Match Reports 2014-18

 


Scottish Premiership
Rugby Park, Kilmarnock
Saturday, August 19, 2017

KILMARNOCK…0
CELTIC…2
(Forrest 39, McGregor 87)

GOALS from James Forrest and Callum McGregor ensured Celtic extended their undefeated domestic run to 52 games away to Kilmarnock after two moments of magic from Tom Rogic created golden opportunities for the pair to score.

 

Forrest, who was again tasked with leading the Hoops attack, converted from close range in the 39th minute after Rogic’s quick footwork inside the box saw him weave through the Kilmarnock defence and cut the ball back for him to score.

 

Celtic had to overcome a stubborn Kilmarnock defence at Rugby Park, but the Hoops dominated possession and Rogic’s creative flair came to light again when he set McGregor up in the 83rd minute for the second of the afternoon and to seal another three points for the Scottish treble-winners.

 

Brendan Rodgers made six changes to the side that dominated Astana 5-0 in the UEFA Champions League play-off first-leg in midweek with Forrest taking over the striking duties from Leigh Griffiths.

 

The manager fielded the same back four that defeated Kilmarnock in the League Cup 5-0 last week, and they were rarely challenged by a Killie side that had little possession and failed to present an attacking challenge for Celtic.

 

The Hoops produced some impressive play in attack, particularly from the lively Calvin Miller, who caused trouble for Stephen O’Donnell all afternoon. The 19-year-old made some darting runs down the left and delivered numerous dangerous crosses into the box.

 

And he came close to scoring himself in the second half after a neat one-two with Forrest inside the box allowed him to get a shot away However, his effort was saved by Jamie MacDonald.

 

Miller’s inclusion meant Kieran Tierney moved into centre-back to rekindle his defence partnership with KristofferAjer. The pair were solid in defence and looked vastly more experienced than their years would suggest.

 

James Forrest had his first shot of the game five minutes in when he cut inside on the edge of the box and tried to curl his effort into the bottom left corner, however his attempt went wide off the far post.

 

Rogic’s creativity began to seriously trouble Kilmarnock towards the later end of the first half. In the 29th minute the Australian fired a long ball to Miller out on the right who then laid off Armstrong, whose attempted cut-back from the by-line was blocked for a corner.

 

In the 37th minute Miller delivered a great ball into the back post which Anthony Ralston controlled well before knocking it back across goal, but the opportunity was cleared away by the Kilmarnock defence.
Then, six minutes before half-time, Yogic produced one of his trademark moments of magic to help open the scoring.

The midfielder ran at the Kilmarnock defence inside the left-hand side of the box, beating Greg Taylor and taking the ball to the by-line before cutting it back across goal for Forrest to arrive and drive a low shot past a helpless MacDonald.

 

Celtic came close to doubling the lead three minutes later when Benyu’s pass to Miller on the left saw the 19 year-old fire a dangerous pass across the six-yard box, but no-one was there to convert.
The momentum from the first-half continued into the second when Ralston’s pass in the 47th minute found Forrest inside the box.

After dancing past the Kilmarnock defence, Forrest found enough room to get a rocket of a shot off, but it went narrowly wide of the top right corner.
Midway through the second-half Kieran Tierney found himself in a similar position to the one where he scored a spectacular goal against Kilmarnock in the League Cup.

The 20-year-old pushed up from central defence and let off a powerful shot from distance which, thankfully for MacDonald, was directed straight at him.One minute later Miller linked up well with Forrest inside the box with a quick one-two, allowing him to get a shot in, but pressure from the Kilmarnock defence allowed MacDonald to get down to the shot and prevent another goal.

 

But another goal seemed inevitable, given pressure which Celtic continued to pile on and Rogic helped put the game beyond any doubt with just three minutes left.
He picked up the ball 40 yards from goal and began dribbling towards goal before slipping a perfectly weighted through ball to McGregor inside the box who then calmly placed it past the keeper and into the bottom left.

 

CELTIC (4-2-3-1) Gordon; Ralston, Ajer, Tierney (Bitton 69), Miller; Brown, Armstrong; McGregor, Rogic, Benyu (Lustig 78); Forrest (Griffiths 69).
Not Used: De Vries, Bitton, Lustig, Henderson

 

KILMARNOCK (5-5-1) MacDonald; Taylor, Smith (Brophy 59), O’Donnell, McKenzie, Thomas (Burke 74), Jones, Boyd, Greer, Wilson; Frizzell.
Subs: Bell, Waters, Power, Boyd, Burke, Spencer, Brophy


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

CELTIC…5
(Postnikov o.g. 32, Sinclair 42, 60, Forrest 79, Griffiths 88)
FC ASTANA…0

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.


Scottish Premiership
Firhill,

Glasgow
Friday, August 11, 2017

CELTIC…1
(Ntcham 25)
PARTICK THISTLE…0

NEW Bhoy Olivier Ntcham ensured Celtic’s dominant display at Firhill resulted in three points after the Frenchman’s first-half volley sunk Partick Thistle.The midfielder showed terrific technique to lash home a ferocious strike in the 25th minute following a Hoops corner to open his account for the club.

And although the Scottish treble-winners never added to their tally, they never looked in danger of losing their grip on the spoils as they extended their unbeaten domestic run to 51 matches.

James Forrest led the attack for Celtic as the Invincibles looked to continue their impressive start to the season – one of eight changes to the team that swept Kilmarnock aside in the League Cup second round on Tuesday night.

Celtic walked away with a 5-0 victory at Firhill in May last season and Brendan Rodgers’ side came into the game high in confidence, having put four goals past Hearts last weekend before going on to dominate the Rugby Park side earlier in the week.

The Hoops piled on the pressure from the off, with Kieran Tierney looking hungry out on the left. Just minutes into the game the 20-year-old knocked the ball past Steven Lawless and fired a low cross into the box. Moments later, Tierney again found his way past Lawless out on the left and won a corner for the Hoops after his cross into the box was cleared.

It would be a recurring theme for Thistle with Tierney’s pace and strength troubling them all night.The first clear cut chance came inside 10 minutes after Scott Sinclair picked up the ball outside the box and ran at the Thistle defence before laying off to Forrest, whose driving shot forced a save from Cerny.

One minute later, and Partick Thistle’s Adam Barton slipped 40 yards out, allowing Ntcham to pounce on the loose ball and find Forrest just outside the box. His low drive from just inside the left-hand side of the box came close to opening the scoring but it rocketed past the wrong side of the far post and went out for a goal kick.

The only time the Celtic defence was called into action was 20 minutes in, but Jozo Simunovic made a sliding tackle on the edge of the box to comfortably dispossess Ryan Edwards.Celtic quickly resumed the offensive as they won a free kick midway through half after McGregor was brought down just outside the box. It was taken by Bitton whose shot forced a save from the keeper.

The Hoops broke the deadlock on 25 minutes, after Celtic’s corner was cleared only as far as Ntcham, whose volley from the edge of the box thundered into the centre of the goal under the keeper.

Celtic continued to dominate proceedings for the remainder of the first half and more chances came. Midway through the first half Mikael Lustig picked out Scott Brown in the box but the captain’s looping header landed on top of the net.

Jonny Hayes then came close after the Irishman collected the ball on the edge of the box before spinning round and firing off a shot which was saved.Early in the second half, Tierney came close to his second goal in two games afterhe disposed Lawless just inside the Thistle half and tore downthe wing, but his powerful attempt went inches past the far post.

Griffiths came on for Hayes 16 minutes into the second half and wasted no time in posing a goal-scoring threat. After timing his run well, Griffiths received the ball from Rogic and drove down the right, coming close to picking out Rogic, but the Thistle defence cleared the cross for a corner.

Simunovic almost doubled Celtic’s lead from a Griffiths corner 20 minutes before the end, but the defender’s header was cleared off the line. Shortly after, the defender galloped forwardand fired off a shot from outside the box which was deflected out for a corner.

Rogic hit the side netting from a tight angle with 10 minutes left and right at the death, Griffiths’ placed shot from inside the box was blocked by Niall Keown and went behind for a corner as the Bhoys saw out the closing moments to claim the win, with attention now turning to next week’s UEFA Champions League play-off against FC Astana.

CELTIC (4-2-3-1) Gordon; Lustig, Bitton, Simunovic, Tierney; Brown, Ntcham (Armstrong 78); Hayes (Griffiths 61), McGregor (Rogic 61), Sinclair; Forrest
Not Used: De Vries, Ajer, Ralston, Benyu,

PARTICK THISTLE (4-5-1) Cerny; Elliot, Turnbull, Keown, Booth; Lawless (Erskine 64), Bannigan (McCarthy 82), Barton, Edwards, Sammon; Doolan (Storey 55)
Not Used: Scully, Nitriansky, Nisbet, Penrice, McCarthy



League Cup second round
Celtic Park, Glasgow
Tuesday, August 8, 2017

CELTIC…5
(Griffiths 14 pen., 29, Ralston 21, Tierney 66, Armstrong 71)
KILMARNOCK…0

LEIGH Griffiths made it back-to-back doubles as Celtic ran riot against Kilmarnock in Paradise to book their place in the League Cup quarter-finals.

The striker struck a double in Saturday’s 4-1 win over Hearts and his predatory instincts were on show again as he struck either side of Anthony Ralston’s first goal for the club, first from the penalty spot and then with a typically composed finish to put the Hoops in complete command at the interval.

Kieran Tierney had donned the captain’s armband in the suspended Scott Brown’s absence to become one of the youngest-ever players to skipper the club. And he capped off a memorable night in his career with a truly magnificent goal midway through the second half, the 20-year-old thundering a drive into the top corner from fully 40 yards.

Stuart Armstrong rounded off the scoring from the impressive Ralston’s delivery as Brendan Rodgers’ side made the perfect start to their League Cup defence.

Kundai Benyu made his first competitive start for Celtic as the manager made a number of changes from the team that swept aside Hearts in the opening league match of the season. The 19-year-old, who had featured twice from the bench for the Bhoys since joining from Ipswich Town in the summer, started on the left of an attacking trident, operating behind lone striker Griffiths.

Fellow teenagers Ralston, Kristoffer Ajer and Eboue Kouassi also came into the side, along with Armstrong, Tom Rogic and Jonny Hayes.  Despite all the alterations, the Hoops were swiftly into their stride, with Rogic and Hayes linking up well on the right and forcing a corner.

Griffiths took the resultant set-piece and the onrushing Ajer was on course to connect with the cross until Lee Erwin’s interception.In the 13th minute, Celtic’s early pressure was rewarded with the opening goal. Fantastic foraging work from Hayes saw him rob Jordan Jones of possession and drive into the box.

Attempting to atone for his error, the Kilmarnock winger felled Hayes and referee Alan Muir, after a few seconds deliberation, pointed to the spot.

Up stepped Griffiths and he made no mistake, confidently tucking the ball into the corner.Maintaining their high intensity, Brendan Rodgers’ side continued to pour forward, and some nice interplay between Miller and Armstrong down the left saw the former pick out Griffiths, whose shot was blocked by Kirk Broadfoot.

Griffiths then turned provider, whipping in a dangerous low delivery that Rogic was inches away from reaching in the middle.
Number two soon arrived, however.

Griffiths sent over a corner from the left and Ralston showed great desire to bullet home a header, an unforgettable moment for the boyhood Hoops fan and Celtic Youth Academy graduate.

Still, the one-way traffic continued, with the Rugby Park side barely venturing out of their own half as Celtic’s high-tempo and furious pressing kept them firmly on the back-foot.

After another sweeping passing move, Rogic played in Griffiths, who stung Jamie McDonald’s hands with a rasping drive. But the ever-dangerous Griffiths soon had the ball in the net as the rampant Celts made it 3-0. Tierney’s lofted pass found Griffiths, who had evaded the offside trap, in space and he raced in on goal before calmly slotting the ball past MacDonald.

The hosts should have inflicted further punishment 10 minutes before the break when Griffiths seized upon an errant pass and darted into the box but, with Hayes in space in the middle, the hit-man tried to surprise MacDonald at his near post and the former Hearts keeper was equal to it.

