’s flighted delivery was won by Virgil van Dijk, with the loose ball almost falling for Griffiths.

The home side’s purposeful start was rewarded within the third minute as Griffiths made the breakthrough. Stuart Armstrong drove inside before finding Johansen who delivered a precise first-time pass into Griffiths. He remained calm, coolly rolling the ball under the advancing Johan Wiland.Paradise duly erupted and they soon had further reason to celebrate as the Hoops quickly doubled their advantage. Armstrong reached the byline and his cross was headed behind. From Johansen’s resultant corner, Bitton planted a header beyond Wiland to spark delirium in the stands.Malmo were reeling and Celtic were rampant. Only a low save from Wiland prevented Johansen making it 3-0 after Griffiths had teed-up the Norwegian in the box in the 13th minute.

The visitors were struggling to stem the tide as Ronny Deila’s side attacked at a furious pace and pressed relentlessly without the ball. Another incisive break from the lively Forrest presented Griffiths with a sight of goal, the striker flashing a shot into the side-netting.Midway through the half Malmo mustered their first effort on goal as Vladimir Rodic was first to a loose ball on the edge of the box, with Craig Gordon turning the winger’s shot past the post.A sublime pass from Bitton had the away side quickly on the back foot again, however. Mikael Lustig scampered on to the Israeli internationalist’s through ball but his fizzing cutback had no takers in the middle.

Are Hareide’s side were growing into the contest, but ambitious long-range shots from Nikola Djurdic and Rodic and a deflected shot from Jo-Inge Berget were all they had to show for their efforts.At the other end, the Bhoys always looked more menacing. Armstrong sent a rasping drive inches beyond the far post, before a sweeping move almost saw Forrest reach Griffiths’ return pass.Erdal Rakip blazed over for Malmo as they searched in vain for some kind of reply prior to the interval.

It had been a fantastic first half from the Scottish champions and they immediately sought about reasserting their dominance after the restart but a quick breakaway saw them undone.From a Celtic corner, the ball was knocked clear and when Magnus Eikrem’s missed everyone in the middle, it fell for Berget, and he lashed a powerful drive from an acute angle beyond Gordon.Filled with renewed belief, Malmo poured forward and almost grabbed a leveller as Djurdic’s thumping drive brought out a superb save from Gordon.However, the Hoops soon recovered from that setback and were back in full stride, with Griffiths smashing a shot off a defender after the ball had dropped for him at the back post.

And less than 10 minutes later, the two-goal cushion was restored. Lustig’s searching centre was only partially cleared and Griffiths displayed brilliant determination to loop a header over Wiland.As Celtic defended resolutely, it looked as though they would head to Malmo in complete control of the tie, a Djurdic shot that flew wide their only meaningful attempt as the clock ticked down.However, right at the death, Berget reacted quickest as a corner was knocked down by substitute Felipe Carvalho to stun Paradise and leave the Hoops with only a slender one-goal lead and plenty of work to do to keep their UEFA Champions League dream alive.

CELTIC (4-2-3-1): Gordon; Lustig (Ambrose 80) Boyata, Van Dijk, Izaguirre; Brown, Bitton; Forrest, Johansen, Armstrong (Mackay-Steven 63); Griffiths (Ciftci 73)
Not Used: Bailly, Commons, Rogic, Mulgrew

MALMO FF (4-4-2) Wiland; Tinnerholm, Arnason, Bengtsson, Yotun; Rodic, Lewicki, Rakip (Sana 81) Berget; Eikrem (Carvalho 72) Djurdic
Not Used: Anderson, Konate, Molnis, Mehmeti, Vindheim


UEFA Champions League
Third round qualifier, second-leg
Tofiq Bahramov Stadium
Wednesday, August 5, 2015

(Celtic 1-0 on aggregate)

CELTIC progressed to the play-off stages of the UEFA Champions League qualifiers thanks to a nail-biting 0-0 draw with FK Qarabag in Azerbaijan.The Bhoys’ 1-0 aggregate lead from last week’s first-leg of their third round qualifier, courtesy of Dedryck Boyata’s late header, proved to be enough for Ronny Deila’s men, who battled the heat, a difficult playing surface and a well-drilled home team to make it to the final hurdle before the group stages.

Despite brining only a limited number of supporters with them to Paradise last week, the home side managed to pack out the ground for the fixture with fans waving flags, beating drums and belting out deafening chants to create an electric atmosphere before kick-off.
Fears over the playability of the surface subsided on the day of the game as the pitch was heavily watered, as did concerns over the scorching heat, which was cooled somewhat by a mild wind throughout the ground.

Ronny Deila opted to field the same side which recorded the 1-0 win over Qarabag last week but tweaked the formation to put Nir Bitton in front of the defence and a flat four across midfield.That gave Nadir Ciftci the sole responsibility of leading the line up front and the Bhoys tried to find him early with a string of cross-field passes but they couldn’t find the target.Qarabag were the first to threaten out of both teams when they won a corner on 10 minutes but the ball-in rattled off a home team player’s hand in the box, stopping the danger for Celtic.

A second well-worked corner from the hosts then allowed Richard Almeida to line up a shot in the box but he sliced his effort wide and the Hoops survived.Tenacious work from Stuart Armstrong then won the ball for Celtic deep in Qarabag’s half and he skipped past two challenges to work his way into the box but the home side defence hooked the attacker’s cut-back clear midway through the first-half.The Celts began to find their rhythm after that and looked to be only one pass away from tearing open the home side’s defence, with Gary Mackay-Steven leading the charge, but a quick counter-attack from Qarabag allowed Almeida to fire off the best chance of the half with a cracking shot from 20 yards.

Hoops goalie Craig Gordon was equal to the effort, however, and pulled out a world class one-handed save to palm the strike wide of goal on the half-hour mark.Alarm bells went off again for the Bhoys when a clever Qarabag pass made it through to Dani Quintana in the box but he slipped and the Celts defence lashed the ball out for a corner, which was scrambled clear.

It was then the Celts’ turn to attack when they won their first corner five minutes before half-time but the home defence managed to clear. Bitton then almost found the opener of the evening with an audacious shot from just inside the home side’s half after spotting Ibrahim Sehic off his line but the keeper recovered and saved his team’s blushes before the interval.Play retained the look of the first-half after the restart with Celtic trying to hold onto the ball and hit on the break and Qarabag keen to press high up the pitch.

The home side created two good chances from corners inside the first 10 minutes of the second-half with a shot from Badavi Huseynov which went well over and a first-time effort from Rashad Sadygov from 20 yards, which also sailed over Gordon’s cross bar.
The Celtic goalie then made his first save of the second-half to gather El Jadeyaoui’s week shot from the right flank and the catch allowed Celtic to take a better grip of the game and push further up the pitch.

The Bhoys began to pass their way through the Qarabag midfield but the hosts defence was resolute in the face of the Celts attacks.Qarabag were dangerous on the break as well and Celtic’s push forward left gaps at the back. El Jadeyaoui looked to capitalise on that after 65 minutes when he found the ball at his feet in the area at the back post but the Bhoys blocked his shot well and cleared.

Ronny Deila then introduced Leigh Griffiths to the play in place of Ciftci as the champions sought to stretch the home side’s tiring defence. Qarabag also introduced fresh legs upfront as the game approached a nervy conclusion but it was Celtic who looked on top as the clock ticked down and they almost stole the win in the dying minutes through Stefan Johansen.

Armstrong’s relentless hounding of the Qarabag defence won the ball for Celtic 18 yards out and he slipped Johansen in with a great pass but the Norwegian’s first-time shot screwed agonisingly wide of Sehic’s left post.Substitutes Kris Commons and James Forrest were deployed to keep the Bhoys up the pitch and the Scotland winger could have calmed the nerves with just minutes left when he squirmed past three challenges and into the box but elected to pass, rather than shoot, allowing the hosts to clear.The home side came forward again and again as the game reached its conclusion but Celtic showed maturity and experience in defence to see out the tie and send the Hoops into the play-offs.

CELTIC (4-1-4-1): Gordon; Lustig, Boyata, van Dijk, Izaguirre; Bitton; Brown, Mackay-Steven (Commons 78), Johansen, Armstrong (Forrest 83); Ciftci (Griffiths 66’)
Not used: Ambrose, Rogic, Janko, Bailly,

FK QARABAG (4-3-2-1) Sehic; Gurbanov, Huseynov, Sadygov, Agoli; Quintana, Garayev, Almeida; El Jadeyaoui (Mammadov 73), Reynaldo; Poepon (Ismayilov 62)
Not used: Veliyev, Mustafayev, Yunuszada, Taghiyev, Diniyev


UEFA Champions League third qualifying round first-leg
Celtic Park, Glasgow
Wednesday, July 29, 2015

(Boyata 82)


DEDRYCK Boyata’s late header gave Celtic a priceless 1-0 lead in their UEFA Champions League third round qualifier against a stubborn FK Qarabag.The Belgian headed home with only eight minutes remaining on the clock from Kris Commons’ corner to send Paradise into delirium.Up to then it had been a frustrating night for the Scottish champions, with Nadir Cifti and Virgil van Dijk coming closest to making the breakthrough.

But the defender’s goal means the Bhoys make head to Azerbaijan next week in pole position to progress in the tie, though they know a stiff task awaits them in Baku on the evidence of Qarabag’s disciplined display in Glasgow.Emilio Izaguirre was restored to the starting XI at the expense of Charlie Mulgrew at left-back after the latter picked up an injury in Saturday’s friendly success against Rennes.

And the full-back was immediately involved in a typical forward sortie down the flank as Celtic sprang from the traps, urged on by a fired-up home support.That early surge fizzled out, however, and this was typical of the opening exchanges for the home side. While their endeavour and work-rate couldn’t be faulted, the Hoops couldn’t plot a route through the well-drilled visitors.Piercing runs inside from the wide-men Gary Mackay-Steven and Stuart Armstrong looked the most likely method of carving open Qarabag.

A brilliant first-time pass from Armstrong found Mackay-Steven lurking on the edge of the area in the 13th minute but he was crowded out before he could cause any damage. The same fate befell Armstrong four minutes later after he attempted to seize upon a lofted ball through the middle.The away side, for the most part, were content to defend in depth and break swiftly through their pace of their forwards. And they did give notice of their threat with a free-kick from Reynaldo from 30 yards which was deflected wide, before Boyata and Nir Bitton had to make timely challenges to thwart dangerous attacks.

Pressing relentlessly, Celtic eventually began to make more inroads into their opponents around the midway point of the half. A slick passage of play down the right saw Mackay-Steven collect a first-time return pass from Stefan Johansen and then test Ibrahim Sehic with a low drive from 20 yards.The visitors replied with their best chance of the match as Javid Taghiyev teed-up Richard Almeida inside the box but he couldn’t direct his effort on target, the ball spinning past Craig Gordon’s near post.

With Nadir Cifti manfully working hard in the lone striking role, Celtic continued to search for a way to goal but only several set-pieces were the reward for their efforts.Instead, as half-time approached, it was the Azerbaijan champions who caused a few flutters on the counter. A more precise cross from winger Alharbi El Jadeyaoui, with several of his team-mates well placed in the middle, could have proved costly to the hosts.

On the stroke of half-time, Virgil van Dijk was booked after a tussle with El Jadeyaoui near the byline. Almeida took aim directly from the free-kick but Gordon was right behind it to punch it clear.Setting out with renewed impetus after the break, Ronny Deila’s men looked determined to regain the ascendency. Nir Bitton quickly shot over from distance and then Ciftci was first to a fizzing cross from Izaguirre, his header drifting wide.

This served to encourage the home support, who were offering their traditional tremendous backing. Bitton, becoming more of an influence on proceedings, sent Ciftci scampering clear after some silky footwork but the offside flag halted the Turkish striker’s advances.On the hour-mark the new Bhoy was presented with a golden chance to break the deadlock as Armstrong’s intended pass for Izaguirre fell for him in the box but his first-time effort was straight at Sehic.