The only blot on the Bhoys’ copybook in a dominant first-half display was a serious-looking injury to Kouassi, which saw the midfielder stretchered down the tunnel six minutes prior to the interval. He was replaced by Olivier Ntcham.

There looked no way back for Lee McCulloch’s side but Celtic were not content to see out the contest as they went in search for more goals after the restart.

Following nimble footwork from Miller, MacDonald came to the visitors’ rescue with a wonderful low save from Armstrong’s curling effort. Armstrong looked keen to get on the act and he saw another shot charged down after a slick pass from Benyu.

Then it was time for Tierney to take centre-stage and score an early contender for goal of the season. From fully 40 yards, the 20-year-old unleashed a thunderbolt into the top corner. Celtic Park erupted to acclaim a truly sensational strike.

Brendan Rodgers’ side were far from finished, however, as Armstrong was rewarded for his persistence with number five. Ralston was the architect, overlapping down the right and supplying the midfielder at the far post and his cushioned volley found the net.

Only some heroic goalkeeping from MacDonald and last-ditch defending denied Celtic adding to their tally as they maintained their supremacy until the final whistle.

CELTIC (4-2-3-1) Gordon; Ralston, Ajer, Tierney, Miller; Kouassi (Ntcham 39),Armstrong; Hayes, Rogic, Benyu (McGregor 70); Griffiths (Forrest 63)
Not Used: De Vries, Bitton, Sinclair, Lustig

KILMARNOCK (4-5-1) MacDonald; Wilson (O’Donnell 58), Greer, Broadfoot, Taylor; Burke, McKenzie, Power, Frizzell, Jones (Graham 46); Erwin
Not Used:  Bell, Boyd, Thomas, Waters, Samizadeh



Scottish Premiership
Celtic Park, Glasgow
Saturday, August 5, 2017

CELTIC…4
(Griffiths 29, 63, Sinclair 51, McGregor 73)
HEARTS…1
(Goncalves 84)

LEIGH Griffiths’ brilliant brace helped an impressive Celtic put Hearts to the sword in Paradise to get their quest for seven-in-a-row off to a perfect start with a 4-1 victory.

The striker’s cool finish had the Hoops in charge at the break after they had dominated the first half, and it was from his corner that Scott Sinclair doubled the advantage early in the second period.

Griffiths headed in number three, before he was withdrawn to standing ovation, and Callum McGregor’s ferocious strike sealed the spoils.Substitute Isma Goncalves grabbed a late consolation for the visitors, but it couldn’t take the shine off a sparkling opening-day showing from Brendan Rodgers’ side, who are now unbeaten in 49 domestic matches.

Griffiths led the line for the Hoops in one of three changes to the team that overcame Rosenborg 1-0 on Wednesday night to book the Bhoys’ spot in the UEFA Champions League play-offs.

Olivier Ntcham and Nir Bitton also came into the side, with the Israeli internationalist continuing in central defence after his impressive performance in the role in Norway as a first-half substitute.

The injured Erik Sviatchenko dropped out of the starting XI, along with Stuart Armstrong and Jonny Hayes, who were both named among the substitutes.
Before the game, in recognition of his 10 years of sterling service to the club, captain Scott Brown unfurled the league flag to huge cheers as Paradise celebrated six-in-a-row.

After the fanfare, the Hoops soon got down to business, making a brisk start to match, and creating two decent openings inside the opening four minutes.
McGregor’s precise pass released James Forrest in the box and his cutback narrowly evaded the onrushing Sinclair.

Moments later, Griffiths’ corner picked out the unmarked Bitton at the far post but he could only find the side-netting with his header.Jon Daly had taken interim charge of the visitors, following the departure of Ian Cathro earlier in the week, and their intentions were clear from kick-off as they deployed nine outfield players behind the ball, leaving Kyle Lafferty to plough a lone furrow up front.

Aside from a weak shot from Arnaud Djoum that was easily smothered by Craig Gordon, the Tynecastle team offered little going forward and were preoccupied with defensive duties as Celtic probed for openings.

Midway through the half, persistent play from Griffiths saw him evade the attentions of two defenders before stinging the palms of goalkeeper Jack Hamilton from an acute angle. McGregor reached the rebound but Christophe Berra’s last-ditch tackle denied the midfielder.

Some typical tenacity from Brown created the Hoops’ next opportunity. The captain stole possession inside the Hearts half and supplied Sinclair, whose perfectly-weighted pass released Griffiths in the box, but the hit-man failed to hit the target.

Eventually, just before the half-hour mark, the away side’s resistance was broken. Bitton sliced open the Hearts backline with a raking pass through the middle. Griffiths had timed his run to perfection and, although Hamilton managed to get his hands to the ball, the striker had the composure to apply the finish from the loose ball.

Hungry for further reward, the Hoops came close to doubling their advantage through Gordon’s quick-thinking. Spotting Griffiths early run, the keeper quickly launched the ball forward. The Scotland internationalist was on to it in a flash, but Christophe Berra managed to scramble back to block his shot on the line.

It was one-way traffic, and Forrest was thwarted by Hamilton from an acute angle after Hearts were unable to clear a Celtic corner, and Bitton also looked to have a strong penalty shout waved away when he was pulled back by Grzelak.

On the stroke of half-time, a tremendous interchange of passing, with Griffiths, Brown and McGregor to the fore, ripped apart the increasingly beleaguered Hearts backline. McGregor, however, couldn’t deliver the finish to what would have been an early contender for goal of the season.

The pattern continued after the restart, with Brendan Rodgers’ side bossing possession and maintaining their offensive. Goal number two soon arrived. After Hamilton had saved from McGregor’s drive from distance, Griffiths swung in the resultant corner and, when Berra misjudged the cross, Sinclair bundled the ball home at the far post

McGregor, growing in prominence, tried his luck twice from long-range, and he was heavily involved in the move that saw Celtic add to their tally. Brown threaded a pass through to the midfielder in the box and he darted to the byline, before picking out Griffiths in the middle, who couldn’t miss from close-range.

The champions were now in full flow and another sublime piece of play saw them inflict further punishment on the capital club. Receiving possession with his back to goal, Sinclair spun and left his man for dead. He found McGregor, who lashed an unstoppable half-volley into the roof of the net.

Goncalves’ late goal was no more than mere consolation as the Celts cruised through the closing stages to claim their first three points of the season.

CELTIC (4-2-3-1) Gordon; Lustig, Bitton, Simunovic, Tierney; Brown, Ntcham (Armstrong 87); Forrest, McGregor (Rogic 75), Sinclair; Griffiths (Hayes 67)
Not Used: De Vries, Ajer, Ralston, Kouassi

HEARTS (4-5-1) Hamilton; Smith, Hughes, Berra, Grzelak (Gonvalves 69); Brandon, Cowie, Bauben (Randall 62), Djoum, Moore; Lafferty (Sammon 71)
Not Used: Noring, Souttar, Nowak, Martin⋅I’m



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

ROSENBORG…0
CELTIC…1
(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; ForrestmNot 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…0
ROSENBORG…0

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, Lunde


DD6u748UMAApXkW


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

CELTIC…4
(Sinclair 4, 54 Rogic 47, Armstrong 90+2)
LINFIELD…0
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

 


img_2690


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

LINFIELD … 0
CELTIC … 2
(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

 

SEASON 2017-2018


 

Scottish Premiership 
Celtic Park, Glasgow
Saturday, May 6, 2017

CELTIC…4
(Roberts 47, 62 Boyata 52, McGregor 72)
ST JOHNSTONE…1
(MacLean 49)

PATRICK Roberts’ deadly double helped Celtic cruise to a convincing 4-1 victory over St Johnstone and stretch their unbeaten domestic run this season to 43 games.

After the champions had dominated the opening 45 minutes, they broke the deadlock early in the second half through Roberts’ accurate finish.

Although Steven MacLean quickly equalised, Dedryck Boyata thumped in a header from Leigh Griffiths’ corner to put the Bhoys back in charge.

Roberts bundled home from close range after good supply work from Scott Sinclair to make it 3-1 and Callum McGregor sealed the spoils with a stunning individual effort to continue his fantastic run of form.

After another sparkling showing, the Hoops are now only one victory away from reaching a century of points, with three league games remaining, before they tackle the Scottish Cup final against Aberdeen on May 27, where they will attempt to complete a domestic clean sweep.

Teenagers Mikey Johnston and Anthony Ralston both started for the Bhoys as Brendan Rodgers made four changes to the team which trounced Rangers 5-1 last week at Ibrox.

It was Johnston’s competitive debut for the Bhoys, while Ralston came in for his first senior start, having made two substitute appearances for the first team.

Ralston replaced Mikael Lustig at right-back and Johnston started in place of Sinclair on the left of an attacking trident behind lone striker Griffiths. Elsewhere, Nir Bitton and Tom Rogic were restored to the team, with McGregor and the suspended Scott Brown dropping out.

Stuart Armstrong captained the side.
It only took the Hoops 40 seconds to register their first shot on target as Rogic brought out a low save from Zander Clark with a low drive from 25 yards.

The tone of the game had been set, with the home side firmly on the front foot and Tommy Wright’s team hoping to soak up the pressure and hit on the break.

But the away side were almost undone by a swift Celtic counter-attack as Rogic’s deft flick released Roberts. He picked out Griffiths down the right but several back-tracking Saints defenders prevented Rogic from reaching the striker’s delivery in the middle.

Danny Swanson curled a free-kick over at the other end after Dedryck Boyata had been penalised for a foul, but the Bhoys quickly resumed the offensive as Rogic, at the centre of all Celtic’s creative play, called Clark into action with a rasping effort after being picked out by Bitton.

Johnston certainly wasn’t looking fazed on his big day and he was next to try his luck, following some nimble footwork from Rogic, though Clark was equal to the task.

The 18-year-old then showed a delightful piece of skill to dance away from his marker only to drag his final effort wide.
Making his start at Celtic Park since December 17, Rogic looked completely revitalised after his long injury lay-off as he continued to cause the visitors’ defence consternation with his movement, skill and vision.

And the the Australian internationalist wasn’t far away after he cleverly engineered some space from Griffiths’ corner, despite the close attentions of Joe Shaughnessy.

Undeterred, Celtic maintained their assault on the Saints’ goal. Armstrong had a couple of efforts from distance, Ralston’s inviting low centre somehow evaded everyone and Kieran Tierney shot wide.

The Celts did suffer a scare just before the break when Blair Alston blasted over from close-range following Liam Craig’s knock-down. Two minutes into the second half, however, they opened the scoring.

Johnston was the architect, evading one challenge down the right and feeding Roberts, who took a touch before sweeping the ball into the far corner from 20 yards beyond Clark.

Moments later, however, the Perth outfit restored parity.  Ricky Foster swung in a cross from the right and, although Craig Gordon saved brilliantly from Graham Cummins’ header, the loose ball was eventually stabbed home by MacLean.

Stung back into action, back came the Bhoys, and they only needed three minutes to restore their lead as Boyata bulleted home a header from Griffiths’ corner.

Just before the hour-mark, Scott Sinclair was introduced for Johnston, who received a well-deserved round of applause after acquitting himself excellently on his bow.

And Sinclair was soon in the thick of the action, blasting over after a wonderful one-two with Griffiths, while Armstrong was inches wide from the edge of the area.

Number three soon arrived. Clark could only parry Griffiths’ powerful drive and when Sinclair cut the loose ball back from the byline, Roberts was on hand to apply the finish.

It was now a matter of how many Celtic would score as the game opened up, with Clark thwarting Sinclair and the winger sending the rebound wide.

And another substitute sealed the points with a sensational solo effort. McGregor had only been on the field for 60 seconds when he embarked on a mazy run from the right.

Showing terrific technique, he left a number of opponents trailing his wake and then had the composure to bury a shot past Clark.

And only some last-ditch defending prevented Brendan Rodgers’ side from adding to their tally as the clock ticked down on another excellent home performance.

CELTIC (4-2-3-1) Gordon; Ralston, Simunovic, Boyata, Tierney; Bitton, Armstrong; Roberts (Forrest 83), Rogic (McGregor 70), Johnston (Sinclair 57); Griffiths
Not Used: de Vries, Kolo, Gamboa, Henderson

ST JOHNSTONE (4-4-2 Clark; Foster, Anderson, Shaugnessy, Easton; Alston (Wotherspoon 69), Paton, Craig, Swanson (Kane 80); MacLean, Cummins (Thomson 61)
Not Used: Mannus, Scobbie, Smith, Hurst


Scottish Premiership

Ibrox Stadium, Glasgow

Saturday, April 29, 2017

RANGERS…1
(Miller 81)
CELTIC…5
(Sinclair 7 pen., Griffiths 18, McGregor 52, Boyata 66, Lustig 87)

CELTIC turned on the style to run riot against Rangers on a memorable day at Ibrox, completely outclassing their city rivals 5-1 to extend their domestic unbeaten run since the start of the season to a remarkable 42 matches.

Scott Sinclair put the six-in-a-row champions in the driving seat in the seventh minute from the penalty spot after Patrick Roberts had been felled in the box by Myles Beerman.

A thunderous strike from Leigh Griffiths soon doubled the advantage as the Hoops made all the running and Brendan Rodgers’ side could have been out of sight at the interval as they fashioned chance after chance.

It mattered little, however, as Celtic maintained their control after the restart. Callum McGregor added a third with an accurate finish and Dedyrck Boyata’s thumping header from Griffith’s free-kick sent the travelling support into ecstasy.

Kenny Miller pulled a goal back for the home side but, fittingly, the last word went to Celtic as Mikael Lustig waltzed his way through the beleaguered Rangers defence and slotted home.

Griffiths came into starting XI in place of the injured Moussa Dembele in the only change from the team that convincingly beat the Ibrox side 2-0 in the Scottish Cup semi-final last weekend.

And Celtic looked intent on continuing on from their dominant display at Hampden, starting with purpose and urgency and within two minutes they had carved open the home defence.

A slick passing move down the inside left channel saw Sinclair back-heel the ball to the onrushing McGregor, who drove into the box and saw his low shot blocked by a last-ditch block from Clint Hill, with Griffiths unmarked in the middle and screaming for the pass.

Josh Windass replied for the hosts with a curling shot flew wide, but the Hoops soon resumed their offensive and opened the scoring from the penalty spot.

As Roberts darted along the edge of the box, he was sent tumbling by Beerman.  After consulting with his officials, referee John Beaton pointed the spot and, Sinclair, as he had done at Hampden, coolly converted from 12 yards, this time sending Wes Foderingham the wrong way and sparking delirium in the Broomloan Stand.

It was proving to be an enjoyable afternoon for the travelling support as they watched the Hoops boss possession and play some scintillating football at the home of their city rivals.

In the 18th minute, Celtic doubled their advantage in stunning style. McGregor sent Griffiths scampering clear down the left and the striker took aim and lashed an unstoppable rocket into the top corner from just inside the box. Cue bedlam in the away end.

The one-way traffic continued as the Hoops threatened to run riot, cutting open their opponents at will, and only a mix of last-gasp defending missed opportunities prevented them from inflicting further punishment.

Following a wonderfully-weighted pass from Lustig, Sinclair volleyed wide but the offside flag was raised in any event.
Sinclair was presented with an even better chance moments later when Griffiths’ curling shot cannoned off the bar and dropped for him in the box but he couldn’t steer the rebound on target.

With Tierney having acres of space to roam forward down the left, Sinclair was able to drift inside and pick up some brilliant positions.And the 28-year-old could easily have had a hat-trick as he spurned another terrific chance just before the half-hour mark after being found in acres of space at the back post from Griffiths’ low centre.

Roberts was next to try his luck, shooting over from 25 yards as the champions remained in complete control of proceedings.And from Griffiths’ inviting delivery, Clint Hill was forced into a hurried headed clearance that could have easily ended up in his own net.

After McGregor’s dangerous delivery had been hacked clear, Miller belatedly fired wide at the other end for the hosts on the stroke of half-time.It had been a completely one-sided opening 45 minutes and the pattern continued as the second half got underway, with McGregor sliding in to connect with Armstrong’s ball across goal, forcing Foderingham into a smart save.

Playing with his usual sense of adventure, Tierney then picked out Griffiths in the middle but the hit-man was unable to generate enough power with his first-time effort to trouble Foderingham.

Goal number three soon arrived. The outstanding Roberts was first to a loose ball and fed McGregor, who took his time before drilling into the corner.Griffiths had the ball in the net from an acute angle only it to be ruled for offside and the Scotland internationalist also fired over from a free-kick as the onslaught continued on the Rangers goal.

Just before the midway point of the half, the Ibrox side’s resistance crumbled again. After the Bhoys had won a free-kick on the right, Griffiths swung the set-piece into the box and Boyata bulleted a header home.    Martyn Waghorn headed wide for Rangers in their best chance of the game, before Armstrong came within inches of finding the net with a terrific effort from the edge of the box.

Miller fired home a consolation for Pedro Caixinha’s side after collecting a return pass from Joe Garner but there was still time for Celtic to fashion a fifth, Lustig dancing past Danny Wilson’s challenge and slotting expertly into the corner to cap off a sensational showing from the champions and an unforgettable day for the club’s supporters.

CELTIC (4-2-3-1) Gordon; Lustig, Simunovic, Boyata, Tierney; Brown (Kouassi 90) Armstrong (Rogic 77); Roberts (Forrest72), McGregor, Sinclair; Griffiths
Not Used: De Vries, Bitton, Gamboa, Sviatchenko,

RANGERS (4-2-3-1) Foderingham; Tavernier, Hill, Wilson, Beerman; Hyndman (Garner 57), Holt, Windass; Miller, Waghorn, Dodoo (Halliday 46)
Not Used: Alnwick, McKay, Forrester, Bates, O’Halloran


oldfirmlogo.jpg-pwrt3.jpg-pwrt3.jpg-pwrt3.jpg.gallery

 

Scottish Premiership
Hampden, Glasgow
Sunday, April 23, 2016

CELTIC…2
(McGregor 11, Sinclair pen. 51)
RANGERS…0

GOALS in either half from Callum McGregor and Scott Sinclair saw a dominant Celtic dispatch Rangers 2-0 at Hampden to book their place in the Scottish Cup final.

McGregor’s composed finish from 18 yards put the Hoops into an early lead after they had made a blistering start to proceedings.And Sinclair put them in complete command when he converted from the penalty spot six minutes into the second half following James Tavernier’s foul on Leigh Griffiths in the box.

Brendan Rodgers’ side had further chances to add to their tally, with Tom Rogic striking the woodwork as the clock ticked down, but that mattered little as the green-and-white end of the National Stadium exploded in celebration at the final whistle.

It was another moment to savour in a stellar first season in charge for the Irishman, with the League Cup and a sixth successive title already secured and a domestic clean sweep now only one victory away. Aberdeen will lie in wait in the final on May 27.

Patrick Roberts came into the starting XI to make his 50th appearance for the club. His inclusion was one of three changes to the team that extended the club’s unbeaten run in domestic football this season to 40 matches away to Ross County last weekend.

Dedryck Boyata was restored to the heart of the rearguard and Mikael Lustig came in at right-back as the Bhoys reverted to a back-four for the clash. Erik Sviatchenko, James Forrest and Rogic all dropped to the bench.

Celtic started with real purpose and drive, immediately taking the game to the Ibrox side and winning an early corner that Moussa Dembele headed wide. Moments later, a reckless lunge from Andy Halliday on Roberts saw the Rangers midfielder enter the book. He was lucky to avoid a red. It couldn’t halt the Hoops’ momentum, however.

Stuart Armstrong was next to threaten as the one-way traffic continued, the midfielder curling a shot inches wide from 20 yards.In the 11th minute, the Bhoys made the breakthrough. Lustig launched a raking ball over the top for Dembele, who held the ball up, before teeing up McGregor, who coolly stroked the ball into the far corner beyond the statuesque Wes Foderingham.

It was wholly deserved lead and Brendan Rodgers’ side kept up the pressure, with Armstrong, Scott Brown and McGregor dictating proceedings from midfield as Celtic completely bossed possession. Dembele, who had caused the Rangers rearguard consternation with his pace and power, headed over from Scott Sinclair’s set-piece but his game to a premature end just before the half-hour mark.

Earning a corner with a clever back-heel, the striker went down holding his hamstring and was unable to continue, with Griffiths eventually taking his place after a period of five minutes.

Once Brendan Rodgers’ side regrouped, they continued their dominance, and Roberts had a free-kick saved by Foderingham at his near post after he had been felled by Myles Beerman, who was perhaps fortunate not collect a second yellow card.

It until four minutes before the interval for the Ibrox side to fashion their first shot on goal when Miller blazed a half-volley over from distance. To try and stem the Celtic tide, Rangers manager Pedro Caixinha made a double switch at half-time, introducing Barrie McKay and Joe Dodoo, but the same pattern continued.

Within six minutes of the restart, the Hoops had doubled their advantage. Racing onto a through ball, Griffiths was sent tumbling in the box by James Tavernier as he bore down on goal.

Referee Willie Collum had no option other than to award the penalty, and Sinclair made no mistake from the spot, his shot finding the net despite the best efforts of Foderingham who got a hand to the ball.A flurry of chances then followed for the champions, who were now cutting open Rangers at will, much to the delight of a buoyant Celtic support.

Foderingham made a magnificent save to push over Griffiths’ volley after a terrific piece of control from the striker, and Boyata headed narrowly over from Jozo Simunovic’s knockdown.

Foderingham then came to his team’s rescue, producing smart saves from the impressive Roberts and Griffiths. Rangers briefly rallied in the closing stages, with Miller having a header saved by Gordon and looping a shot over. Martyn Waghorn also spurned a couple of opportunities as Caixinha’s team mounted some desperate late attacks.

But the last word almost fell to the champions as substitute Tom Rogic cannoned a thumping drive struck the the post from 20 yards as Celtic finished as they had started, the final whistle prompting wild celebrations on the pitch and in the stands.

CELTIC (4-2-3-1) Gordon; Lustig, Simunovic, Boyata, Tierney; Armstrong, Brown; Roberts (Forrest 82), McGregor (Rogic 75), Sinclair; Dembele (Griffiths 34)
Not Used: Bailly, Gamboa, Sviatchenko, Kouassi

RANGERS (4-2-3-1) Foderingham; Tavernier, Bates, Wilson, Beerman; Hyndman (Windass 79), Holt, Halliday (McKay 46), Miller; Garner (Dodoo 46); Waghorn
Not Used: Alnwick, Hill, Toral, Hodson



Scottish Premiership
Global Energy Stadium, Dingwall
Sunday, April 16, 2017
ROSS COUNTY…2
(Garydne 50, Boyce pen. 90)
CELTIC…2
(Tierney 34, Roberts 78)

CELTIC extended their unbeaten run in domestic football this season to 40 matches but the champions were denied a deserved victory away to Ross County at the death by a controversial refereeing decision.

Kieran Tierney’s long-range strike had the Hoops in front at the interval after they had completely dominated the first half.
The Highlanders restored parity through Michael Gardyne early in the second half but the Hoops looked to be cruising to another three points when substitute Patrick Roberts restored their advantage with a sublime solo effort.

But in the dying seconds, referee Don Robertson somehow awarded a penalty to the home side after Alex Schalk had gone down in the box without being touched. Liam Boyce converted from the spot and the visitors’ understandable frustration boiled over as Scott Brown saw red in stoppage time for a late tackle on Boyce.

Tom Rogic took another significant step forward following his long injury lay-off, starting his first game since mid-December in one of three changes made by Brendan Rodgers to the team that beat Kilmarnock last weekend.

Now fully fit after his spell on the treatment table, Moussa Dembele came in to spearhead the attack, while Erik Sviatchenko was restored the backline. Dedryck Boyata, Mikael Lustig and Patrick Roberts dropped out.
Backed by their vocal travelling support, Celtic quickly assumed control of proceedings, bossing possession and pinning the hosts back.