Straight up the other end, Taghiyev nearly got a clear run on goal but his control let him down. Searching for greater width, James Forrest was introduced, with Mackay-Steven moving to the left.Within minutes of the switch Mackay-Steven brilliantly won a free-kick on the byline. Johansen’s cross picked out van Dijk and his header looked destined for the net until Sehic pulled off a superb, one-handed save.

The Dutchman came close again moments later as his thunderous drive from distance whizzed inches over the bar.Leigh Griffiths and Kris Commons came on to add further firepower in the closing stages, but it was a Qarabag player who almost gave Celtic the advantage as Gara Garayev sliced a clearance onto the roof of his own net.

The goal arrived from the resultant corner as Commons’ inviting cross was met powerfully by Boyata at the near post, with Sehic grasping left grasping thin air. Celtic Park erupted and the celebrations in the stands and on the pitch underlined just how crucial a moment it could be in the quest for the Champions League.Commons put an opportunist effort wide as the clock ticked down but, importantly, the Hoops held firm to ensure the visitors didn’t leave with an away goal ahead of next week’s trip to Baku.

CELTIC (4-2-3-1) Gordon; Lustig, Boyata, van Dijk, Izaguirre; Brown, Bitton (Griffiths 69); Mackay-Steven, Johansen, Armstrong (Forrest 62); Ciftci (Commons 80)
Not Used: Bailly, Ambrose, Rogic, Janko

FK QARABAG (4-2-3-1) Sehic; Qurbanov, Huseynov, Sadigov, Agol; Garayev, Almeida;  El Jadeyaoui (Poepon 87), Quintana (Diniyev 82), Taghiyev (Memmedov 73); Reynaldo
Not Used: Veliyev, Mustafayev, Salahli, Yunuszade,


Samsung Stadium
Reykjavik, Iceland
UEFA Champions League second qualifying round

(Finsen 7)

(Bitton 33, Mulgrew 49, Griffiths 88, Johansen 90+3)

CELTIC survived an early scare to cruise to a 4-1 victory over FC Stjarnan in Iceland and book their place in the UEFA Champions League third qualifying round, triumphing 6-1 on aggregate.Olafur Karl Finsen stunned the Hoops by opening the scoring for the home side in the seventh minute. It was a goal that came completely against the run of play, but the Hoops steadied themselves and levelled the match through Nir Bitton’s header.The away side took the lead on the night shortly after the break when Charlie Mulrgew rifled home from Scott Brown’s pass, effectively ending the tie as a contest.And they inflicted further punishment in the closing stages as Leigh Griffiths finished off a flowing move and Stefan Johansen swept home from Gary Mackay-Steven’s cutback.

In the end, it was comprehensive win for Ronny Deila’s side, who will now square up to Qarabag FK from Azerbaijan for a place in the play-offs Mackay-Steven Virgil van Dijk were restored to the Celtic starting XI as the manager made two changes to the team that defeated the Icelandic outfit last week in Glasgow.The winger, who missed the corresponding fixture after picking up an injury in the warm-up, came into the team at the expense of James Forrest, while van Dijk replaced Emilio Izaguirre, with Mulgew moving to left back. In the spartan surroundings of the Samsung Stadium, the Hoops immediately took the initiative against the home side, controlling possession and pushing for the crucial opening goal.

Finding some promising situations down the flanks, the Scottish champions earned several early corners and free-kicks in dangerous positions but failed to test goalkeeper Gunnar Nielsen until Mulgrew took aim from a set-piece from 30 yards. His connection was sweet but the Stjarnan shot-stopper was equal to the shot.And with seven minutes on the clock, the hosts shocked Celtic by making the breakthrough. Following a swift breakaway down the left, Jeppe Hansen picked out Finsen, who cut inside and fired calmly beyond Craig Gordon.That goal provided further fuel for the Icelandic side in their defensive duties as the Hoops resumed the offensive with renewed vigour.Bitton fired wide from distance, before Stuart Armstrong lofted a ball in for Nadir Ciftci, who showed good strength to hold off his marker but he couldn’t keep his final effort down.

Celtic were bossing proceedings but were finding it difficult to break through the wall of blue shirts. However, gradually, Stjarnan’s busy backline started to creak.Mulgrew’s free-kick found Johansen in space and his shot entered a ruck of players in the six-yard box. Dedryck Boyata bundled the ball home but his celebrations were cut short by the offside flag.As the crosses continued to fly into the Stjarnan box, the Hoops came close again just before the half-hour mark, when Mulgrew’s low corner was almost forced over the line by Bitton and then Ciftci.Eventually, the home side’s resistance was broken from yet another Celtic corner. Johansen delivered the set-piece from the left and Bitton rose highest to bullet home a header, much to joy and relief of the travelling support.

Ronny Deila’s men went quickly in search of a second goal and they came within inches of achieving that objective as Armstrong’s instinctive shot trundled past the far post after diligent work from Mikael Lustig and Mackay-Steven.Apart from a well-worked free-kick which Daniel Laxdal volleyed wide, it was all Celtic as the interval approached, with Ciftci trying his luck from the edge of the box and Bitton’s clean strike forcing Nielsen into a smart save.Making a purposeful start to the second period, the Scottish champions only took four minutes to complete the turnaround. A slick passing move saw the ball being moved out to the left by Scott Brown. Mulgrew took a touch, steadied himself and then lashed an unstoppable shot into the far corner.

The visitors continued to probe for further reward, with Johansen particularly prominent, frequently finding dangerous pockets of space in front of the Stjarnan back four and attempting to pick out the runs of Ciftci, Armstrong and Mackay-Steven.At the other end, Boyata had to make a timely intervention to deny substitute Veigar Gunnarsson a sight of goal, but the introduction of Leigh Griffiths for the Hoops provided further attacking impetus for the Bhoys.Fresh from scoring a hat-trick against Eibar at the weekend, the striker looked full of verve and he only took a matter of moments to link up with Ciftci and flick a shot wide. He then tested Nielsen after collecting Johansen’s pass and driving towards the box.Bitton thought he had grabbed his second of the evening as he swept home Mulgrew’s free-kick, but the offside flag again came to Stjarnan’s rescue.

Gordon was finally called into meaningful action midway through the second half, saving from Finsen and then reacting quickly to thwart the chance for the rebound.But it was his opposite number who was considerably busier, and Nielsen prevented Mackay-Steven adding a third as he blocked the winger’s powerful drive after he had raced in on goal.The former Motherwell keeper was beaten again, however, as the clock ticked down after the Bhoys cut open the hosts with a wonderfully-worked goal.And there was still time for Johansen to compound Stjarnan’s misery as he applied the finish from Mackay-Steven’s low centre to seal the win and keep Celtic’s quest for the group phase alive.

CELTIC (4-2-3-1) Gordon; Lustig (Ambrose 52), Boyata, van Dijk, Mulgrew; Brown, Bitton; Mackay-Steven, Johansen, Armstrong (Griffiths 62); Ciftci (Rogic 82)
Not Used: Bailly, Izaguirre, Stokes, Forrest

FC STJARNAN (4-3-3) Nielsen; Aegisson, D. Laxdal, Gudjonsson, Arnason; Runarsson (Gunnarsson 58) Praest, Punyed, Bjorgvinsson, Hansen (Barddal 81) Finsen
Not Used: Johannesson, J. Laxdal, Ottesen Palsson, Knutsson, Bjornsson


UEFA Champions League
Second round qualifier 1st leg
Celtic Park
Wednesday, July 15

(Boyata 45, Johansen 56)


CELTIC opened their 2015/16 UEFA Champions League qualifying campaign with a confident 2-0 victory over FC Stjarnan at Paradise.A headed goal just before half-time from debut Bhoy Dedryck Boyata was complimented by a fine finish from Stefan Johansen in the second-half to give Ronny Deila’s side a solid lead going into next week’s second leg of the second round qualifier in Iceland.The Celts missed the opportunity to put the tie out of sight when second-half substitute Leigh Griffith’s penalty was saved by Gunnar Nielsen but the win should be enough to give the champions the belief tthat they can finish the tie on the road next week.

The match saw a double debut for the Celts with new Bhoys Boyata and Nadir Ciftci making their competitive bows in front of the home crowd. Mikael Lustig also took his place in the side at right-back for the first time in a competitive game since February.Charlie Mulgrew started in central defence alongside Boyata in the absence of Virgil van Dijk, who served a one-match ban following his red card against Inter Milan in the UFEA Europa League last season. Ronny Deila was also forced to make one change before kick-off as Gary Mackay-Steven was replaced by James Forrest.
The first real chance came 10 minutes in when sustained pressure from Celtic forced a hurried clearance from the Stjarnan defence, which fell to Stefan Johansen 30 yards out.

The Norwegian controlled well and spotted the run of Ciftci, who gathered the pass in the box and spun his marker but his low shot was saved well by Nielson.High pressing from the Celts then won their first corner after Ciftci had a snap shot from 20 yards out. Johansen swung the set-piece in but Bitton couldn’t make a connection in the six yard box.A string of goal-scoring chances were then passed up by the champions as they continued to weave their way through the Stjarnan back-line. Johansen saw a volley in the area go inches wide before Armstrong took aim with his right from distance on 24 minutes but his shot whistled just over.

A quick throw-out from Craig Gordon then sparked a brilliant Celtic counter attack just before the half hour mark, allowing Johansen to drive at the Icelandic champions’ box and set up Armstrong inside the area but Nielsen got a block on the winger’s effort to keep the scores even. Stjarnan looked like they had done their research and their compact defensive set up continued to frustrate Deila’s men. The Bhoys remained undeterred, however, and the Icelanders’ rearguard was finally penetrated by a well-worked set piece after the Celts won a corner on the rightJohansen varied his approach by playing it short to Lustig and the Swede returned the ball to the attacker who had worked a wider angle for the cross. He then curled a pin-point ball into the six yard box where Boyata towered above his marker to power the ball home.

The breakthrough was well-deserved and came at the perfect time, just on the stroke of half-time.Celtic stormed out of the blocks after the restart to press home the advantage gained before the break but that left gaps at the back for Stjarnan, who displayed more confidence coming forward and created two dangerous chances before the Bhoys doubled their advantage through Player of the Year, Johansen.Mulgrew carried the ball forward on 56 minutes and played it to Armstrong on the left wing. The attacker cut inside and ran parallel to the box before playing an incisive through ball to Johansen 12 yards out who calmly clipped his shot round Nielsen with one touch to put the Celts 2-0 up.Leigh Griffiths was then introduced before the hour mark as Forrest made way and Celtic went 4-4-2.

The fresh approach gave the Bhoys a wealth of talent in the attacking department and it wasn’t long before the Edinburgh hit-man and Ciftci began to link up with clever flicks and interchanging runs. Captain Scott Brown also got in on the action as the Hoops morphed into full attacking flow and the skipper showed brilliant feet in the box to dance around a cluster of defenders but his shot was straight at Nielsen.Armstrong also continued to torment the Stjarnan defence and he clipped a delightful ball in for Johansen just after 70 minutes but the midfielder’s effort went over the bar. Johansen then turned provider as Celtic again tried to get Ciftci a debut goal but the striker couldn’t divert the midfielder’s cross on target.

Attack remained the order of the day, however, as Anthony Stokes replaced the Turkish forward on the 74th minute as the Bhoys chased a third goal.Celtic were then awarded a penalty just minutes later when Johansen was pushed in back as he gathered a flick-on from Brown in the box. Griffiths stepped up to take the kick and fired it to Nielsen’s right with power but the keeper got two strong hands to the effort and pushed it wide.Goal-scorer Boyata then made way for Efe Ambrose as the game approached its conclusion but the Bhoys remained on the front foot and had a chance to make it 3-0 just before the final whistle but Johansen’s powerful drive inside the box went over the bar before the referee called time to give the Celts a solid advantage heading to Iceland next week.