Although they fashioned a number of promising positions, it took until the 17th minute for the champions to force Scott Fox into action as Tierney’s low effort from distance was saved by the former Celtic youth player at his near post.

Moments later, Callum McGregor drove to the byline and attempted to pick out Dembele in the middle. In the melee that followed Rogic knocked the ball back across goal and James Forrest’s effort was charged down by Kenny Van Der Weg.

County captain Andrews Davies was next to come to the rescue of his side, making a last-ditch block to prevent Forrest’s low cross reaching the unmarked Dembele.

Although it was one-way traffic, the home side, encamped around their own box, were working hard to deny Celtic space, and it took a moment of individual inspiration from Tierney to break the deadlock. There looked little danger when the 19-year-old received a pass 30 yards from goal but he took a touch before sending a blistering strike into the far corner.

It had no effect on the flow of the game as the Hoops continued to stroke the ball around and probe for openings. Tim Chow did manage to register an effort on target for the Staggies after a loose ball dropped to him in the box.

His weak volley was easily gathered by Gordon, however For all their dominance, it was a reminder to Celtic of the slenderness of their lead – and within five minutes of the restart, the match was level. Ryan Dow engineered some space down the left and his inviting cross was met by Gardyne, whose looping header found the net via the underside of the bar.

Playing with renewed belief and purpose, the Staggies threatened to complete a swift turnaround, with Davies having a header saved by Gordon and Liam Boyce missing his kick when well-positioned.

Seeking to regain the ascendency, Brendan Rodgers introduced all three of his substitutes within the space of six minutes, as Leigh Griffiths, Cristian Gamboa and Roberts replaced Rogic, Dembele and Forrest. It had the desired effect.

Griffiths – making his first appearance since a back injury sustained on international duty last month for Scotland – tested Fox with ferocious, dipping shot which the keeper could only gather at the second attempt.

A moment of magic from Roberts then put the Bhoys back in front. Darting in from the right, the winger nutmegged Van Der Weg and rolled the ball under Fox and into the far corner.

Celtic were back in complete command, and Stuart Armstrong came within inches of sealing the win when his free-kick crashed off the bar.But there would be a further controversial twist in the tale. As the clock ticked down, substitute Schalk went down without being touched in the slightest by Sviatchenko. Inexplicably, referee Robertson pointed to the spot and Boyce found the net from 12 yards.

As the Hoops piled forward in search of a late winner, Brown got his marching orders for a late challenge on Boyce, sparking a melee on the pitch.
CELTIC (3-4-2-1) Gordon; Simunovic, Sviatchenko, Tierney; Forrest (Roberts 69), Brown, Armstrong, McGregor; Rogic (Gamboa 63), Sinclair; Dembele (Griffiths 63)
Not Used: Bailly, Toure, Izaguirre, Kouassi

ROSS COUNTY (5-4-1) Fox; Tumilty (Schalk 83) Naismith, Davies, Fraser, Van Der Weg; Gardyne (Franks 90), O’Brien (Routis 85), Chow, Dow; Boyce
Not Used: McCarey, Curran, Dykes, Lalkovic



SPFL Premiership
Celtic Park, Glasgow
Saturday, April 8, 2017

CELTIC…..3
(Armstrong 22, Sinclair 71, Forrest 75)
KILMARNOCK….1
(Jones 64)

CHAMPIONS Celtic brushed aside Kilmarnock to go 39 games unbeaten with a comfortable 3-1 victory in Paradise today (Saturday). Goals from Stuart Armstrong, Scott Sinclair and James Forrest ensured Brendan Rodgers’ side continue their incredible domestic run this season as six-in-a-row champions.

Armstrong with his 14th goal of the season opened the scoring for the Hoops after 22 minutes, and though Kilmarnock stunned the home support with an equaliser from Jordan Jones just after the hour mark, strikes from Scott Sinclair and James Forrest in quick succession reinforced Celtic’s dominance and ensured that all three points remained at Paradise.

Captain Scott Brown was one of five Celtic players restored to the starting line-up for the game, the midfielder returning to the team along with Dedryck Boyata, James Forrest, Stuart Armstrong and Kieran Tierney following Wednesday’s derby draw with Partick Thistle.

From the first whistle it was clear that Kilmarnock’s game-plan was to put everyone behind the ball except for Conor Sammon in a bid to frustrate Celtic’s attacking intent, but the champions showed both patience and determination in maintaining possession and probing for openings.

Sinclair came agonisingly close to opening the scoring for Celtic after 12 minutes, picking up a lovely pass from Forrest and shooting low and hard across the face of goal, but the ball flashed just past Woodman’s far post.

Armstrong then set up McGregor five minutes later who unleashed a shot from 25 yards, but the Killie keeper produced a good save to deny the Celtic midfielder.
But there was nothing he could do to prevent Armstrong giving the home side the lead as he fired in a powerful shot from outside the area which took a deflection on its way into the Kilmarnock net.

There was a great atmosphere inside the sun-kissed Celtic Park as the Hoops fans celebrated the goal, as well as the title success and Friday’s news that Brendan Rodgers had signed a new four-year deal to keep him at the club until June 2021.

And as the Irishman’s side went in search of a second goal, Kieran Tierney came close with a half-volley after 36 minutes from inside the box. And the last action of the half saw an Armstrong shot blocked by Killie defender Scott Boyd.

The pattern of the game continued in the same vein into the second-half, with Roberts and Sinclair both coming close, but Kilmarnock, with a rare foray forward, grabbed an unexpected equaliser. Jones hit a shot from inside the box which ricocheted its way past Gordon to make it 1-1 after 64 minutes.

However, within six minutes, the Hoops were back in front. Armstrong delivered a free-kick into the box, Boyata headed the ball across the face of goal, and Roberts nudged it into the path of Sinclair who, from a couple of yards out, fired home his 23rd goal of the season. Three minutes later Sinclair almost clinched his second goal of the game but his effort was cleared off the line.

Brendan Rodgers then introduced Tom Rogic and Moussa Dembele, and the Frenchman had an immediate impact on proceedings. His looping effort from 20 yards out beat the keeper but came back off the post, and Forrest was first to react with a header to make it 3-1 and a comfortable win for the Champions.

CELTIC (3-4-2-1) Gordon, Lustig, Simunovic, Boyata; Forrest, Brown, Armstrong (Kouassi, 84), Tierney; McGregor (Rogic, 72), Sinclair; Roberts (Dembele, 72).
Unused subs: Hazard, Izaguirre, Bitton, Sviatchenko,

KILMARNOCK (5-4-1) Woodman; Hendrie, Wilson, Dicker, S. Boyd, Taylor; Roberts, M. Smith, Longstaff, Jones; Sammon Subs: MacDonald, Osborne, K. Boyd, Frizzell, Hawkshaw, Graham, Cameron



Scottish Premiership

Tynecastle, Edinburgh
Sunday, April 2, 2017

HEARTS…0
CELTIC…5
(Sinclair 24, 27, 85 pen. Armstrong 55, Roberts 62)

SCOTT Sinclair hammered in a hat-trick as Celtic ruthlessly swept aside Hearts 5-0 at Tynecastle to seal a sixth successive championship in style and, remarkably, without defeat.

Sinclair’s quick-fire double had the Hoops in charge at the break, despite the best efforts of the home side.Fabulous finishes from Stuart Armstrong and Patrick Roberts in the second half ensured Brendan Rodgers’ side would harvest the three points they needed to cross the finishing line.

And there was still time for Sinclair to claim his hat-trick and notch up his 21st goal of the season from the penalty spot after he was felled in the box by Krytian Nowak.

It crowned off yet another dominant display from champions, and it was a fitting way to clinch the prize in a league campaign in which they have achieved astonishing levels of consistency and produced some scintillating attacking football.

The Bhoys’ victory over Hearts stretched their domestic unbeaten run since the start of the season to 37 matches, eclipsing a 100-year-old club record.And they clinched the championship with eight games to spare, having won 28 times and drawn twice – an extraordinary record.

Injuries to Moussa Dembele and Leigh Griffiths saw Roberts spearhead the Hoops attack in the only change from the team that saw off Dundee last weekend, with Dembele dropping out.

Celtic made a brisk start in the spring sunshine and Callum McGregor had the ball in the net inside the opening two minutes after a slick interchange of passes but the offside flag cut short the celebrations.

Jamie Walker, who had collected an early booking for a late challenge on James Forrest, replied for the hosts with an opportunist volley from distance that flew wide.Craig Gordon was then called into action by Esmael Goncalves after the striker had driven in from the left and unleashed a powerful shot from 18 yards.
The home side were playing with plenty of vigour and Gordon came to Celtic’s rescue again in the 16th minute, blocking Goncalves’ angled drive.

Straight up the other end, Celtic broke at pace and McGregor spurned a good chance to open the scoring when Sinclair’s delicate delivery picked him out in space at the far post, the midfielder steering his shot wide.

It was pulsating, frenetic end-to-end stuff, but it was the Bhoys who made the breakthrough in the 24th minute. Sinclair raced onto Roberts’ return pass in the box, before lashing a ferocious shot into the roof of the net.

The travelling support celebrated the goal with gusto and they had reason to cheer again three minutes later as Sinclair bagged his brace and doubled the advantage.

Roberts again was the provider. Receiving the ball near the halfway line, he neatly turned away from his marker and then played Sinclair in with a sublime pass. The winger’s pace took him clear of the Hearts defence and he gave goalkeeper Jack Hamilton no chance with a clinical finish.

As Ian Cathro’s side battled for a way back into the match and the Hoops determinedly sought to preserve their two-goal cushion, increasingly, the match became bogged down in midfield and punctuated by fouls, with the card count mounting up for both teams.

It took until the start of the second half before either team started rediscovered attacking cutting edge. First Bjorn Johnsen fired over from the edge of the box and then the champions had another goal disallowed for offside after Forrest’s shot was deflected into his own net by Tasos Avlonitis.

Celtic, however, didn’t have long to wait until goal number three. McGregor dummied Tierney’s pass for Armstrong and the midfielder accurate finish flew into far corner.

Just beyond the hour-mark, the party got underway in earnest in the away end as Roberts scored an absolute stunner. Fastening onto McGregor’s pass, he cut back onto his left foot and curled an exquisite shot into the top corner.

Brendan Rodgers’ side were now in complete command, and with six minutes left on the clock, Sinclair was brought down by Nowak in the box, allowing him to complete his treble from the penalty spot and cap off a sparkling showing in the capital. It was Celtic’s 9000th league goal – another memorable moment on a memorable day.

And the final whistle was the cue for jubilant celebrations as the manager and his players took the acclaim of the jubilant travelling support.

CELTIC (3-4-3) Gordon; Lusti (Gamboa 79), Simunovic, Boyata (Toure 87); Forrest, Brown, Armstrong, Tierney; McGregor, Roberts (Mackay-Steven 79), Sinclair
Not Used: Bailly, Bitton, Aitchison, Kouassi

HEARTS (4-4-2) Hamilton; Struna, Avlonitis, Nowak, Sowah; Cowie, Kitchen, Tziolis (Bauben 65) Walker (Martin 65); Johnsen, Goncalves (Beith 71)
Not Used: Noring, Nicholson, Smith, Currie


Premiership
 Sunday, March 19, 2017
DUNDEE…1
(El Bakhtaoui 75)
CELTIC…2
(Simunovic 45, Armstrong 51)

Celtic are on the verge of a sixth successive league title following a 2-1 win against Dundee at Dens Park this afternoon. Jozo Simunovic put the Hoops ahead just before half-time with his first goal of the season while Stuart Armstrong doubled Celtic’s lead six minutes after half-time.

Dundee substitute Faissal El Bakhtaoui reduced the deficit with 15 minutes of the match remaining with a wonder strike, but Brendan Rodgers’ side showed great determination to see out the match and take all three points. It now means that victory at Tynecastle against Hearts in two week’s time will confirm Celtic as champions again.