CELTIC (4-2-3-1) Gordon; Lustig, Boyata (Ambrose 82), Mulgrew, Izaguirre; Brown, Bitton; Mackay-Steven (Forrest, before kick-off; Forrest off for Griffiths 58), Johansen, Armstrong; Ciftci (Stokes 74)

FC STJARNAN (4-2-3-1) Nielsen; Aegisson, Gudjonsson, D Laxdal, Arnason; Praest, A. Johannsson (Runarsson 73) Bjorgvinsson (Ottesen 86), Finsen, H.O. Bjornsson (Gunnarsson 80); Hansen


UEFA Europa League
Stadio Giuseppe Meazza
Thursday, February 26, 2015

(Guarin 87)


A SPECTACULAR late goal from Fredy Guarin saw Celtic lose 1-0 to Inter Milan tonight in the San Siro.The Celts put on a great battling display against Roberto Mancini’s side but were given an uphill battle to fight when Virgil van Dijk was controversially shown a red card in the first half for a second bookable offence after a tackle on Mauro Icardi.

The Bhoys fought valiantly until the closing minutes despite the man disadvantage but a piece of simple yet outstanding play from Guarin just minutes from time condemned the Hoops to defeat and put them out of the UEFA Europa League.Celtic made three changes from the side which beat Hamilton 4-0 at the weekend for the match after Ronny Deila elected to bring Gary Mackay-Steven and Stuart Armstrong back into the starting XI at the expense of Kris Commons and James Forrest.

Striker John Guidetti retained his place up front after his last-minute equaliser against Inter at Paradise and was supported by the same attacking three that played against Roberto Mancini’s side last Thursday at Celtic Park.Adam Matthews also returned at right-back in place of Efe Ambrose meaning the manager made just one change from the team which drew 3-3 with Inter in the first leg.

Inter controlled the opening stages of the game and tested Craig Gordon straight from the first whistle with a shot from Mauro Icardi at the right angle of the box but Matthews did enough to put the striker off and the Celtic keeper gathered.The home side were quick with their passing and a few early balls over the Celtic backline also gave the Hoops rearguard an indication of the Italians’ game plan.

The Celts were pushed back in the opening minutes but Mackay-Steven looked threatening on the break down the right wing and had a great chance to get the first goal when he found himself one-on-one with Juan Pablo Carrizo but the Inter keeper came out early to block the winger’s shot.The home side continued to press and pass the ball well in Celtic’s half and enjoyed good spells of pressure for the first 20 minutes of the game.

Mancini’s team looked dangerous on the wings and a low cross from the right from Davide Santon caused panic in the Celtic box when it evaded everyone and headed to Icadri at the back post but the striker couldn’t reach the ball.Celtic then started to find their stride and had a strong penalty shout waved away when Stuart Armstrong was bundled off the ball in the box but no whistle came from the referee.

The official then turned the match on its head when he sent off Virgil van Dijk for a tackle on Icardi deep in Celtic territory. The defender had been booked for an earlier challenge on Rodrigo Palacio and his tussle with Icardi on the right touchline as the pair chased a ball saw the referee give the Dutchman a second yellow card, leaving Celtic with 10 men.

Inter almost scored from the resultant free-kick but Gordon made a miraculous save to thwart Icardi from close range, although the hit-man was off side.Celtic then brought on Efe Ambrose to shore up the defence and took off Mackay-Steven, who had been the Hoops’ best player of the half.The Bhoys then kept the scores level just before half time with two pieces of great last-ditch defending as Inter pressed for the first goal.

Jason Denayer firstly bravely blocked a shot from Xherdan Shaqiri in the Celtic box before Gordon saved brilliantly to deny Danilo D’Ambrosio from six yards out.Inter threatened again before the interval after a mazy run from Hernanes found Palacio in the box but another fine tackle from Emilio Izaguirre blocked the striker’s shot and the teams went in level.

The second half started with a rousing chorus of You’ll Never Walk Alone echoing around the San Siro as the Celtic support tried to spur their side on after a difficult first half. The backing from the fans seemed to work as the Bhoys came forward from the kick-off with some good spells of play in Inter’s half but the home side’s man advantage helped them side keep the Celts at bay.Guidetti did well to cause the Inter defence problems but the home team’s defenders were robust in their handling of the Swedish striker, although he got no help from the referee.

Ronny Deila then took the striker off and replaced him with James Forrest as he sought to test the Inter defence with fresh legs.More decisions from the referee broke up play as Celtic tried to create something in the inter half but the extra man for Mancini’s side made finding space or the killer pass difficult for the Bhoys.

Inter were happy to sit back and give the Hoops time on the ball but they were still dangerous on the counter attack, which they proved on several occasions but Gordon continued to thwart the Nerazzurri front men with a string of fine saves.Icardi, Palacio and Shaqiri then all linked up to create a great chance in the box but Shaqiri’s header went out for a goal kick. Inter then spurned another good chance to get the first goal with a corner from the right just after the hour mark but Andrea Ranocchia’s header at the back post went narrowly wide.

Craig Gordon was then booked by the referee while taking a goal kick, signalling another frustrating and questionable decision from the official.The game was then won just minutes before full time when Guarin picked up the ball 3o yards out and drove at goal.The attacker shifted the ball right to open up space and sent an unstoppable shot beyond Craig Gordon and into the back of the net.

It was a total sucker punch for the Hoops, who had battled so well throughout with only 10 men on the pitch, but was enough to give Inter the win.Celtic came back at Inter from the restart but the home side won the ball back and killed time with a corner at the right before the referee blew the final whistle.It was a difficult result for the Celts to take but their performance will leave the Hoops faithful with a lot of positives on their trip back to Scotland.

CELTIC (4-2-3-1) Gordon; Matthews, Denayer, van Dijk, Izaguirre; Brown, Bitton; Mackay-Steven (Ambrose 39), Johansen, Armstrong (Commons 77); Guidetti (Forrest 58)
Not used: Zaluska, Stokes, Wakaso, Henderson.

INTER MILAN: (4-3-1-2) Carrizo; Santon, Ranocchia, Juan, D’Ambrosio (Campagnaro 79); Guarin, Medel, Hernanes (Kovacic 79); Shaqiri; Palacio (Puscas 88), Icardi
Not used: Handanovic, Vidic, Kuzmanovic, Obi.

Inter Milan v Celtic

Tie to be played

Thu, 26th February 2015 – AWAY


UEFA Europa League
Celtic Park, Glasgow
Thursday, February 2, 2015

(Armstrong 24, Campagnaro og 25, Guidetti 90+3)

(Shaqiri 5, Palacio 14, 45)

JOHN Guidetti was the last-action hero for Celtic as the Hoops and Inter Milan shared the spoils in a sensational six-goal thriller in Paradise.Early goals from Xherdan Shaqiri and Rodrigo Palacio had seemingly put the Nerazzuri in cruise control.But the Hoops roared back to level this UEFA Europa League last 32 tie in the space of 60 seconds through Stuart Armstrong and an own goal from Hugo Campagnaro.

Palacio restored the visitors’ lead on the stroke of half-time, and they looked as though they might hold on to that slender advantage as Ronny Deila’s men pounded on the Inter defence in the second 45 minutes without reward.But in the dying moments Guidetti raised the roof in Celtic Park as the striker acrobatically found the back of the net, giving the Scottish champions the draw they thoroughly deserved and renewed hope ahead of next week’s second-leg in the San Siro.

The rich history attached to the fixture had captured the imagination of supporters since the draw had been in late December. Tickets had been eagerly snapped up by fans keen to see two great names in European football rekindle a famous rivalry, stretching back 48 years to that glorious day in 1967.There was a sense of that spirit and passion as kick-off approached under the floodlights. The inimitable Bertie Auld addressed a sell-out crowd, before the rest of the Lisbon Lions and two members of the Inter ’67 team who took in the Estadio Nacional took the acclaim of the crowd and then formed a guard of honour.

A special night seemed in store – and so it proved.New Bhoys Armstrong and Gary Mackay-Steven made their home bow as Ronny Deila kept faith the same team that sunk St Johnstone on Saturday.That meant the in-form Leigh Griffiths continued to lead the line up front, supported by Stefan Johansen, with Scott Brown and Nir Bitton anchoring the midfield.There was no surprise among the back-four as Adam Matthews, Jason Denayer, Virgil van Dijk and Emilio Izaguirre continued their partnership, having only conceded a miserly one goal in nine games.

Mackay-Steven had only taken 38 seconds to mark his debut with a goal and he was presented with an opportunity on the edge of the box inside the opening two minutes, but goalkeeper Juan Pablo Carrizo was comfortably behind his shot.Celtic were competing well in the early exchanges but they suffered an early hammer blow in the fifth minute as Shaqiri put the visitors ahead.Racing on to Zdrako Kuzmanovic’s ball over the top, the Swiss internationalist’s angled volley was parried by Craig Gordon as it looked to be heading wide. The rebound fell kindly to the forward and he tucked it away.

The Hoops faithful immediately attempted to rouse the Bhoys, and there was a response as Armstrong’s inviting cross from the left was inches away from Griffiths.However, Inter’s fluid front three of Shaqiri, Mauro Icardi and Rodrigo Palacio continued to look menacing, and Gordon was called into action by Shaqiri’s powerful shot from 20 yards.His diving stop was at the expense of a corner, though, and from the resultant set-piece the Italian side doubled their advantage.

The delivery was aimed for Shaqiri at the edge of the box, and when he lobbed the ball back into the mix, Izaguirre’s clearance dropped kindly for Palacio, who took a touch and finished emphatically.Trailing by two goals inside the first 15 minutes was the worst possible start for Ronny Deila’s men but they remained undeterred and continued to pour forward. Matthews’s searching delivery from the right was met by the onrushing Armstrong but he couldn’t flick the ball on target. A few minutes later, they combined again – but this time the ball ended up in the back of the net.

The Welshman did brilliantly to hit the byline and his cutback fell for Armstrong who calmly stroked the ball home. Belief was back.Incredibly, 60 seconds later, they restored parity. After tenacious play from Griffiths had kept Inter hemmed in, the Hoops regained possession. Johansen lofted a cross into the mix and Armstrong’s presence forced Hugo Campagnaro to bundle the ball into his own net. Cue bedlam.Paradise was rocking and Inter were reeling at this stage as Celtic roared forward, sensing vulnerabilities in the Nerazzurri backline.

Griffiths headed over from Izaguirre’s cross and Denayer glanced a header wide from Johansen’s free-kick after another purposeful drive down the flank from Matthews.
A foul on Johansen gave Griffiths a chance to demonstrate his dead-ball dexterity but his attempt flew over.Brown’s determined drive into the box saw a shot from Johansen charged down. Mackay-Steven chased the loose ball but Carrizo got there first – just.
Mackay-Steven had another effort blocked in the box as he hosts pushed to complete a remarkable turnaround by the interval.

Instead it was Roberto Mancini’s men who would go in ahead as Gordon was unable to gather a hopeful diagonal ball from Gary Medel on the stretch. As the ball rolled agonisingly from his grasp, Palacio rolled the ball into the empty net. It had been breathless and gripping opening 45 minutes and pattern looked like it would continue into the second half as the Bhoys burst from the blocks, with Bitton testing Carrizo from 30 yards.The match was swinging from end to end. Palacio somehow evaded the offside trap but Gordon was able to scoop up his shot.

However, the Celtic keeper had to be at his best moments later to get a hand to Shaqiri’s shot after he had cut a path into the box.Bitton flashed a shot inches past the post and, after a period of Inter pressure, the Hoops showed their capacity for counter-attacking as Mackay-Steven hared in on goal but saw his effort saved by Carrizo.Driven on by the inspirational Brown, the Scottish champions resumed the offensive, and Johansen had claims for a penalty as he chested a long ball down for Griffiths and seemed to be shoved in the back.

After a succession of corners midway through the half, Brown’s thunderbolt smashed into a ruck of players. Inter broke at speed but the magnificent Armstrong raced back to make a timely challenge.As the game entered the final quarter, there was little let-up to the furious pace. A neat piece of trickery from Mackay-Steven down the right gave Matthews and Brown chances to shoot. Both were blocked.Liam Henderson nearly made a dream introduction from the bench, when a ball from the right dropped for him at the far post. His shot was saved, however.