It’s now 36 domestic games unbeaten for the Hoops who had two changes to the side that drew 1-1 with Rangers last weekend. Jozo Simunovic came into Celtic’s starting XI in place of Erik Sviatchenko whilst Nir Bitton dropped the bench to make way for Callum McGregor who made his 100th appearance for the Hoops.

And it was the league leaders who got the game underway in the Dundee sunshine following a minute’s silence impeccably observed for Lisbon Lion and former Dundee player and manager Tommy Gemmell, who sadly passed away recently.

Century Bhoy McGregor and James Forrest put the home team on the back foot inside the first minute with some great play on the right side, McGregor delivered the ball into the 18-yard box but Scott Sinclair couldn’t get the ball under control.

Celtic enjoyed the majority of possession inside the opening 10 minutes of the game as they searched for a third victory over the Dens Park side this season, and Stuart Armstrong came close with a free-kick after 12 minutes following a foul on Scott Sinclair. Moussa Dembele went even closer minutes later, heading just wide from an Armstrong corner.

After comfortably controlling most of the opening 30 minutes, Sinclair was through on goal again just before the half-hour mark but Bain rushed out to smother any chance the Englishman had of adding to his goal tally.

Dundee had the chance to take the lead in the 33rd minute with a corner swung in from the right side by Tom Hateley which was turned round the back post for another corner. Hately again put the ball in from the left this time but the threat was cleared from inside the six-yard box by Mikael Lustig.

Celtic were relentless as half-time approached with a flurry of corners, and Dedryck Boyata came closest when his header was cleared off the line by Paul McGowan. But the goal came with the last kick of the first-half.

The ball found its way to Simunovic who slotted into the bottom corner of the net to send Brendan Rodgers’ men into the half-time break 1-0 up.

It was Dundee with the first chance of the second half when Simunovic fouled Kevin Gomis just outside the box on 46 minutes. The free-kick was taken low and hard by Holt but was straight into the arms of Celtic keeper Craig Gordon.

And in the 51st minute Armstrong doubled Celtic’s lead to 2-0 after he headed home a superb ball into the box from Forrest on the right side. It was the perfect reward for some brilliant build-up play which saw the move started by Craig Gordon before Lustig, Dembele, McGregor and Forrest all got a touch before Armstrong headed home.

Marcus Haber came close in the 60th minute for Dundee, his shot flashed wide of Gordon’s post, but the home side did manage to reduce the deficit when El Bakhtaoui, on as a substitute, skipped past Boyata and unleashed a powerful shot that Craig Gordon could do nothing about.

Dembele had a chance to make it three for the Hoops a couple of minutes later but the low drive was straight at keeper Bain and as the game entered the closing stages both teams fought hard to find another goal.

However, Brendan Rodgers’ side held firm to take all three points and move within one win of becoming champions.

CELTIC (4-3-3): Gordon, Lustig, Boyata, Simunovic, Tierney; Brown, McGregor (Kouassi, 68), Armstrong; Forrest (Roberts, 70), Sinclair (Sviatchenko, 83), Dembele.
Subs: Bailly, Sviatchenko, Griffiths, Gamboa, Roberts, Bitton, Kouassi.

DUNDEE: Bain; Holt, Vincent, O’Dea, Hateley, O’Hara, McGowan, Haber, Ojamaa, Kerr, Gomis
Subs: Mitchell, Williams, Ross, El Bakhtaoui, Klok, Gadzhalov, Wighton

img_1201-4


Scottish Premiership
Celtic Park, Glasgow
Sunday, March 12, 2017

CELTIC….1
(Armstrong 35)
RANGERS…1
(Hill 87)

CELTIC extended their unbeaten domestic run to 35 games but they had to be content with a share of the points as the fourth derby clash of the season against Rangers finished 1-1 at Celtic Park.

Stuart Armstrong gave the Hoops a first-half lead, and though they dominated most of the second-half, Brendan Rodgers’ side couldn’t extend their lead and were hit by a late sucker-punch as Clint Hill grabbed a 87th-minute equaliser for the visitors.

The Celtic manager made just one change from the side which had knocked St Mirren out of the Scottish Cup last weekend, with James Forrest replacing Gary Mackay-Steven.

And in an opening 45 minutes of few chances, though several contentious challenges by the visitors that went unpunished by referee, Bobby Madden, it was the Ibrox side who enjoyed the first clear-cut chance after 24 minutes when Martyn Waghorn raced in on goal. But he was denied by the left foot of Craig Gordon, who did well to deny the Ibrox striker.

And Gordon’s opposite number in the Rangers goal, Wes Foderingham, produced a great save to deny Stuart Armstrong, pushing his free-kick on to the post and behind for a corner.

James Forrest was hauled to the ground by Clint Hill as he raced towards the penalty area, winning a free-kick for his side, but not for the first time in the game, the Rangers defender’s foul did not get the yellow card it merited.

Kieran Tierney, a tireless operator down the left flank throughout the 90 minutes, came close with a fierce shot just after the half-hour mark, and just three minutes later Celtic took the lead.

Armstrong won possession on the edge of the Rangers box and played the ball out to Forrest, who slotted it back into his path, and from the edge of the box, the midfielder unleashed an unstoppable left-foot shot into the back of the net.

The last action of the first-half saw Celtic earn a corner, but the referee blew for half-time before the home side could take the set-piece.

Callum McGregor was a half-time substitute for Nir Bitton, and it was the Hoops who dominated much of the second 45 minutes.

Clint Hill was finally booked for a foul on Moussa Dembele on 52 minutes, and just four minutes later Armstrong came close to doubling Celtic’s lead with a low shot, but Foderingham denied the midfielder his second goal of the afternoon.

And the Rangers keeper again foiled Armstrong with another good save on 68 minutes.Brendan Rodgers’ side were continuing to dominate the game and pushing forward in search of a second goal. Leigh Griffiths came on for Armstrong, while Dembele came close with a shot which flashed across the six-yard box with five minutes of the match remaining.

Two minutes later, however, the visitors grabbed an equaliser they barely deserved. Emerson Hyndman’s shot was saved by Craig Gordon, but Hill was first to pounce and fired the ball into the net.

There was still time for Celtic to get the winner and they were denied a stonewall penalty when Hill clearly fouled Griffiths inside the box, but referee Madden waved the penalty claims away.The Hoops will now look to continue their unbeaten domestic run when they travel to Dens Park to take on Dundee next weekend.

CELTIC (4-3-3) Gordon, Lustig, Boyata, Sviatchenko, Tierney; Brown, Bitton, Armstrong; Forrest, Dembele, Sinclair.
Subs: De Vries, Simunovic, Griffiths, Gamboa, Roberts, McGregor, Kouassi

RANGERS (4-4-1-1) Foderingham, Hodson, Hill, Wilson, Wallace; Tavernier, Hyndman, Holt, McKay; Miller, Waghorn.
Subs: Alnwick, O’Halloran, Dodoo, Windass, Senderos, Bates, Forrester


8fc543b0801554a6ec65201e8dd45769

William Hill Scottish Cup quarter-finals
Celtic Park, Glasgow
Sunday, March 5, 2017

CELTIC….4
(Lustig 58, Sinclair 59, Dembele 68, Griffiths 78)
ST MIRREN…1
(Davis 13)

CELTIC staged a superb second-half fightback to put a spirited St Mirren side to the sword and book their place in the Scottish Cup semi-finals.The Hoops failed to find their normal fluency in the first half and trailed to Harry Davis’ goal at the interval but they rallied after the break to turn the match aroundMikael Lustig and Scott Sinclair scored twice in the space of 60 seconds to put the Hoops ahead before the hour-mark.

And Moussa Dembele and substitute Leigh Griffiths sealed the victory in the closing stages to book their spot in the draw for the last four of the competition and extend their unbeaten domestic run this season to 34 matches.Brendan Rodgers had kept faith with the same team that dispatched Inverness Caley Thistle so impressively on Wednesday night which extended the champions’ advantage at the top of the table to 27 points.

The in-form Dembele, who had bagged a brace in the Highlands, again led the line, with Gary Mackay-Steven and Sinclair providing close support from the flanks.There was a poignant start to proceedings as Paradise remembered Celtic legend Tommy Gemmell, who sadly passed away on Thursday at the age of 73, with an impeccably observed minute’s silence.The Lisbon Lion won three Scottish Cups during his illustrious career in the Hoops and the current Celtic team showed their intent to go all the way in the competition this season as they made a brisk start to the match.

In the third minute, Mackay-Steven dispossessed Stelios Demetriou and raced into the box before the cutting the ball back for Stuart Armstrong, whose low shot was saved by Billy O’BrienThrough the pace of Sinclair, Dembele and Mackay-Steven, the Hoops were looking a real threat when they drove at the Buddies’ backline, and Mackay Steven was unable to capitalise when Armstrong played him in down the inside-right channel.

But Celtic were stunned in the 13th minute when the Championship club opened the scoring. Following a quickly-taken free-kick, Cameron Smith’s deep cross was nodded back across goal by John Sutton and Harry Davis was left unmarked in the middle to apply the simple finish.It was the first goal the Hoops had conceded in four games and they took some time to rediscover their rhythm. On the half-hour mark, they sparked into life again. Mackay-Steven broke down the right and picked out Sinclair in the box. He teed-up Scott Brown and the captain’s left-foot shot flew wide of the far post.

Celtic then looked to be denied a strong penalty claim when a high boot from Demetriou caught Mackay-Steven in the face as he attempted to reach a loose ball following a corner, referee Steven McLean unmoved by the protests. Brendan Rodgers’ side were growing in ascendency again as half-time approached and they should have been level at the break, but Dembele could only hold his hands in frustration after scuffing a shot inches past the post.

Patrick Roberts, back in the squad after a month on the treatment table, replaced Mackay-Steven at the interval as the home side started the second half with real urgency, with Dembele firing wide after a driven cross from Mikael Lustig.The Paisley side were playing with plenty of spirit, however, and they emerged from their defensive shell to create a flurry of chances at the other end.

First, Sutton had a shot deflected over after Dedryck Boyata’s clearance and fell to him in the box, and then Dembele’s attemped clearance from Mallon’s low free-kick cannoned off the underside of the bar, with Davis unable to divert the rebound home from an acute angle.Those misses proved costly as Celtic turned the game around in the space of 60 seconds. After Demetriou had fouled substitute Griffiths on the right, Roberts floated in the free-kick and Lustig rose highest to glance a header into the far corner.

When St Mirren tried to launch an attack straight from the restart, Celtic won back possession and countered. Griffiths drilled a pass out to Sinclair on the left and the wide-man burst into the box and curled an exquisite finish into the far corner.It was all Celtic now and only a last-ditch challenge from Gary Irvine denied Sinclair hitting the target again after Griffiths had picked him out again from the left.

Midway through the half, Brendan Rodgers side effectively put the result beyond doubt with a wonderfully-worked goal. Sinclair raced into the box to collect a return pass from Roberts and then supplied Dembele in the middle who made no mistake. The lively Lewis Morgan replied for Jack Ross’ side with a curling shot that flew wide but the Bhoys were now playing some stylish, free-flowing football, and after a series of first-time passes, Dembele was close to his second when he struck the outside of the post.

Goal number four arrived 12 minutes from time through a trademark strike from Griffiths. The hit-man received the ball 25 yards of goal and lashed a powerful shot beyond O’Brien.Kouassi Eboue came off the bench to make his Celtic bow, and Boyata and Griffiths both had goals disallowed in the final 10 minutes as the Hoops finished on top and kept their ambitions of a domestic clean sweep alive.

CELTIC (4-3-3) Gordon; Lustig, Boyata, Sviatchenko, Tierney; Brown, Bitton (Griffiths 54), Armstrong (Kouassi 77); Mackay-Steven (Roberts 46), Dembele, Sinclair
Not Used: De Vries, Simunovic, Gamboa, McGregor

ST MIRREN (4-4-1-1) O’Brien; Irvine, Davis, MacKenzie (Baird 75) Demetriou; Magennis (Storie 84), McGinn, Mallon, Morgan; Smith; Sutton (Loy 70)
Not Used: Langfield, Webster, Fjelde, O’Keefe


ictvceltic

Scottish Premiership
Tulloch Caledonian Stadium, Inverness
Wednesday, March 1, 2017

CELTIC…4
(Sinclair 43, Dembele 46,73, Armstrong 66)
INVERNESS CALEY THISTLE…0

MOUSSA Dembele moved past the 30-goal milestone this season after his second successive brace helped Celtic crush Inverness Caley Thistle in the Highlands and clock up their 22nd league win on the spin.A sensational strike from Scott Sinclair put the champions ahead on the stroke of half-time and Dembele seized upon a defensive error from the hosts moments into the second period to put the Bhoys in complete command.

Stuart Armstrong’s fabulous free-kick and Dembele’s cool finish – his 31st goal of the campaign – saw Brendan Rodgers’ side complete an emphatic victory, which stretched their lead at the top of the table to 27 points and extended their unbeaten domestic run to 33 matches. A sixth successive title is now within touching distance.

Mikael Lustig and Gary Mackay-Steven both started as the manager made two changes to the side which faced against Hamilton Accies last weekend. Cristian Gamboa and the injured James Forrest dropped out.Despite the long journey north and midweek evening kick off, the Celtic support packed out the away end and held up a banner before kick-off to show their support for club icon Billy McNeill after his family revealed on Sunday that he was battling dementia.

On a freezing night in the Highlands, the Hoops made the early running, with Kieran Tierney shooting over in the box after linking up with Scott Sinclair, and the on-form Dembele drawing two saves from Owan Fon Williams.The home side, buoyed by a recent upturn in form, including a 2-1 win over Rangers in their last match, were playing with renewed vigour, and Billy McKay had their first attempt on goal in the 21st minute but Craig Gordon made a comfortable save.

Dembele had looked hungry to add to his 29 goals this season in the opening stages and he showcased his power and pace midway through the half with a rampaging run through the heart of the Inverness defence that almost paid dividends.As the half-hour mark approached, the Hoops started to crank up the pressure and make real inroads into the hosts’ defence, who were now encamped on the edge of their own box.

Fon Wiliams had to make a smart stop from Gary Mackay-Steven’s crisp volley following a corner, Gary Warren blocked Scott Brown’s effort on the edge of the box and Nir Bitton tried his luck from distance. Just two minutes before the interval, Celtic broke the deadlock in impressive style. Sinclair collected a loose ball 30 yards from goal, skipped past Ross Draper and then curled into the top corner. It was a fantastic finish from the winger and his goal in four matches.

After waiting so long in the first half to open the scoring, the champions only took seconds to double their advantage following the restart as they capitalised on a defensive mishap from the Caley JagsStraight from the Inverness kick off, the ball was worked back to goalkeeper Fon Williams, who made a mess of his clearance. As the loose ball spun in the air, Dembele was first to it, coolly evading the despairing dive of Fon Williams before applying the finish.

It should have been 3-0 in the 49th minute as Sinclair fired over after brilliant work from Dembele. It was all Celtic now as the Highlanders struggled to stem the tide, and Fon Williams had to pull off an excellent reaction save to thwart Armstrong from close range.
Nir Bitton fired wide and Mikael Lustig shot over as the onslaught continued from the Bhoys. Goal number soon three soon arrived. Dembele was sent tumbling on the angle of the box and Armstrong deceived Fon Williams, who was expecting the cross, by whipping the resultant free-kick inside the near post.

Gordon was finally called into meaningful action when he tipped over from substitute Iain Vigurs’ long-range volley. Moments later, however, Brendan Rodgers’ side inflicted further punishment. Tierney picked out the run of Dembele with a raking ball over the top. The Frenchman bore down on goal and confidently chipped the ball over the advancing Fon Williams and into the far corner. And the visitors could have added to their tally as the clock ticked down, with Dembele, Sinclair and McGregor all having chances as the Hoops juggernaut rolled on.

CELTIC (4-3-3) Gordon; Lustig, Boyata, Sviatchenko, Tierney; Bitton, Brown (Henderson 78) Armstrong; Mackay-Steven (McGregor 67), Sinclair; Dembele
Not Used: De Vries, Toure, Izaguirre, Gamboa, Griffiths

INVERNESS CALEY THITLE (4-2-3-1) Fon Williams; McKay, Laing, Warren, Raven; Tansey, Draper; King, Polworth, Cole (Vigurs 65) Billy McKay (Anier 82)
Not Used: Hoban, McNaughton, Ebbe, Fisher, Boden


img_1003


Scottish Premiership
Celtic Park, Glasgow
Saturday, February 25, 2017

CELTIC…2
(Dembele 45, 60)
HAMILTON…0

MOUSSA Dembele moved on to 29 goals for the campaign after his deadly double put Hamilton Accies to the sword in Paradise to extend Celtic’s domestic unbeaten run to 32 matches.

The prolific striker fired the Hoops ahead on the stroke of half-time with a sublime solo goal that was arguably his best of the season so far.And he ensured the champions would clock up their 21st successive league victory on the hour mark when he converted from the spot after the outstanding Kieran Tierney had been fouled in the box by Massimo Donati.

Brendan Rodgers’ side now go into Wednesday night’s game away to Inverness Caley Thistle still in possession of their commanding 24-point lead at the top of the table as they close in on their sixth successive title.

Stuart Armstrong made his first Celtic start in a month after returning from a four-week injury absence in last Saturday’s 2-0 win over Motherwell. His inclusion in the starting XI was one of three changes to the team that beat the Steelmen seven days ago, with Cristian Gamboa and Erik Sviatchenko also restored to the side. Mikael Lustig, Jozo Simunovic and Liam Henderson dropped out.

Inside the first 10 minutes, Brendan Rodgers was forced to make an enforced change as James Forrest departed from the fray after after a reckless challenge from Danny Redmond near the touchline. He was replaced by Gary Mackay-Steven.

Prior to that, the Hoops had made a lively start, with Kieran Tierney lashing a dangerous ball across goal that had no takers. It was the left-back who was the most threatening outlet for the champions as he constantly bombed forward against the defensively-minded visitors, operating as an auxiliary winger.

Time and time again, his desire and work-rate saw him find promising positions near the box and he was next try his luck after Armstrong had rolled the ball into his path but his 25-yard drive flew wide.

Scott Sinclair rifled a shot over from distance as the champions continued to search for a way through the massed ranks of Hamilton players.

The Lanarkshire side had shown limited ambition but they emerged from their defensive shell in the 27th minute to launch a counter-attack which culminated in Dougie Imrie shooting wide.

Just past the half-hour mark, Celtic should have made the breakthrough. Tierney and Sinclair linked up down the left and when the former drilled the ball across the six-yard box, Armstrong had an open goal but he could only hit the bar.

When Armstrong curled wide a shot minute before the break after being teed-up Nir Bitton’s flick, it looked like Celtic would have nothing to show for their dominance at half-time.

Step forward Dembele. Collecting possession with his back to goal at the edge of the box, there looked little on but the 20-year-old jinked past Massimo Donati before finding the top corner with a sensational finish.

Dembele came close to doubling his and the Hoops’ tally early in the second period when, following tremendous industry from Armstrong, he met Tierney’s cutback at the near post but saw his first-time attempt deflected wide. He wouldn’t be denied for long, however, and Tierney was the provider.

Driving into the box from the left on yet another enterprising run, he was sent tumbling by Donati and referee Crawford Allan immediately pointed to the spot. Dembele took responsibility, coolly sweeping the ball down the middle as Woods dived to his right.

After that, the hosts never looked in danger of losing their grip on the points, with Craig Gordon only called into serious action deep into stoppage time when he tipped substitute Eamonn Brophy’s header over the bar.

Most of the action continued at the other end as Mackay-Steven and Armstrong tried their luck, while Sinclair had a penalty shout turned down in another dominant display from Brendan Rodgers’ side.

CELTIC (4-3-3) Gordon; Gamboa, Boyata, Sviatchenko, Tierney; Armstrong (McGregor 85), Bitton, Brown; Forrest (Mackay-Steven 9), Dembele (Griffiths 72), Sinclair
Not Used: De Vries, Toure, Izaguirre, Henderson

HAMILTON (3-5-2) Woods; Devlin, Donati, McMann; Skondras, McKinnon, Gillespie, Redmond (Kurtaj 69), Imrie; Bingham (Brophy 75), Boyd (Docherty 64)
Not Used: Matthews, Seaborne, Watson, Adams


img_0882-1


Scottish Premiership
Celtic Park, Glasgow
Saturday, February 18, 2017

CELTIC…2
(Dembele 34 pen., Forrest 41)
MOTHERWELL…0

FIRST-HALF goals from Moussa Dembele and James Forrest saw Celtic cruise past Motherwell in Paradise and clock up their 20th successive league victory. Dembele bagged his 27th goal of a prolific season from the spot after he had been fouled in the box by Zak Jules.

And Forrest, a constant threat with his pace and direct running throughout the match, quickly doubled the advantage with a fine solo effort.

The champions’ grip on the points never looked in danger, with Craig Gordon rarely tested and the Bhoys coming close on several occasions to adding to their tally. And that meant Brendan Rodgers’ side restored their 27-point lead at the top of the table and extended their unbeaten domestic run since the start of the season to 31 matches.

Jozo Simunovic came back into the starting XI in the only change to the Hoops team that crushed Inverness Caley Thistle in the Scottish Cup last weekend, with Erik Sviatchenko dropping to the bench. Liam Henderson made his third successive start in the No.10 role, while goal machine Dembele continued to lead the line after back-to-back hat-tricks.

Although Celtic dominated possession in the opening stages, meaningful chances were scarce as the visitors, perhaps mindful of their heavy midweek defeat to Aberdeen, adopted a conservative approach and defended deep in their own half.

With space at a premium through the middle, Forrest and Kieran Tierney tried to offer some cutting edge down the flanks, and it was the Celtic Youth Academy graduates who eventually unlocked the Steelmen backline around the midway point of the half.

Collecting a pass down the left, Tierney spotted Forrest’s run inside the box and quickly picked out his team-mate. Forrest’s angled shot was pushed away by Craig Samson only as far as Henderson, but the young midfielder was unable to steer the rebound on target.

In the 34th minute, Celtic’s perseverance paid off.  Henderson’s corner was flicked on by Simunovic and when Dembele attempted to reach the loose ball, he was sent tumbling by defender Jules.

Referee Don Robertson immediately pointed the spot and Dembele confidently converted from 12 yards to continue his incredible scoring form That sparked a brief response from Mark McGhee’s side, and Gordon was called into action for the first time when he had to push away Stephen Pearson’s effort after Louis Moult had knocked the ball back into box.

But goal number two didn’t take long to arrive for Brendan Rodgers’ side as Forrest skipped past former Hoops youth player Joe Chalmers and drilled a low shot inside the far post. And Forrest underlined his confidence on the stroke of half-time by stinging Samson’s palms with rasping drive from distance as the Hoops finished the half in complete control.

Stuart Armstrong replaced Henderson for the start of the second half, making his return after a four-week injury lay-off. And the midfielder showed he was back up at full throttle by stealing possession within moments of the restart and releasing Dembele, whose effort was blocked at the edge of the area.

Nir Bitton also tested Samson with a blistering long-range shot as the Hoops continued to crank up the pressure. The Israeli midfielder then showed some nimble footwork to dribble into the box and tee-up Dembele, who had another attempt charged down.

Ominously for Motherwell, Dembele was beginning to find more space and he flashed a shot narrowly wide after being released by Brown as Celtic broke at pace. He threatened again in the 54th minute, when Scott Sinclair, closely marked throughout the match, had the fans on their feet after waltzing past two players and sending the ball across goal.

With the game becoming more stretched, Sinclair was also growing in prominence and he wasn’t far away with a curling free-kick after being felled on the edge of the box. And he spurned a golden chance to wrap up the points as the game entered its closing stages when he volleyed Forrest’s powerful cross over.