But deep into stoppage time, they finally broke the away side’s resistance again as Guidetti swept home inside the box to spark delirium in the stands. And as a pulsating match came to a close, there was still time for Gordon to make a stunning late save from a Shaqiri free-kick, bringing to an end one of the most epic European encounters Celtic Park has ever witnessed.

CELTIC (4-2-3-1) Gordon; Matthews (Ambrose 81) Denayer, van Dijk, Izaguirre; Brown, Bitton; Mackay-Steven, Johansen, Armstrong (Henderson 75); Griffiths (Guidetti 75).
Not Used: Zaluska, McGregor, Wakaso, Scepovic

INTERNAZIONALE (4-3-1-2) Carrizo; Santon, Ranocchia, Juan, Campagnaro; Guarin, Medel, Kuzmanovic (Dodo 79); Shaqiri; Palacio, Icardi (Kovacic 75).
Not Used: Handanovic, Vidic, Obi, Dodo, Puscas, Hernanes

CELTIC Vs Inter Milan

Ties to be played:

Thu, 19th February 2015 – HOME
Thu, 26th February 2015 – AWAY


Young Boys v Everton

Torino v Athletic Bilbao

Sevilla v Monchengladbach

Wolfsburg v Sporting

Ajax v Legia

AaB Fodbold v Club Brugge

Anderlecht v Dinamo Moskva

Dnipro v Olympiacos

Trabzonspor v Napoli

Guingamp v Dynamo Kyiv

Villarreal v Salzburg

Roma v Feyenoord

PSV v Zenit

Liverpool v Besiktas

Tottenham v Fiorentina

Celtic v Inter Milan


UEFA Europa League
Maksimir Stadium, Zagreb
Thursday, December 11, 2014

(Pjaca 14, 39, 50, Brozovic 50)

(Commons 23, Scepovic 29, Pivaric o.g. 81)

CELTIC were edged out in a seven-goal thriller by Dinamo Zagreb to end their ultimately successful UEFA Europa League group campaign with a narrow defeat.Marko Pjaca’s composed finish put the hosts ahead in the 14th minute, but Ronny Deila’s men hit back through goals from Commons and Scepovic.Pjaca profited on an untimely slip from Adam Matthews to level the match before the interval, and they were back in front three minutes into the second half thanks to Marcelo Brozovic’s fine strike.Pjaca’s thunderous effort gave them a two-goal cushion to put them in charge, but Celtic rallied in the closing stages and an own goal from Josip Pivaric gave them hope.Scepovic headed against the post as the Bhoys piled on some late pressure but they couldn’t find a late leveller.

However, Celtic’s disappointment will be short-lived, having already booked their place in the knockout stages, and they will learn their opponents in Monday’s draw.With John Guidetti unavailable and Scott Brown and James Forrest rested, changes in personnel were always going to be necessary from Saturday’s league win over Motherwell.Scepovic started in place of Guidetti up front, while Kris Commons replaced Brown, with Stefan Johansen moving back into central midfield.Callum McGregor and Mubarak Wakaso also came into the side, with Anthony Stokes the other player to drop out. The Irishman was named among the substitutes.In an eerily, largely deserted Maksimir Stadium, it was the home side who fashioned the first chance in the second minute. Left-back Josip Pivaric reached the byline and picked out Domagoj Atolic, whose shot was blocked by Efe Ambrose.

McGregor quickly replied with an effort from distance that flew over, before Commons forced home shot-stopper Eduardo into action with a fizzing angled drive after his corner had been cleared back into path.El Aarbi Hilal Soudani then had a goal disallowed for offside after Henriquez’s shot had deflected into his path.Both teams were intent on attack and it made for entertaining fare as the play flowed from end-to-end – but it was the hosts who made the breakthroughArijan Ademi took aim from 20 yards and his effort rebounded perfectly for Pjaca and he calmly rolled the ball into the far corner.The lead lasted than 10 minutes as the Hoops struck back. Wakaso sent McGregor scampering down the right and his powerful cutback was inches away from Scepovic. However, Dinamo could only clear as far as Nir Bitton, who was fouled 25 yards from goal.

Virgil van Dijk, captain for the night, took the free-kick and when his effort looped off the wall, Commons reacted quickest and headed home beyond the stranded Eduardo, much to the joy of the Celtic supporters gathered behind the goal.Back came Dinamo. Pjaca had a shot blocked following a melee in the Celtic box. But the visitors only took another six minutes to turn the game around.Again, it emanated from a set-piece. Commons was caught by Marcelo Brozovic on the edge of the area. The same player took aim from the 20 yards and his curling effort beat Eduardo but cannoned off the bar. Bitton headed the ball back into the mix and Scepovic spun quickly and lashed home.It was then the turn of Zoran Mamic’s side to apply the pressure, and they found another way through six minutes before the break.

Adam Matthews lost his footing in the box when attempting a clearance and Pjacca took full advantage, his shot finding the net via a wicked deflection off Bitton.And it could have been a quick-fire double setback for the Bhoys as Brozovic had space to pull the trigger in the box. His shot was heading towards the far corner but Gordon was equal to the task.Gordon was also the Hoops hero after the interval, throwing out a hand to claw away Soudani’s crisp volley. Moments later, he denied Ademi with a low save at his near post.But even Celtic’s No.1 could do nothing as the Croatian side made it 3-2. Antolic sped down the left and rolled an inviting ball into the middle which Brozovic met perfectly, and his sweet strike whizzed into the corner.

It had been a blistering start to the second half from Dinamo and they only took another two minutes to double their lead as Pjaca’s ferocious strike whizzed into the top corner from 25 yards.Gradually, the Scottish champions regrouped and began to claw their way back into the contest. Bitton teed-up Commons, whose shot was deflected wide, before McGregor drew a comfortable save from Eduardo.And as the game entered its final 10 minutes, they were given renewed hope as Pivaric turned Izaguirre’s cross into his own net while under pressure from Scepovic.Substitutes Anthony Stokes and Liam Henderson tried their luck, before Scepovic headed Stokes’ corner onto the far post, but the home side survived the late barrage to hold onto the three points.But it was still the Celtic fans singing at the final whistle as the Hoops look forward to Monday’s draw for the last 32 of the competition.

CELTIC (4-2-3-1) Gordon; Matthews (Fisher 56), Ambrose, van Dijk, Izaguirre; Bitton, Johansen; McGregor (Henderson 63), Commons, Wakaso (Stokes 76); Scepovic
Not Used: Zaluska, Tonev, Griffiths, O’Connell

DINAMO ZAGREB (4-3-3) Eduardo; Ivo Pinto, Sigali, Taravel (Simunovic 11), Pivaric; Brozovic, Ademi, Antolic; Soudani, Henriquez (Cop 65), Pjaca
Not Used: Mikulic, Paulo Machado, Fernandes, Goncalo Santos, Vukojevic


UEFA Europa League Celtic Park, Glasgow

Thursday, November 27, 2014

CELTIC…1 (Johansen 30,) FC Salzburg…3 (Alan 7, 12, Keita 90+1)

CELTIC qualified for the knockout stages of the UEFA Europa League tonight despite slipping to a 3-1 defeat to FC Salzburg.The Austrians dominated the opening stages and scored two quick goals through Brazilian striker, Alan, within 15 minutes. Stefan Johansen replied for Celtic on the half-hour mark before substitute Naby Keita headed past Craig Gordon in stoppage time.

The defeat was hard to take after such a spirited second-half from the Bhoys, but it was ultimately overtaken by the team’s progression to the last 32 of the tournament after FC Astra beat Dinamo Zagreb 1-0 in Romania.Ronny Deila made four changes from the team that started against Dundee at the weekend, with the most notable inclusion being Leigh Griffiths, who started up front for the Bhoys in place of John Guidetti.

Kris Commons dropped to the bench, the injured Jason Denayer was replaced by Efe Ambrose and Scott Brown returned to the side.Celtic started well, pressing Salzburg high up the pitch but the guests were comfortable in possession and took a shock lead inside the first 10 minutes.Alan, who scored via the aid of a deflection when the sides met in Austria in September, benefited from one again when Massimo Bruno’s shot cannoned off Virgil van Dijk, spun over the Celtic backline and found the Salzburg striker free in the box.

Despite claims for offside, Alan didn’t stop and rattled the ball past a helpless Craig Gordon. It could have been 2-0 seconds later when Andre Ramalho beat the offside trap again to find Martin Hinteregger free in the box, but Gordon reacted well and palmed his header away.Salzburg made no mistake on the 12th minute, however, when a corner was met by Ramalho in the box.

His header at the near post was tucked home by Alan again at the back post, unmarked, to make it 2-0. Celtic were then left furious when Callum McGregor was barged off the ball in the Salzburg box as they sought an immediate reply, but the referee ignored the claims and waved play on.Gordon was then called into action again when Peter Ankerson shot from distance but the Celtic keeper saved well.

The Hoops then broke up the pitch as Emilio Izaguirre played a one-two with Anthony Stokes but the Honduran’s cross into the box was easily saved by Peter Gulacsi. The Bhoys were under the cosh again when a van Dijk slip let the ball run to Ankersen who was then adjudged to have been fouled by Ambrose. Jonatan Soriano took the free-kick, shot and scored, but the goal was ruled out as the set-piece was in-direct and Celtic breathed a sigh of relief.

Salzburg were in confident mood, passing the ball about freely, but their dominance was broken when Celtic sped up the pitch in a fantastic flowing move. Stefan Johansen picked up the ball in midfield and played a pass out wide to Izaguirre. The left-back knocked the ball ahead of his marker, hit the byline and threw in a low cross which Johansen slotted home after setting up the move. Paradise erupted.

The second half started in scrappy fashion, but Celtic’s intentions were clear from the off and they controlled more of the ball but struggled to carve out any openings in a tight Salzburg backline. A string of corners were won by Celtic before play stopped after Mulgrew was caught late but the midfielder returned to the action after receiving treatment.

Celtic were dominant and Ronny Deila brought off Callum McGregor and Stokes for Kris Commons and James Forrest in a bid to make the possession count.The visitors were still dangerous on the break, however, and cut Celtic open with a well-worked corner but Bruno’s pass was too heavy for Alan at the back post. Salzburg were pinned back but defended in numbers. Celtic were still finding pockets of space, however, and went close to claiming an equaliser when Griffiths volleyed towards goal from the edge of the box, but his shot curled just wide.

The Celtic boss then made his final throw of the dice when he replaced Mulgrew with Aleksandar Tonev. The Bulgarian made an instant impact, playing in Izaguirre whose cross found Griffiths free but the striker’s header was saved.However, the Hoops continued to press. Salzburg were camped on the edge of their own box, forcing Celtic to play in front of them but Izaguirre managed to find Johansen in space with a clever through ball.

The Norwegian back-heeled it in return to the left-back but the Honduran’s shot sailed over.The visitors then dealt the Hoops a cruel sucker punch when they hit quickly on the break and Marcel Sabitzer forced Gordon into a good save. The ball fell kindly to Keita, who headed into an empty net.It was a cruel blow at the end of a tough match for the Celtic players but a blow which was softened by the welcome news of secured progression to the knockout stages at full-time.

CELTIC (4-2-3-1) Gordon; Matthews, Ambrose, van Dijk, Izaguirre; Brown, Mulgrew (Tonev 73); McGregor (Forrest 66), Johansen, Stokes (Commons 66); Griffiths. Not used: Zaluska, Bitton, Scepovic, Kayal,.

FC SALZBURG: (4-4-2) Gulacsi; Ankersen (Schwegler 79), Ramalho, Hinteregger, Schmitz; Kampl, Bruno (Keita 70), Ilsanker, Leitgeb; Alan, Soriano (Sabitzer 73). Not used: Walke, Caleta-Car, Laimer.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.


UEFA Europa League Stadionul Marin Anastasovici, Romania

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Celtic…1(Johansen 31)

FC Astra…1 (Amorim 79)

CELTIC were forced to settle for a 1-1 draw in Romania tonight (Thursday) after FC Astra stole a point with a late equaliser in their UEFA Europa League Group D tie.The Bhoys controlled large spells of the game and went ahead through a stunning strike from Stefan Johansen on the half hour mark.Astra came out fighting in the second period, however, and clawed their way back into the game before substitute William Amorim curled an unstoppable shot past Craig Gordon in the Celtic goal to give his team a share of the spoils.

Both teams displayed great tempo in the opening minutes with the poor visibility from the thick fog engulfing the ground forcing each side to play the ball on the deck.Astra started well and pressed Celtic high up the pitch but the Hoops soon began to stamp their authority on the game. Stefan Johansen, deployed in the central attacking midfield role, was the main protagonist for the Bhoys in the first 10 minutes and won the first corner of the match for his side.

He swung the dead ball into the box on top of Silviu Lung in the Astra goal and the keeper was forced to punch clear from under the cross bar. It was an early sign of intent from the Norwegian who then forced Lung into another good save when he collected a cross from Emilio Izaguirre in the box and shot on the turn but the Astra keeper shifted his feet well and palmed the effort away.Celtic’s early dominance forced Astra to play long with a number of searching passes for Joaozinho sent over the Hoops defence but the Bhoys backline stayed tight and covered the danger.

Seidu Yahaya and Constantin Budescu both tried shots from distance but their efforts were gathered easily by Craig Gordon.Sadat Bukari was then booked for a dive in the box after collecting a through ball when it was easier to shoot. Celtic’s compactness at the back gave the Bhoys the platform to play in midfield and they maintained their domination as the half wore on and took the lead on the half hour mark when Johansen received a pass on the edge of the Astra box but was fouled as he turned for goal.Charlie Mulgrew took the proceeding free kick but his left-footed shot hit off the Astra wall.

Johansen was on hand to keep the pressure on, however, and he rattled a first time shot with his left foot as the ball was cleared from the box which sailed into the back of the net after taking a nick off Vassilis Pliatsikas’ back. The goal was deserved on the balance of play and buoyed the Hoops who continued to press until the half-time whistle but the scores stayed at 1-0.Celtic had a chance to double their lead at the start of the second period with Johansen central to the play again. The Norwegian played a clever one-two with Scepovic in the box and the Serb collected Johansen’s return ball but fired his effort well over the bar.

Budescu also went close for the hosts in the opening minutes of the second half but he too sent a shot from close range over Craig Gordon’s bar.Astra were rejuvenated for the second half and continued to create space on the edge of Gordon’s area but the home side’s strikers couldn’t find the target. Celtic soon began to edge back into the half after Astra’s early attempts and resumed the quick and accurate passing which gave them so much joy in the first 45 minutes.Astra were dangerous on the break, however, and Gordon was forced to move quickly to stop a strong effort from Pliatsikas who did well to skip past Wakaso in the box before firing towards goal.

The hosts were on the front foot after the effort and forced Celtic to sit deep to absorb the attacks.Astra then drew level with 10 minutes remaining through substitute William Amorim who collected a stray ball on the corner of the Celtic box before curling a precise shot into the far corner of Gordon’s net. Celtic looked to hit back immediately and almost did so with substitute Leigh Griffiths who did well to round Lung and shoot towards goal but the Astra keeper recovered and pulled off a great save.

Griffiths then thought he had scored what would have been the winner when he fired home inside the six yard box but he was adjudged to have fouled Syam Ben Youssef as the defender jumped to head the bouncing ball and the goal was chopped off. Celtic were pushing for the equaliser and the pressure began to tell on the Astra players as they tried to stop the Hoops’ counter attacks.

Seidu Yahaya was booked for a late challenge on substitute Adam Matthews before a moment of madness from Vincent Laban saw him red-carded for a terrible tackle on Charlie Mulgrew. The Bhoys pushed and pushed for the winner with efforts from Mulgrew and Lustig late on but it couldn’t be found and Ronny Deila’s team had to settle for a draw.

CELTIC (4-2-3-1) Gordon; Lustig, Denayer, van Dijk, Izaguirre; Brown, Mulgrew; Wakaso (Matthews 80), Johansen, McGregor; Scepovic (Griffiths 71). Not used: Zaluska, Ambrose, Bitton, Tonev, Kayal.

FC Astra (4-2-3-1) Lung; Pliatsikas, Youssef, Oros, Morais; Labin, Yahaya (Seto 80); Enache, Budescu (Florescu 61), Joaozinho (Amorim 45), Bukari. Not used: Coman, Chitu, Gaman, Rus,

This slideshow requires JavaScript.


UEFA Europa League Celtic Park, Glasgow

Thursday, October 23, 2014

CELTIC…2 (Scepovic 71, Johansen 77) FC ASTRA…1 (Enache 79)

TWO second-half goals from Celtic were enough to give the Hoops a vital win over FC Astra as the Bhoys maintained their unbeaten run in the UEFA Europa League.A powerful header from Stefan Scepovic and a close-range shot from Stefan Johansen were enough to give Ronny Deila’s side three points, despite a late flurry from the Romanians who pulled a goal back through Gabriel Enache.

The rain which had soaked the pitch in the build-up to the game eased off at kick-off but the wet surface made it difficult for either side to find their passing early on. Emilio Izaguirre, who shook off an injury picked up at the weekend to start for the Bhoys, had some good early link-up play with Anthony Stokes down the left and good pressure from the Irishman on the Astra defence won a corner for the Bhoys in the opening minutes.

The striker floated a precise ball to the edge of the box for Charlie Mulgrew but his header went over. The Bhoys won two more corners in quick succession but it was Astra who next went close with a near post shot from their captain, Constantin Budescu. The striker collected a well-timed through ball over the Celtic defence but he blasted his shot over from close-range. And Astra almost took the lead when a corner found its way to Seidu Yahaya on the edge of the box.

He rifled a shot towards goal which cannoned off Craig Gordon’s chest as Celtic failed to clear the danger and the keeper was forced to save well again, this time from Budescu low to his left.Takayuki Seto then had a chance to open the scoring for the visitors, and arguably should have done so but his close-range effort crept wide. Celtic tried to regain their composure but a spate of slack passing allowed Astra a further set of chances but the Hoops survived despite Enache’s shot whistling inches wide after he collected a stray Mulgrew pass across the defensive line.

The Bhoys then passed up a set of chances as the half crept on. Mikael Lustig carved out three great openings with a trio of crosses into the Astra box, but Stefan Scepovic and Stokes failed to capitalise and the teams went in even at half-time.Celtic began the second-half with a flurry of chances which fell to Scepovic but the Serbian striker couldn’t hit the target. A powerful cross from Izaguirre was fired into the Astra box and it evaded Stefan Johansen before hitting off Scepovic and going wide.

Lustig then created space on the right and guided a ball into the box but the Serbian couldn’t convert, despite rising well to meet the header. Ronny Deila brought off Callum McGregor and replaced him with Aleksander Tonev on the right wing. The Bulgarian soon found himself in space on the edge of the Astra area and rattled a shot goalwards but it hit the side-netting.The Hoops remained in control of the ball as the clocked ticked on and finally made the breakthrough after substitute Mubarak Wakaso won a free-kick on the byline.

Stokes floated a pin-point pass to the back post from the set-piece and Scepovic met it with a towering header which cannoned in off the underside of the crossbar.The Hoops doubled their lead a few minutes later when Tonev fired a low cross into the box which was spilled by Sliviu Lung into the path of Stefan Johansen who smashed a shot high into the net to make it 2-0. Celtic looked in control of proceedings but a counter-attack from Astra allowed Enache to convert from inside the six-yard box despite Izaguirre’s best efforts, to make it 2-1.

A nervy closing 10 minutes ensued as both sides made changes. Beram Kayal came on for Stokes while Astra also made a double switch with Laurentju Rus replacing William Amorim and Vincent Laban making way for George Florescu but it was Ronny Deila’s men who remained on top. Scepovic went close again at the death after Lung spilled a Wakaso cross before the referee blew the whistle seconds later to give Celtic their second win in the group stages, putting the Hoops joint top with seven points.

CELTIC (4-2-3-1) Gordon; Lustig, van Dijk, Denayer, Izaguirre; Brown, Mulgrew (Wakaso 65); McGregor (Tonev 55), Johansen, Stokes (Kayal 76); Scepovic. Not used: Zaluska, Ambrose, Matthews, Griffiths.

FC ASTRA (4-5-1) Lung; Pliatsikas, Youssef, Oros, Morais; Enache, Laban (Florescu 86), Seto (Fatai 76), Yahaya, William Amorim (Rus 85); Budescu. Not used: Coman, Gaman, Chitu, Bukari.

Celtic 1-0 Dinamo Zagreb Matchday 2 Pics Oct 2nd 2014 Group D

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

medium_NTqshhu-Razj456ugisUTkytZ0TJCdkpW4jMF50QNxMUEFA Europa League Celtic Park, Glasgow

Thursday, October 2, 2014


KRIS Commons’ early strike earned Celtic a priceless three points against Dinamo Zagreb to boost their hopes of progressing to the UEFA Europa League knockout stages.Last season’s Player of the Year swept home in the sixth minute after a lovely piece of interplay between him and Anthony Stokes cut open the visitors.The Hoops had to survive some heavy pressure in the second half but, helped by several heroic saves from Craig Gordon, they held firm to move joint top of the group after two games.

Commons, Jason Denayer and Aleksandar Tonev were all restored to the starting XI following the 2-1 win over St Mirren last weekend. Eoghan O’Connell, Callum McGregor and the ineligible John Guidetti dropped out. After a cagey opening five minutes, Celtic made the perfect start as Commons fired them ahead following an incisive passing move. Stefan Johansen and Emilio Izaguirre were involved initially, before Commons collected a return pass from Stokes and lashed a shot beyond Eduardo.

Urged on by a jubilant home support, the Hoops immediately went in search of a second as Tonev shot wide and Izaguirre embarked on a number of enterprising forays down the left.Zoran Mamic’s side failed to threaten until the 19th minute, when Wilson Eduardo headed over unmarked from Ivo Pinto’s cross from the right. However, the Hoops were still enjoying the bulk of possession, patiently probing for further openings, with Commons always a threat through his clever movement and inventive play.

Celtic were looking comfortable but a speculative effort from Wilson Eduardo almost wiped out their advantage, the striker’s ferocious shot from 25 yards cannoning off the bar.At the other end, a nervy looking Eduardo nearly gifted Celtic a second. After being closed down by several Hoops players, he passed straight to Commons inside the six-yard box. He couldn’t react quickly enough, however, much to the shot-stopper’s relief.

As the half wore on, the Croatian champions were looking more menacing – Ivo Pinto and Wilson Eduardo came close with efforts, before the latter forced Gordon into a superb save with a thumping volley. Amidst this spell of pressure, Tonev replied with a shot from distance, which Eduardo coped with comfortably. The keeper had greater difficulty dealing with Virgil van Dijk’s powerful attempt just before the interval but he did enough as Celtic held the advantage at the break.

Commons and Johansen combined moments after the restart and only a last-ditch tackle prevented the Norwegian driving through on goal. Wakaso then cutback the ball back, with no takers.But after this encouraging period of play, the Hoops were forced into some desperate rearguard action.After the visitors had mounted a breakaway from a Celtic corner, Wilson Eduardo was left in acres of space to apply the finish but he was denied by the outstanding Gordon. Arijan Ademi headed over and Domagoj Antolic had a shot blocked by Jason Denayer as the pressure mounted.

A succession of corners at the other end provided some respite but Celtic were back on the defensive again as Denayer had to make a crucial interception to thwart the Croats.Gordon came to Celtic’s rescue again, saving from Marcelo Brozovic, before Wilson Eduardo blazed over.Denayer was close to converting Stokes’ searching free-kick, substitute Leigh Griffiths shot wide and Stokes lofted an ambitious chip over as Celtic offered a response.