Brown blasted inches over from 25 yards as the Hoops comfortably saw out the final few minutes to maintain their domestic dominance.

CELTIC (4-2-3-1) Gordon; Lustig, Boyata, Simunovic, Tierney; Bitton (McGregor 83), Brown; Forrest, Henderson (Armstrong 46), Sinclair; Dembele
Not Used: De Vries, Izaguirre, Gamboa, Mackay-Steven, Sviatchenko

MOTHERWELL (4-4-2) Samson; McMillan, Heneghan, McManus (Jules 5) Chalmers; Cadden (Bowman 54), Lasley, Clay, Pearson; McDonald, Moult
Not Used: Griffiths, Ainsworth, Frear, Lucas, Campbell

skysports-moussa-dembele-celtic_3888984


Scottish Cup fifth round
Celtic Park, Glasgow
Saturday, February 11, 2017
CELTIC…6
(Lustig 21, Dembele 45, 50, 59, Tierney 86, Brown 90+1)
INVERNESS CALEY THISTLE…0

MOUSSA Dembele made it back-to-back hat-tricks for Celtic after his quick-fire treble helped the Hoops beat Inverness Caley Thistle 6-0 to book their spot in the Scottish Cup last eight and extend their domestic unbeaten run to 30 matches.Last Sunday against St Johnstone the striker took 24 minutes to complete this three-goal haul but this time he only required 14 minutes to repeat the feat as his sensational debut season with the champions continued.

Mikael Lustig’s deft finish had put the Hoops deservedly ahead, following superb supply work from Nir Bitton, before Dembele got in on the act on the stroke of half-time when Owain Fon Williams was unable to keep out his low shot.He made it 3-0 early in the second half with a measured finish and completed his hat-trick with a powerful header after meeting a cross from the outstanding James Forrest.

Forrest again turned provider as Kieran Tierney struck number five, before captain Scott Brown piled on the visitors’ misery by lashing the ball into the top corner in the dying seconds as Paradise stood to acclaim another dazzling display. Still on track for a domestic clean sweep, Brendan Rodgers’ side will now take their place in tomorrow’s (Sunday) draw for the quarter-finals of the competition.

There were two changes to the side that beat St Johnstone 5-2 at McDiarmid Park last weekend, with Forrest restored to the side and hat-trick hero, Dembele, leading the line. Patrick Roberts and Gary Mackay-Steven were the players to drop out, with the latter named among the substitutes.Liam Henderson, who opened the scoring last Sunday, retained his place in the starting XI and it was the young midfielder who threatened first for the Bhoys when he fired wide from 20 yards inside the opening 60 seconds.

As Celtic continued to make the early running, Tierney was next to try his luck but he was unable to control his half-volley after a surging run from Forrest down the right.
After this initial flurry of chances, however, the Hoops had to be content with bossing possession as the visitors threw men behind the ball and tightly-marked several Hoops forwards, such as Scott Sinclair, who was followed by David Raven wherever he roamed.
But in the 21st minute they unlocked the Inverness rearguard to open the scoring after a piece of superb invention from Bitton and Lustig. The Israeli internationalist picked out the run of the right-back with a sublime lofted pass, and Lustig controlled it an instant before cleverly flicking the ball into the net.

The champions looked keen to quickly inflict further punishment, with Henderson curling a shot over and Forrest having an attempt blocked by the backtracking Gary Warren.
To try and stem the Celtic tide, Richie Foran’s side restored to some roughhouse tactics, with Carl Tremarco, Ross Draper, Iain Vigurs all seeing yellow for reckless challenges in the space of eight minutes. Apart from increasing their card count, it had no affect on the flow of the match as Brendan Rodgers’ side remained in complete control and Warren became the fourth Inverness player to enter the book for a foul on Dembele.

Playing with his usual vigour, Henderson continued to supplement the attack and he found himself in another good position as half-time approached, but he couldn’t keep his a shot down after good work from Sinclair.Moments before the interval, Celtic doubled their advantage. Forrest was the architect, leaving Tremarco for dead and teeing up Dembele, whose low effort crept under Owain Fon Williams and trickled over the line.

It only took the Hoops five minutes of the second period to add to their tally. The visitors failed to clear their lines and when Raven’s last-gasp challenge on Sinclair rolled invitingly into the path of Dembele, he dispatched the ball into the corner.It now looked a matter of how many more goals Celtic would score as Fon Williams saved smartly from Henderson, following some slick, one-touch build-up play, and Bitton dragged a shot wide.

Just before the hour-mark, the Highlanders’ resistance crumbed again. As the home side surged forward on the counter, Dembele swept a pass wide to Forrest on the right. The winger reached the byline and delivered an inviting cross which the onrushing Dembele headed emphatically into the net for his second treble in the space of six days.
The impressive Forrest should have got on the act himself in the 68th minute after he dispossessed the dithering Brad McKay but he drilled inches wide with only Fon Williams to beat.

Vigurs belatedly blasted wide for the away side, before Dembele and Brown came close. In the closing stages, the Hoops broke through again as Tierney powered a header into the net from Forrest’s centre.And right at the death, Brown smashed the ball beyond Fon Williams after Sinclair had wreaked havoc on the left as the Celtic juggernaut rolled on.

CELTIC (4-2-3-1) Gordon; Lustig, Boyata (Toure 88), Sviatchenko, Tierney; Bitton, Brown; Forrest, Henderson (McGregor 66), Sinclair; Dembele (Ciftci 81)
Not Used: De Vries, Izaguirre, Gamboa, Mackay-Steven

INVERNESS CALEY THISTLE (4-5-1) Fon Williams; Raven, Warren, McKay, Tremarco; King (Mulraney 54), Draper (Cole 64), Tansey, Vigurs, Anier; Billy McKay (Ebbe 64)
Not Used: Hoban, Polworth, Fisher, Boden


st-johnstone-v-celtic-may-11th-2016-_1


Scottish Premiership
McDiarmid Park, Perth
Sunday, February 5, 2017

ST JOHNSTONE…2
(Watson 31, Boyata o.g. 43)
CELTIC…5
(Henderson 6, Dembele pen. 61, 75, 85 Sinclair 81)

MOUSSA Dembele came off the bench to bag a 24-minute hat-trick as Celtic fought back to sweep aside St Johnstone 5-2 at McDiamird Park and extend their domestic unbeaten run to 29 games.Liam Henderson had put the Hoops into an early lead in Perth but the hosts went in ahead at the interval thanks to Keith Watson’s header and Dedyrck Boyata’s own goal.
But moments after entering the fray, Dembele restored parity from the penalty spot after Keith Watson had been penalised for handling Kieran Tierney’s cross.

The striker’s cool finish from Mikael Lustig’s cutback made it 3-2 and, after Scott Sinclair had sealed the win with a breakaway goal, he completed his treble with five minutes left on the clock following some terrific skill from Lustig and Callum McGregor.Having clocked up their 19th consecutive league victory, Brendan Rodgers’ side now enjoy a 27-point lead at the top of the table as they close in on a sixth successive league title.

The Irishman had made made three changes from the Celtic team that defeated Aberdeen 1-0 on Wednesday night. Erik Sviatchenko returned in central defence, Henderson started in an advanced midfield role while Gary Mackay-Steven was deployed on the right of the attacking trident. Jozo Simunovic, McGregor and James Forrest were the players to drop out, with all of them named among the substitutes.And it only took Henderson six minutes to justify his selection as he opened the scoring after goalkeeper Zander Clark had denied the Hoops twice in quick succession.

Industrious play from birthday Bhoy Patrick Roberts sparked the move. He stole possession from Danny Swanson and played in Mackay-Steven, whose shot was parried by Clark. Mackay-Steven retrieved the ball to maintain the danger, however, and then it was Roberts’ turn to be denied by Clark following Brown’s pass. But the shot-stopper left was helpless when Henderson followed up to confidently sweep home the rebound with an accurate left-footed finish.

It was the perfect start for the champions, who had started with pace and purpose, and Henderson almost bagged a second shortly after when he met Kieran Tierney’s cutback but Tam Scobbie was on hand to block the shot.Having being under the cosh in the opening exchanges, the home side started to grow into the contest. Danny Swanson was off target with an ambitious effort from distance, and it was the Saints’ top scorer who spotted the run of Richard Foster into the box in the 18th minute but Craig Gordon was out quickly to block the wide-man’s effort.

Celtic continued to look the more dangerous side, though, and a rapid breakaway from the Bhoys should have seen them double their advantage. Henderson fed Sinclair on the halfway line and he accelerated through the middle before supplying Mackay-Steven, who bore down on Clark but was unable to beat the keeper.And Brendan Rodgers’ side were punished for their profligacy just beyond the half-hour mark as the Saints levelled the match. After the Hoops had been forced to concede a corner after a quick counter-attack, Keith Watson rose highest from Swanson’s delivery to head home, despite Gordon’s best efforts.

Stung by that setback, the Bhoys tried to muster a response and Henderson had a shot saved and Sinclair fired over.But, particularly on the break, the home side remained a threat and they completed a surprise turnaround as half-time approached. David Wotherspoon had just come close with a header minutes earlier, and it was his presence that caused Dedryck Boyata to head into his own net from Swanson’s delivery.

There was still time for Celtic to mount a late flurry of pressure – Roberts tested Clark with a half-volley and Henderson had a free-kick saved – but they had the unusual sensation of trailing at the interval.The champions looked determined to remedy this situation as they started the second half at a furious tempo, with Henderson thwarted by Clark from an acute angle after a quickly-taken free-kick.St Johnstone midfielder Paul Paton was also lucky not to avoid further censure than just a yellow card when cynically taking out Nir Bitton
Just beyond the hour-mark, they got their reward. Tierney left Foster for dead on the left, and when his delivery appeared to strike the arm of Watson, referee Craig Thomson pointed to the spot. Dembele, only just on a sub, calmly slotted away the penalty with his first touch of the game.

The momentum had now swung firmly back in Celtic’s direction, and Dembele put them back in front with 15 minutes left on the clock. Lustig managed to retrieve Tierney’s cross on the byline and when the Swede rolled the ball back towards the edge of the box, Dembele sent a composed finish beyond Clark.That forced the Saints to commit more men forward and Brendan Rodgers’ side took full advantage. From a St Johnstone corner, Brown picked out Roberts on the right. The winger burst inside and found Sinclair, who applied the finish.
And there was still time for Dembele to grab his hat-trick, the 20-year-old adjusting his feet quickly to find the net after superb work from Lustig and McGregor as the champions survived another test to maintain their fabulous form.

CELTIC (4-2-3-1) Gordon; Lustig, Sviatchenko, Boyata, Tierney; Bitton, Brown; Mackay-Steven (Dembele 59), Henderson (McGregor 71), Sinclair; Roberts (Ciftci 86)
Not Used: De Vries, Simunovic, Gamboa, Forrest

ST JOHNSTONE (4-4-2) Clark; Watson, Shaughnessy, Scobbie, Easton; Foster (MacLean 78), Paton, Wotherspoon (Alston 70), Swanson; Davidson; Cummins
Not Used: Manus, Millar, Smith, Craig, Thomson


_93914701_boyatacel4_sns


SPFL Premiership
Celtic Park
Wednesday February 1, 2017

CELTIC…1
(Boyata 57)
ABERDEEN…0

DEDRYCK Boyata’s powerful header powered Celtic to their 18th league win in a row and on to the 67-points mark as they overcame a dogged Aberdeen side at Paradise.

The defender’s second-half strike, his second in three games, was the only goal in a match that was largely controlled by Celtic from start to finish but saw the home side’s chances limited, particularly in a first-half where the Dons defended deep and in numbers.

The solitary effort nonetheless secured a deserved victory for Brendan Rodgers’ side and helped stretch the champions’ domestic unbeaten run to 28 games.

After emphatically overcoming Hearts 4-0 at the weekend, the Hoops made just one change to the team, with Mikael Lustig replacing Cristian Gamboa in defence, but there was a more noticeable change to the overall system deployed by Brendan Rodgers at the start of the game, with the Celts lining up with three at the back and four across midfield.