But that was the prelude to a late onslaught from Dinamo, with El Arabi Hilal Soudani spurning two late chances to grab a leveller. However, the battling Bhoys held them at bay to seal their first victory of the group stages.

CELTIC (4-2-3-1) Gordon; Ambrose, Denayer, van Dijk, Izaguirre; Brown, Johansen; Tonev (Berget 87), Commons (Kayal 68), Wakaso (Griffiths 77); Stokes Not Used: Zaluska, Henderson, O’Connell, Fisher

DINAMO ZAGREB (4-3-3) Eduardo; Ivo Pinto, Sigali, Simunic, Pivaric; Ademi, Brozovic, Antolic (Coric 74); Soudani, Cop (Henriquez 59), Wilson Eduardo (Pjaca 84) Not Used: Jezina, Machado, Santos, Vukojevic Website Man of the Match: Craig Gordon

Dinamo-Zagreb    NEXT GAME  2 EUROPA LEAGUE …………..

Dinamo Zagreb

This slideshow requires JavaScript.


UEFA Europa League Salzburg

Thursday, September 18, 2014

CELTIC…2 Wakaso 14, Brown 60 FC SALZBURG…2 Alan 36, Soriano 78

GOALS from debutant Mubarak Wakaso and captain Scott Brown sealed a deserved share of the spoils for Celtic in their opening UEFA Europa League match away to FC Salzburg.Wakaso’s sublime finish from 20 yards inside the opening 15 minutes gave him and the Scottish champions a dream start in Austria, though their lead didn’t last to half-time thanks to Alan’s deflected finish for the home side.An entertaining and enthralling match swung from end to end, before Brown’s long-range volley had the Hoops in front again on the hour mark.

Craig Gordon was in inspired form for Celtic between the sticks, performing heroics on several occasions to repel Salzburg. However, he could do nothing to prevent Jonatan Soriano salvaging a point for the home side with an unstoppable free-kick 12 minutes from time. Wakaso’s inclusion in the starting XI was the only change from the team who defeated Aberdeen 2-1 on Sunday, with Aleksandar Tonev the player to drop out. He was named among the substitutes.And it didn’t take long for the winger to make an impact.

Just 14 minutes into the match, he received a pass from Kris Commons on the left and swept a first-time shot beyond Peter Gulacsi into the far corner. It was a sublime finish from the Ghanaian and the first serious shot on goal in the game which had started in cagey fashion. A deflected drive from Scott Brown and a rising shot from Marcel Sabitzer were the only incidents of note in the opening exchanges. But once the Bhoys made the breakthrough the game became more expansive as the hosts sought a leveller and Celtic countered.

Kevin Kampl came close to a quick reply, curling a shot inches wide from the edge of the area, before Salzburg talisman Soriano forced Craig Gordon into action at his near post from a free-kick Callum McGregor’s pinpoint pass then released Brown in the box but the midfielder could only drag his shot wide.Celtic had restricted the home side to trying their luck from distance until the half-hour mark when a wonder save from Gordon left them holding their heads in disbelief.Soriano flighted in a free-kick from the left and Andre Ramalho met it perfectly at the far post, sending his header arrowing towards the far corner.

It looked destined for the net but somehow the Scotland internationalist leapt to his right and tipped it wide of the post. However, the Hoops shot-stopper could do nothing as Adolf Hutter’s side equalised nine minutes before the interval. Alan was sent scurrying clear by Soriano and the striker’s shot deflected off Ambrose and spun over the helpless Gordon.Galvanised by their goal, the Austrian side pushed forward as half-time approached, with Sabitzer lashing a shot narrowly wide, but the visitors held firm.

Further pressure would come in their direction following the restart, and Gordon had to produce a stunning double save to keep the score all square First, he pushed away Sabitzer’s low drive and he reacted quickly to keep out the rebound from Alan His team-mates were quick to show their appreciation. However, Ronny Deila’s side still looked menacing when they attacked and an audacious attempt from Stefan Scepovic almost restored their advantage.Taking Kris Commons’ path in his stride on the right touchline he hammered the ball towards the target and Gulacsi was relieved to see the ball find the side-netting.

But the keeper was soon picking the ball out of his net as Brown put the Bhoys in charge again. McGregor’s cross was only partially cleared and the skipper’s volley deflected off Ramalho beyond Gulasci.Chances continued to fall at either end as this gripping encounter entered its latter stages. Alan’s shot skimmed the outside of the post, before Anthony Stokes was denied by a last-ditch tackle after combing with Commons. Wakaso remained a productive outlet for the Hoops, particularly as gaps opened up for him to exploit. And one explosive burst of pace saw him leave one defender for dead and setup McGregor in the box.

His shot was blocked, however.But with 12 minutes left on the clock, Soriano showed his dead-ball prowess by restoring parity for the second time. The Spanish striker’s dipping and swerving strike from 30 yards was inch perfect. Even Gordon was unable to reach it.Wakaso could have won it as the clock ticked down after being released by Johansen but he could’t profit. However, on the whole, it had been a satisfying night for the Bhoys.

CELTIC (4-2-3-1) Gordon; Ambrose, Denayer, van Dijk, Izaguirre; Brown, Johansen (Kayal 92) McGregor, Commons (Tonev 75) Wakaso; Scepovic (Stokes 67) Not Used: Zaluska, O’Connell, Bitton, Berget

FC SALZBURG (4-4-2) Gulacsi; Schwegler, Ramalho, Hinteregger, Ulmer (Ankersen 82); Kampl, Leitgeb, Ilsanker, Sabitzer; Alan, Soriano Not Used: Walke, Schmitz, , Keita, Lazaro, Quaschner,Burno

Europe Qualifiers /Champions League/Europa League 


Group Stage draw 2014/15
FC Salzberg ................(AUSTRIA)
CELTIC FC.....................(SCOTLAND)
Dinamo Zagreb ..... (CROATIA)
FC Astra ........................(ROMANIA)
Thu,18th Sep
FC Salzburg
  Europa League
Thu,2nd Oct
Dinamo Zagreb
 Europa League
Thu,23rd Oct
FC Astra
           Europa League
Thu,6th Nov
FC Astra
            Europa League
Thu,27th Nov
FC Salzburg
     Europa League
Thu,11th Dec
Dinamo Zagreb
Europa League


UEFA Champions League play-off second-leg

Celtic Park, Glasgow
Tuesday, August 26, 2014


(Tavares 75)

CELTIC’S UEFA Champions League dream is over for this season after a narrow 1-0 reversal to NK Maribor in Paradise consigned them to a 2-1 aggregate defeat in the play-off round.Striker Tavares struck the only goal for the visitors 15 minutes from time, sending a spinning shot beyond Craig Gordon after the Hoops failed to clear a cross from the left.The Scottish champions had earlier hit the bar through Callum McGregor but it was to be a frustrating evening for them as their desperate late attacks proved in vain.Celtic will now enter the Europa League group stages, with the draw taking place on Friday.

Ronny Deila largely kept faith with the same team that drew 1-1 away to NK Maribor, making just the one change, with Efe Ambrose coming into the side at the expense of Jason Denayer. The young Belgian defender was named among the substitutes.Paradise was packed-out for the occasion and there was a deafening roar at the start as the teams entered the pitch and lined up for the familiar UEFA Champions League music.And the volume was raised even higher in the opening minutes as the hosts made a positive start, coming within inches of taking the lead in the fourth minute.

Jo Inge Berget, such an effective attacking presence in the first leg, made progress down the left and reached the byline. He dug out a low cross which was almost turned into his own net by Marko Suler.Fresh from his first Scotland call-up, McGregor was brimming with confidence and heavily involved in the Hoops’ early attacking forays.And after one incisive burst inside from the right, the 21-year-old tried his luck from distance but Aleksander Rajcevic was able to make the block.As the pressure continued on the visitors’ goal, Berget was felled in the box by Petar Stojanovic but referee Viktor Kassai was unmoved.

Having absorbed the initial Celtic onslaught, Ante Simundza’s side began to grow into the contest and enjoy greater spells of possession.The dangerous Agim Ibraimi was first to threaten with a vicious shot from 30 yards that whistled narrowly wide. Moments later, Tavares burst clear in the box but the striker was denied by a brilliant block from Ambrose.The Nigerian defender made another important intervention to thwart Ibraimi after the Slovenian side broke quickly down the left.McGregor was looking the most capable source of invention for the home side and, after a neat piece of footwork, he crossed towards Berget and earned a corner.

From the resultant set-piece, Virgil van Dijk headed inches beyond the far post.But the tension was growing among the home support as Gordon was forced into a diving save to push Mitja Viler’s swerving shot to safety. The rebound dropped for Tavares but he couldn’t react quickly enough to profit.Urged on by Ronny Deila on the touchline and the Hoops faithful, the Scottish champions attempted to rally as half-time approached but they couldn’t fashion any meaningful opportunities as the Maribor backline held firm, leaving the match in the balance at the interval,Seeking further creative spark from his side, the manager introduced Kris Commons for the restart in place of Beram Kayal.

And the 30-year-old was soon causing the visitors a new headache with his movement and link-up play in the final third. As he tried to combine with Stokes, Rajcevic hauled him back. Remarkably, the referee failed to penalise the defender and Commons saw yellow for his protests.But he was soon joined in the book by Suler and Rajcevic as Celtic forced their opponents into some desperate defending.The tide was turning back in Celtic’s favour – Ambrose steered Stokes’ free-kick wide and after another set-piece from the Irishman was flicked on, van Dijk was agonisingly close to getting his boot to the ball.

In the 56th minute, the woodwork came to Maribor’s rescue as Stokes’ cutback from the left was turned on to the bar from close-range by McGregor.There was a real intensity and purpose to Celtic’s play now as they maintained the offensive, with Commons’ ferocious drive fizzing over.But a goal remained elusive and Maribor capitalised by taking the lead at the other end. The Hoops failed to deal with a cross from the left and Tavares knocked in the loose ball.That forced the Hoops to commit more men forward, leaving them exposed at the back and Gordon had to make a super stop from Jean-Philippe Mendy, while Tavares blazed over.

But the home side couldn’t conjure up a late leveller at the other end as Ambrose headed wide from Stokes’ free-kick and van Dijk saw a volley saved by Handanovic deep into stoppage time as the night ended in disappointment.

CELTIC (4-3-3) Gordon; Ambrose, Lustig (Boerrigter 72), van Dijk, Izaguirre; Kayal (Commons 46) Mulgrew, Johansen; McGregor, Stokes, Berget (Matthews 65)
Not Used: Zaluska, Denayer, Bitton, Griffiths

NK MARIBOR (4-4-2) Handanovic; Stojanovic, Rajcevic, Suler, Viler; Vrsic (Bohar 82) Filipovic, Mertelj, Ibrami; Tavares, Mendy (Dervisevic 90+2)
Not Used: Cotman, Mejac, Arghus, Sallalich, , Zahovic


UEFA Champions League
Stadion Ljudski vrt
Wednesday, August 20, 2014

NK Maribor…1
(Damjan Bohar 13)

(Callum McGregor 6)

CELTIC won a share of the spoils in Slovenia tonight after a hard-fought draw with NK Maribor in the first leg of their UEFA Champions League play-off.The Hoops took an early lead through Callum McGregor after good work from Jo-Inge Berget forced Jasmin Handanovic into a save but were pegged back by Damjan Bohar shortly after.Celtic boss Ronny Deila made a two changes going into the match following the emphatic 6-1 victory over Dundee United at the weekend.

Mikael Lustig and Beram Kayal both started as the manager opted for a 4-3-3 over his favoured 4-2-3-1.The Hoops opened the game well, passing patiently through defence and midfield as they studied the Maribor defence for an opening and it wasn’t long before they found it.Jo-Inge Berget showed good determination down the Maribor left to win the ball and poke a shot at Handanovic in the Maribor goal. The keeper stopped the effort but his save fell kindly for Callum McGregor who wasted no time in scoring his third European goal for Celtic and setting the Hoops on their way.

The Bhoys piled on the pressure and almost went two up but Anthony Stokes’ cross from the left was cleared by the home team.Maribor looked content to sit in, despite Celtic’s positive and pressing opening. Their patience soon paid dividends, however, when they dragged themselves equal through Damjan Bohar.The left-winger capitalised on a defensive slip from the Hoops, latching onto a deflected through ball before slotting low past Craig Gordon to make it 1-1 within 15 minutes.

Play resumed at the same frantic pace with which the game opened. Maribor camped in their own half, allowing Celtic possession and time to pick their passes. The Bhoys took advantage of that and tried to pry the home side’s defence apart by drawing them out and attempting to play a killer pass.The Scottish champions enjoyed their best spell of the half shortly after with a succession of corners down the Maribor right.Good work from Lustig and Stefan Johansen continued to win the set-pieces and the Hoops went close with the second corner after Charlie Mulgrew flashed a header from the back post to the front before the chance was cleared off the line.

Virgil van Dijk then had his own effort cleared off the line from an Antony Stokes corner but the header struck the back of Stefan Johansen and Maribor breathed a sigh of relief.The home side began to edge their way back into the game and threatened through a flow of their own corners.Craig Gordon stood strong though, particularly so when blocking a rasping shot from Agim Ibraimi, and the sides went in even at half time.The second half began with Celtic under pressure from Maribor as the home side looked to turn the tie round.

In a reverse of their first half tactics, the Slovenian champions pressed high up the pitch and deep in Celtic territory.The Hoops were struggling to retain possession in the wake of the new approach from Maribor and were forced to sit tight in their own half.The hosts soon began to test Craig Gordon in goal, with goal-scorer Bohar the main architect of their opportunities.Celtic weathered the storm however and began to ease the pressure by playing long passes to Stokes. The Irishman did well to hold up the ball and bring his teammates into the game but he was smothered by the Maribor defence.

The home side were still dangerous on the break, however, and caught Celtic out with a clever pass which found Ibraimi in space in the box, but the talisman’s strike was saved well by Gordon.Stokes had to watch another shot go agonisingly wide soon after, as the game opened up and both sides became stretched.Johansen then had the best chance of the half for Celtic with a determined run through the middle of the pitch from his own half but Handanovic raced out to thwart the Norwegian, just as he was set to pull the trigger.

Ronny Deila replaced Berget with Efe Ambrose on 73 minutes and Celtic then had a penalty claim after Kayal was felled in the box but the referee waved play on.Maribor went all out for the win by bringing on Jean-Philippe Mendy for Dare Virsic, and Sintayehu Sallalich on for Bohar.The changes worked as the fresh legs gave the home team more pace but Virgil can Dijk still had space to fire in a rocket from 30 yards out which was tipped over by Handanovic.Maribor made their final change as the game drew to a close, with Amir Dervisevic making way for Ales Mertelj before Celtic also swapped Stokes for Leigh Griffiths.

The home side continued to press but Celtic stood resolute in defence, with van Dijk clearing corner after corner before the Hoops finally won the ball back deep in Maribor’s half.Nir Bitton replaced Kayal as the seconds ebbed away and the travelling fans were then left elated after the final whistle blew, signalling a positive result for the Hoops to take back to Celtic Park next week.

CELTIC (4-3-3) Gordon; Lustig, Denayer, Van Dijk, Izaguirre; Mulgrew, Johansen; Kayal (Bitton 90); McGregor, Berget (Ambrose 73), Stokes (Griffiths 80)
Not used: Zaluska, Henderson,Commons, Pukki

NK Maribor (4-4-2) Handanovic; Stojanovic, Rajcevic, Suler, Viler; Vrsic (Mendy 73), Filipovic, Dervisevic (Mertelj 80), Bohar (Sallalich 78); Ibraimi, Tavares (C)


UEFA Champions League third qualifying round second leg
BT Murrayfield Stadium, Edinburgh

Wednesday, August 6, 2014


(Zyro 36, Kucharczyk 61)

CELTIC’S UEFA Champions League dreams are over for this season after a 2-0 loss to Legia Warsaw at the BT Murrayfield Stadium consigned them to a comprehensive aggregate defeat in the third qualifying round.
Trailing 4-1 from the first-leg in Poland, Ronny Deila’s men always faced an uphill task to turn the tie around and goals in either half from Michal Zyro and Michal Kucharczyk put paid to their hopes.

However, it doesn’t spell an end to the Hoops’ European adventure for the campaign as they go into Friday’s Europa League draw at the play-off stage The manager had made three changes to the team who started in Poland, with Emilio Izaguirre, Nir Bitton and Anthony Stokes coming into the side at the expense of the suspended Efe Ambrose, Jo Inge Berget and Teemu Pukki.

Backed by a boisterous home support, the Hoops started at a high tempo, moving the ball around at pace and closing down their opponents at the earliest opportunity.But the visitors repelled the Scottish champions’ early forward raids and then highlighted their own threat on the counter-attack as Ivica Vrdolljak and Lukasz Broz found the target with shots, though Fraser Forster saved both with ease.Celtic’s most likely route to profit in the opening exchanges looked to be down the right flank as Callum McGregor and Adam Matthews linked up to good effect on several occasions.

Matthews hit the byline but saw his cutback smothered by Dusan Kuciak, while a lovely piece of skill from McGregor saw him dance away from his marker and then set up Charlie Mulgrew on the edge of the box. But the stand-in skipper couldn’t find a way past Kuciak with his curling effort. McGregor was continuing his fine early season form and he was next to threaten, firing over after Izaguirre’s cross had rolled invitingly into his path.Celtic won a succession of corners around the half-hour mark as they started to build some momentum but they couldn’t capitalise as the Polish outfit defended resolutely.

And their task became even more daunting in the 36th minute as Henning Berg’s side opened the scoring. From a long ball over the top, the speedy Michal Zyro won a race with Izaguirre and clinically found the far corner.As Ronny Deila’s men attempted to mount a swift response, Virgil van Dijk headed wide from Kris Commons’ set-piece, but as the players went in at the break they knew they had it all to do in the second half.Five minutes after the restart, Commons flighted in a free-kick that was only partially cleared. The same player struck the rebound but he couldn’t generate sufficient power on the shot.

Stokes then forced a diving save from Kuciak after cutting inside and Commons saw another attempt dribble past the far post.But then the Hoops were dealt a hammer blow as Kucharczyk doubled Legia’s lead on the night to effectively kill off the tie, the winger rounding Forster and finding the net.A frustrated Celtic were now staring at the exit door, but they continued to look for a reply, with a flurry of shots blocked from distance, including one from Stefan Johnasen.McGregor gamely persevered as he tried his luck twice from distance, and substitute James Forrest saw a powerful drive blocked by Kuciak but there would be no reward for the Hoops on a disappointing night in the capital.

CELTIC (4-4-1-1) Forster; Matthews, Lustig (Griffiths 57), van Dijk, Izaguirre; McGregor, Bitton, Mulgrew, Johansen; Commons (Forrest 70; Stokes (Pukki 70)
Not Used: Zaluska, Henderson, Kayal, Berget

EGIA WARSAW (4-2-3-1) Kuciak; Broz, Astiz, Rzeziniczak, Brzski; Jodlowiec, Vrodoljak; Zyro (Bereszynski 86) Duda (Pinto 86), Kucharczyk (Kosecki 74); Radovic
Not Used: Kalocha, Junior, Saganowski, Sa


UEFA Champions League third qualifying round

Pepsi Arena, Warsaw, Poland
Wednesday July 30, 2014

Radovic 9, 35, Zyro 83, Kosecki 90

McGregor 7

CELTIC have it all to do in their UEFA Champions League third qualifying round after losing 4-1 to Legia Warsaw on a humid night in Poland.The Hoops opened the scoring on seven minutes through Callum McGregor but were pegged back instantly by Miroslav Radovic on nine minutes.

Another strike in the first half from the Polish champions, followed by another two in late in the second half, sandwiched between two penalty misses for the hosts, sealed the spoils for the hosts, leaving Celtic with a mountain to climb in Edinburgh.McGregor’s early strike for Celtic was well-deserved and well-taken. The winger cut inside a defender onto his favoured left foot and curled the ball past Dusan Kuciak to give the Bhoys an early lead.

The old adage that teams are most vulnerable when they have just scored was proven to be true as Legia broke up the pitch almost from the restart and scored an equaliser through their star man Radovic.His low shot at Forster’s near post evaded the big ‘keeper and the scores were level. Niggling fouls from the Polish champions punctuated play after the early goals but Celtic continued to build through patient passing.

Space then opened up for Commons 30 yards out after good work from Stefan Johansen. The Player of the Year dropped his left shoulder and sent Astiz the wrong way but his right-footed shot went just over the bar.Celtic won a corner after Lustig’s attempted cross was put out of play, shortly after. Commons’ ball to the back post was flicked away by Kuciak in the Legia goal but Berget returned the ball into the box and his cross was cleared.

The Hoops carved out another opening on 34 minutes after a clever flick from Commons set Pukki running towards the Legia box. He controlled the bobbling ball well but was eventually muscled off it as he let his shot go and the chance went wide.Celtic were made to pay for the missed opportunity moments later when Radovic doubled his tally and his team’s lead.

A low ball across the Celtic six yard box was only half cleared by Efe Ambrose and the Serbian dangerman was on hand to dispatch the ball into the net, despite Lustig’s efforts on the line.McGregor almost pulled his side back into the game with a low shot from just outside the box but his curling effort was saved at the far post by Kuciak.

Celtic were then left a man down after the referee adjudged Ambrose to have fouled Radovic on the 18-yard-line. The Nigerian centre-back had lunged in on the Legia playmaker in a last ditch bid to halt his run but was shown red for the tackle as the ref saw him as the last man.Celtic defended the free kick well and the half time whistle was blown shortly after.

Teemu Pukki made way for Beram Kayal at half time as Celtic looked to shore up their depleted side following the sending off while Legia returned to the pitch unchanged.Commons was pushed up front as Celtic went 4-4-1 in a bid to get back into the game. He soon won a corner and flighted the ball in which led to panic in the Legia box but the home side managed to clear the ball.

Legia almost added to their lead on 53 minutes after Zyro carved out space for himself in the Celtic box. His pass found Radovic but Forster did well to stick out an arm and save his shot well.The home side were offered another chance on 57mins when the ref blew for a Mulgrew foul in the box.

Legia were awarded the penalty but Vdoljak sent the spot kick wide to Forster’s left.Celtic made another change on the hour mark following the penalty drama and a break in play. Debutant Berget made way for Izaguirre and Matthews was pushed out to the right wing.The man advantage for Legia made it difficult for Celtic to retain possession but the endeavour was still there from the men in green.McGregor did well to win a throw in down the left but he was flagged offside.

The Hoops then pressed for the equaliser through a succession of set pieces.A foul on Izaguirre started the section of play after Commons’ cross from the free kick was cleared for a corner. The ball in was played clear for another corner which was this time played through Johansen, McGregor and then Izaguirre on the edge of the box.

The Honduran left-back’s cross found Commons in the box but he was flagged offside and the move broke down.A break in play then allowed both teams to make changes. Griffiths replaced Commons and Legia made their own swap with Kosecki coming on for Kucharczyk.Good skill from Radovic on the Celtic left then won a corner for Legia. Izaguirre scrambled clear from the resultant melee but the danger remained as Legia pressed for another.

Legia added to their lead seven minutes from full time after a period of pressure on the Hoops defence. The home side won a corner and the ball in from Radovic found Zyro free in the six-yard box.His flicked header went past Forster and put Legia 3-1 up. The home side were then awarded another penalty minutes later when Mulgrew was booked for a seemingly innocuous challenge in the box on Rzezniczak.
Vdoljak stepped up again and sent his shot to Forster’s left but the record-breaking keeper got down well to save the spot-kick.However, the Englishman had to pick the ball out of his net again as the clock ticked down. A quick break caught Celtic exposed and a cross into the box found Kosecki who scored calmly past Forster to make it 4-1 and leave the Scottish champions with an uphill task to progress in the tie.

CELTIC (4-2-3-1) Forster, Matthews, Ambrose (red card), van Dijk, Lustig, Johansen, Mulgrew (C), Commons (Griffiths 74), Berget (Izaguirre 60), McGregor, Pukki (Kayal 45)

LEGIA WARSAW (4-2-3-1) Kuciak; Broz, Astiz, Rzeziniczak, Brzski; Jodlowiec, Vrodoljak; Zyro (Bereszynski 86) Duda (Pinto 86), Kucharczyk (Kosecki 74); Radovic
Not Used: Kalocha, Junior, Saganowski, Sa


UEFA Champions League second round qualifier

BT Murrayfield, Edinburgh, Scotland

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Van Dijk 13, 20 Pukki 27, 71


CELTIC strolled confidently into the next round of the UEFA Champions League qualifiers with a resounding 4-0 (5-0 on aggregate) victory over KR Reykjavik at BT Murrayfield in Edinburgh tonight.The Hoops controlled the game from the first whistle and took the lead early through Virgil van Dijk, who soon added another before Teemu Pukki bagged a brace for himself.

Within the first five minutes the Hoops had a great chance to take the lead when Pukki beat the offside trap at the right side of the box and raced in on goal.Magnusson, so impressive for the Icelandic champions in the first leg, saved his team’s blushes though and stood up well to the Finn’s shot. Leigh Griffiths followed up the save and forced the KR keeper into another early block, this time leading to a corner.

The vocal Celtic support behind Kris Commons willed the ball in but his cross led to nothing and KR retained possession.Celtic’s aim was clear and the pressure continued creating the opening goal after winning another corner on 12 minutes.Commons floated the ball to the back post and found Mulgrew, whose header back across goal found van Dijk who cushioned the ball over the line from two yards out to make it 1-0.
The Icelandic champions tried to respond immediately but a headed effort from Kjartan Finnbogasson went over and led to the former Celtic player writhing on the ground in agony with an shoulder injury. Play stopped and the teams regrouped after a frantic start.KR threatened the Celtic goal quickly after the game restarted with a break down the right from their main danger man, Gary Martin. His pass found Saversson but the striker’s low shot hit the side netting.

Celtic responded immediately by winning another corner on 20 minutes. Commons once again delivered and once again found Mulgrew, but his pass this time fell to Lustig at the back post. He headed it back across goal and van Dijk was on hand again to nod the ball home again for the Scottish Champions.And it wasn’t long before Celtic had another, this time through Teemu Pukki.

Izaguirre’s ball to McGregor down the left flank opened up play for the Hoops and his first time ball into the box found the Finn who slotted calmly past Magnusson in the KR goal to make it 3-0 on 27 minutes.Celtic were controlling the game the play and had KR pinned in their own half, forcing them into long balls over the top or misplaced passes.

The Hoops went close to adding to their lead through Pukki who collected a clever through ball from Johansen in midfield. He ran at the KR defence again before lashing a right-footed shot past the far post.The referee added only one minute at the end of the half but it was still time enough for Celtic to threaten the KR goal mouth again but Griffith’s flicked ball from the right side of the box escaped the Celtic attack and drifted wide to end the half.

The Hoops started the second half brightly, forcing KR to camp out on their 18-yard-line.Another good save from Magnusson led to a quickly-taken Celtic corner which Mulgrew rose well to meet but his pass never found Pukki.

The visitors made their first change on 55mins, bringing Zato-Arouna on for Saversson in a bid to get back into the game but Celtic looked the more likely to threaten again with Commons testing Magnusson from long-range.The home side made a double substitution shortly after, with Beram Kayal and Adam Matthews coming on for Griffiths and Izaguirre respectively on the hour mark.

Commons made Magnusson work again with another fine shot from the edge of the box just after the change and the save left the KR keeper struggling. He was soon on his feet to defend the corner, though, and collected well from Commons’ set-piece.Good work from Pukki on the halfway line to win the ball then led to another swift attack down the inside right as the Finn raced down on goal again. He played a ball across the box to Commons but the pass was intercepted on the edge of the box and move broke down.

The home of Scottish rugby was soon rocking again, though, after a slip from Magnusson outside his box allowed Pukki to round the stranded keeper and power home a rasping finish to make it 4-0.He was then substituted for youngster Liam Henderson, taking a well-earned ovation from the Celtic support.KR made another change with Balbi coming off for Johnsson before Commons varied his attempts to get on the score sheet with an acrobatic volley in the box but his shot sailed over the bar.

Celtic continued to press as the game drew to a close, with Commons sitting up front but the Player of the Year couldn’t find the net despite his best efforts.The referee added three minutes injury-time which gave KR a chance in the dying second but Forster gathered well from the Icelandic side’s captain before the referee blew for the final whistle.

CELTIC (4-2-3-1) Forster; Lustig, Ambrose, van Dijk, Izaguirre (Matthews); Johansen, Mulgrew; Griffiths (Kayal), Commons, McGregor; Pukki (Henderson)
Subs: Zaluska, Bitton, Boerrigter, Watt.

KR Reykjavik: Magnusson; Sigurdsson, Hauksson, Balbi; Gunnarsson; Martin, B. Siggurdsson, Finnbogason; Atlason; Saversson, Josepsson


UEFA Champions League second round qualifier
KR-Vollur, Reykjavik, Iceland

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

McGregor 84


CELTIC made the perfect start to their UEFA Champions League campaignwith a 1-0 win over Icelandic champions KR Reykjavik.Manager Ronny Deila named a strong starting line up in his first competitive match and handed a first team debut to U20s star Callum McGregor in midfield.The 21-year-old formed part of an attacking three alongside Kris Commons and Leigh Griffiths, who sat behind Stokes, and he was the man who eventually sealed victory for the Hoops.

Celtic pressed well the entire game but struggled to find a way past a resolute KR defence but McGregor’s brilliant individual effort on 84mins was enough to secure victory in Ronny Deila’s first competitive game.The youngster was at the forefront of Celtic’s play from the beginning and threatened first for the away side, winning Celtic’s first free kick of the game on the edge of the box after good skill drew a foul from the KR defence.

Mulgrew’s chipped ball to the back post found van Dijk but his header skimmed off the back of his head and out for a goal kick.The Hoops held the ball well in the first 10 minutes, dominating possession and pressing high in the KR half.Lustig created a number of chances with crosses from the right but the packed KR defence cleared well every time.Another early chance came from Kris Commons when the Player of the Year reminded everyone why he has that title. The attacker rattled the KR cross bar with an incredible volley that dipped beyond Stefan Magnusson in the KR goal and almost put Celtic in the lead.

Commons had another chance minutes later with a stinging shot to the KR keeper’s left post. Magnusson struggled to hold on to the effort and the ball went wide for a Celtic corner, which was eventually cleared.The Hoops controlled the game in the first half with Mulgrew pulling the strings. He tried a variation of passes in a bid to pull apart the KR defence but the home side defended well.

Celtic maintained the ball well in midfield as KR looked to hit on the break through Gary Martin and Emil Atlason. The former had the best chance for the Icelandic champions on 23 minutes, when he gathered well outside the Celtic box but his low effort was watched all the way by Forster who gathered easily.Martin threatened again after latching on to a long ball over the Celtic defence but was flagged offside.

Celtic continued to push for the opener with every player getting involved in the action.Wonderful one-touch passing from Commons and Stokes carved out an opening for the Irishman on the edge of the box but his volley went over the bar.The first half ended there, with Celtic frustrated by a resolute KR defence – passing and pressing well but not finding the breakthrough.
The Hoops came out unchanged for the second half in terms of personnel but the style of play was completely different.Celtic came out flying after a brief attack from KR, with Commons lashing a right footed shot just over. Griffiths had a volley just over the bar form the resulting corner but Commons was on hand again to to see his effort go over also.Shot after shot rained down on the KR goal but Celtic couldn’t find the opener.

Ronny Deila brought Teemu Pukki and Derk Boerrigter on to liven the attack but Commons remained the main protagonist with a number of efforts that could have put the Hoops into the lead.However, it was debutant McGregor who eventually broke the deadlock.The youngster showed great endeavour down the Celtic right flank and cut inside his defender onto his left foot.

He feigned to shoot three times before eventually unleashing an unstoppable effort, low into the KR goal to give Celtic the lead.Celtic continued to press in search of a second and McGregor came close again but his shot from the edge of the box was blocked well.The champions controlled the game until the final whistle as KR’s players began to tire in the face of the relentless onslaught.

The Icelandic side found the energy for one last effort into the Celtic box but, fittingly, McGregor was on hand to smash the ball clear and stop the danger for Celtic.The Hoops now take a precious 1-0 lead into the home leg next Tuesday at the BT Murrayfield Stadium, where a home backing could fire the Scottish Champions to a much higher scoring victory.

CELTIC (4-2-3-1) Forster; Lustig, Ambrose, van Dijk, Izaguirre; Johansen, Mulgrew; Griffiths (Boerrigter 73), Commons, McGregor; Stokes (Pukki 73).
Not used: Zaluska, Matthews, Henderson, Kayal, O’Connell.

Europe Qualifiers /Champions League/Europa League 2014-15

Celtics Champions League Adventure 2013-14

During the Season im going to be adding all the champions league media here ,,,pics,video,opinions,match reports all things the 2013-14 champions league campaign,as well as posting on the main page so everythings in the one place…last seasons adventure into europe was one to remember and youd think it couldnt be topped but at thurs draw celtic were put in the most exciting off all 8 groups being drawn with barcelona ac milan and ajax,i really have no fear off any off these teams as weve played and competed with all 3 in recent times..

i think for sheer glamour and prestige all 4 clubs will be delighted with the draw,i couldnt have asked for a better draw in terms off the teams we could have got ..i had a wee thing about real madrid but other than that im delighted,celtic and celtics fans will make all 6 games very special indeed especially at home..

throughout the campaign ill have a wee prediction or 2 prior to games ..match report pics and vids after and opinion,1 week ago some people doubted we would even be here,i was never in doubt,30 odd yrs off celtic hardens yer resolve and memorys off famous turnarounds spring to mind,im in my 44 yr now and ive plenty memories off a team who never gives up,for the younger fans its maybe easy to be critical after a few bad results..i was there 30 odd yrs ago ,but like i said experience off our famous team hardens yer resolve and gives the faith needed to overcome ..

we can all settle down now the hard works been done .we are in the champions league ….lets just enjoy 6 glamour games with the thunder inside paradise this is again going to be a season to remember hh GOD BLESS


Celtic will begin their UEFA Champions League group stage campaign with an away game against AC Milan.The Italian giants welcome Neil Lennon’s men to the San Siro on Wednesday, September 18.Celtic will then host a double header with Barcelona and Ajax on Tuesday, October 1 and October 22 respectively.

The second half of the tournament sees the Scottish champions travel to Amsterdam on Wednesday, November 6, before their final home game of Group H against AC Milan on Tuesday, November 26.They then finish the group stage campaign away to Barcelona on Wednesday, December 11.

Celtic’s Champions League fixtures in full

Wednesday, September 18
AC Milan v Celtic

Tuesday, October 1
Celtic v Barcelona

Tuesday, October 22
Celtic v Ajax

Wednesday, November 6
Ajax v Celtic

Tuesday, November 26
Celtic v AC Milan

Wednesday, December 11
Barcelona v Celtic  

7 Responses to Europe 2014-19

  1. Pingback: Europe 2014-19 | The Celtic Footsoldiers | The Celtic Footsoldiers

  2. Pingback: Europe 2014-19 | The Celtic Footsoldiers

  3. Pingback: Europe 2014-18 | The Celtic Footsoldiers

  4. Pingback: Europe 2014-17 | The Celtic Footsoldiers

  5. Pingback: The Celtic Footsoldiers Has Moved to WordPress From | The Celtic Footsoldiers

  6. Thanks for which makes it easy enough so even I can understand it.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.