That switch gave Kieran Tierney licence to roam down the left as an attacking midfielder, but Derek McInnes responded by tasking Jonny Hayes with the responsibility of man-marking the Celtic teenager.

The 19-year-old won the early battle, however, flashing a shot over from outside the box inside five minutes after losing his man as he and Patrick Roberts led the charge for the Celts early on.

It took the Dons the better part of 20 minutes to create anything in retaliation but Graeme Shinnie’s shot from 20 yards was still enough to get Craig Gordon scrambling as the ball rippled the outside of the net. The opportunity transpired to be the only one of its kind for the visitors as the champions rarely let possession slip in a dominant but ultimately fruitless first-half.

The Pittodrie side were marshalled well at the back, defending their 18-yard line in numbers but Celtic’s varied combination play and flashes of skill from Roberts and Scott Sinclair gave hope that a breakthrough could be made before the interval.

It looked like the Celts were on the verge of doing just that when Callum McGregor’s clinical through pass gave Roberts space to run into five minutes before half-time but Ryan Jack slid in at the precise moment to intercept the winger’s pass to Sinclair and thwart what would surely have been the opener.

After a goal-less first-half Celtic’s play was given an injection of pace as the Hoops passed the ball even quicker, particularly around the Dons box. The visitors remained tight at the back but a poor tackle from Hayes on Tierney after the 19-year-old evaded his attentions allowed the Bhoys to storm into the lead.

The foul gave Scott Sinclair the perfect angle to cross into the box from the left and his precise delivery was met perfectly by Dedryck Boyata, who arched his body in mid-air after making a run to the front post to put his back to goal and crash a thunderous header into the net to break the deadlock.

Sinclair then almost turned from provider to scorer when he controlled Bitton’s looped pass over the backline, spun his marker and curled a shot towards the top corner, but the crossbar denied the Englishman what would have been a stunning goal.

The winger’s relentless running at the Aberdeen defence soon saw him on the receiving end of a late lunging challenge from Shinnie before Ash Taylor waded in with an incredibly reckless two-footed sliding tackle on the former Manchester City star as he spun away in midfield to launch another attack.

The Dons were reeling while Celtic were rampant and space was beginning to open in the visiting defence. Gary Mackay-Steven and Liam Henderson’s introduction in the final stages sought to exploit that with yet another domestic win in sight.
The pair looked lively, with Henderson in particular exhibiting flashes of composure under pressure, but neither could create another clear-cut chance for the Bhoys to add to their lead.

It mattered little in the end, however, as the Hoops dealt with what limited attack the Dons offered as the game entered its final minutes, allowing Boyata’s header to stand as the only goal of the game, a strike which sent Celtic 25 points clear at the top of the SPFL Premiership after 23 games.

The champions now stand on 67 points ahead of Sunday’s trip to McDiarmid Park where they will take on St Johnstone.

CELTIC (3-4-3) Gordon; Lustig, Simunovic, Boyata; Forrest (Mackay-Steven 71), Bitton, Brown, Tierney; McGregor (Henderson 79), Roberts (Sviatchenko 86), Sinclair.
Not used: De Vries, Izaguirre, Gamboa, Aitchison

ABERDEEN (5-3-2) Lewis; Hayes, Logan (Pawlett 90), Taylor, Reynolds (Stockley 86), Considine; Jack, McLean, Shinnie; Rooney (Storey 76), McGinn.
Not used: Alexander, O’Connor, Wright, Ross


img_0695


Scottish Premiership

Celtic Park, Glasgow

Sunday, January 29, 2017

CELTIC…4
(McGregor 30, Sinclair 77, pen. 90+1, Roberts 80)
HEARTS…0

SCOTT Sinclair bagged a late brace as Celtic cruised past Hearts in Paradise to eclipse the Lisbon Lions’ 26-game domestic unbeaten run which they set in the club’s historic 1966/67 season.

The Hoops led at the break through Callum McGregor and controlled proceedings throughout, but it took them until the closing stages to seal the spoils when Sinclair and Patrick Roberts struck in quick succession.

And there was still time for Sinclair to convert from the penalty spot after 16-year-old Jack Aitchison, on as a late substitute, was sent tumbling in the box by Lennard Sowah.

It was the champions’ 17th consecutive league victory and restored their 22-point advantage at the top of the table as their domestic domination shows no sign of abating.

Roberts came into the Celtic starting XI in one of two changes to the team that saw off St Johnstone on Wednesday night. The winger, who last started for the Bhoys on Christmas Eve away to Hamilton, replaced Moussa Dembele, with Scott Sinclair moving inside to spearhead the Hoops attack.

An injury to Stuart Armstrong in the warm-up forced Brendan Rodgers into another enforced switch, with McGregor promoted from the bench. Emilio Izaguirre took his spot among the substitutes.

The Bhoys bossed possession in the early stages but it took them until the ninth minute to garner a sight of goal, with Nir Bitton having a shot deflected over from 20 yards. And the Israeli internationalist was also on the end of the resultant corner, glancing a volley wide from Roberts’ delivery.

An alert James Forrest then robbed John Souttar of possession inside the box but Sinclair was flagged offside when he received the ball.

Aside from long-range shots from Malaury Martin and Jamie Walker, the visitors were generally preoccupied by defensive duties, flooding men behind the ball in attempt to frustrate the champions.

It was proving a successful strategy as the Hoops struggled to meaningfully test goalkeeper Jack Hamilton but on the half-hour mark he was beaten as the home side clinically broke the deadlock with their first shot on target.

Having just been moved back out to his traditional left-flank position by Brendan Rodgers, Sinclair collected possession and embarked on a mazy run. He picked out the run from McGregor, and the midfielder impressively took the ball in his stride before dispatching a shot into the net via the inside of the post.

The thrusting runs of Kieran Tierney down the left looked the most likely outlet for Celtic to add to their tally but Ian Cathro’s side held firm and could have levelled on the stroke of half-time had Walker kept his header down from Martin’s free-kick.

That was a timely reminder of the slenderness of the home side’s lead and they started the second period with urgency and purpose in search of building a more secure advantage.

James Forrest flashed a dangerous cross into the box, Cristian Gamboa shot wide and only a last-ditch from Liam Smith denied Forrest as the winger bore down on goal.

Bitton and Roberts also had shots comfortably saved by Hamilton, though the keeper was motionless when Roberts took aim again in the 68th minute and was relieved see the ball curl inches beyond his far post.

Hearts survived this spell of pressure, however, and they created their best chance of the match, when Martin broke clear from a simple ball over the top but Craig Gordon was able to claw his shot to safety.

Straight up the other end, Tierney showed terrific tenacity to beat Smith to the ball and send in a wonderful cross for Sinclair, but the wide-man was unable to divert the ball home.

The killer second goal finally arrived with 13 minutes left on the clock. Tierney was the architect, drilling the ball across goal and when Aaron Hughes failed to deal with the danger, Sinclair forced the ball home from close-range.

Celtic quickly inflicted further punishment as the away side’s resistance crumbled. Once again, Tierney was the provider, racing on to Henderson’s pass and cutting the ball back for Roberts, who had time to take a touch before lashing high into the net.

Substitute Liam Henderson had a shot blocked by Hughes and then Sinclair crowned off a memorable afternoon with a confidently-taken penalty after teenager Aitchison had been felled by Sowah in the box.

CELTIC (4-3-3) Gordon; Gamboa (Lustig 79), Simunovic, Boyata, Tierney; Brown, Bitton, Armstrong; Roberts (Aitchison 82), Sinclair, Forrest (Henderson 67)
Not Used: De Vries, Mackay-Steven, Sviatchenko, Izaguirre,

HEARTS (4-2-3-1) Hamilton; Smith, Souttar, Hughes, Sowah; Kitchen (Beith 81) Cowie; Nicholson (Choulay 59), Martin (Sammon 78) Walker; Johnsen
Not Used: Noring, Oshaniwa, Bikey, Zanata,


img_0674
SPFL Premiership

Celtic Park

Wednesday January 25, 2017
CELTIC…1
(Boyata 71)
ST JOHNSTONE…0

BRENDAN Rodgers’ Celtic etched their names into the history books as they equalled the Lisbon Lions’ 26-game unbeaten start to a domestic season with a 1-0 win over St Johnstone.

The record, set by Jock Stein’s all-conquering Hoops side of 1966/67, was matched as Dedryck Boyata’s goal ensured a 25th victory out of 26 domestic games. The only blip was a 2-2 draw away to Inverness Caley Thistle back in September.

The decisive goal now gives the Celts a chance to eclipse the Lions’ record when Hearts visit Paradise this Sunday.

The victory, which now puts the Hoops 22 points clear of their closest rivals at the summit of the SPFL Premiership, also coincided with a historic landmark for Celtic captain Scott Brown, who made his 400th appearance for the club with a trademark commanding display in midfield.

Brown was one of 10 of players who kept their place in the side following the 3-0 victory over Albion Rovers on Sunday in the Scottish Cup fourth round, while Jozo Simunovic was brought in as a replacement for Mikael Lustig.

The champions largely dominated an entertaining, if a little frantic, first-half and had the ball in the back of the net inside 10 minutes when Scott Sinclair rose at the back post to nod James Forrest’s clipped cross past Zander Clark, but the ball was judged to have gone out of play before the Scotland winger could get his delivery in.

The Celts were twice denied on the line in the midst of an end-to-end spell of the action as a curling shot from Stuart Armstrong and a powerful header from Dedryck Boyata were cleared, while Craig Gordon was relieved Danny Swanson hit the post.

Both teams weathered the frenetic period of action but it was the Hoops who found themselves back on the front foot as half-time approached and they almost scored when Moussa Dembele fired narrowly wide from a Scott Sinclair cutback.

A similar move again saw Dembele crack an effort over the bar after another driving run and shot from Armstrong had been blocked for a corner. It was the Forrest’s turn to be thwarted by goalkeeper Clark as the winger took aim from 20 yards before half-time as Sinclair was again denied by the visiting defence.

The Perth side’s resistance was tested straight from the restart but Tommy Wright’s team remained resolute in defence. Their drilled, disciplined tactics allowed Celtic little space in the final third, and any time they did, the ball had to make its way through a sea of blue and white shirts in the box before reaching Clark in goal.

The Hoops needed a fresh approach and Brendan Rodgers looked to his bench for inspiration, adding Patrick Roberts to the mix in place of Forrest as Brown and Armstrong finally got the first shots on target of the second-half.

The young Englishman had an almost instant impact, turning two Saints defenders inside-out on the edge of the box at the byline before cutting the ball across the six-yard box but both Dembele and Sinclair couldn’t find the net.

Boyata then had a header cleared off the line again with 20 minutes left from an Armstrong corner, but a second chance from an identical set-piece saw the 26-year-old out-jump Steven Anderson to power an unstoppable header past Clark to finally give the champions the well-deserved lead with 20 minutes left.

It was the Belgian defender’s first goal of the season in only his third appearance under Brendan Rodgers but was a mark of the defender’s confidence and willingness to prove himself at Paradise.

St Johnstone instantly switched their approach, throwing on two attackers and it brought a string of corners for the visitors but the Hoops survived the danger, despite Brown ending up in his own net after a strong challenge at one of the set-pieces.

Leigh Griffiths reinforced Celtic’s strength up front, replacing Dembele while Erik Sviatchenko took the impressive Cristian Gamboa’s place in defence late on, and the Dane’s presence was a calming influence at the back.

St Johnstone had one final throw of the dice with a late free-kick fired into Celtic territory but Sviatchenko was there to clear the danger and secure an historic win for Brendan Rodgers’ Hoops on a special night for the team and the captain.
Only Hearts stand in the champions’ way now from surpassing the record set by Jock Stein’s team as the league games continue to come fast and furious for the Celts.

CELTIC (4-1-2-3) Gordon; Gamboa (Sviatchenko 83), Simunovic, Boyata, Tierney; Bitton; Armstrong, Brown; Forrest (Roberts 63), Dembele (Griffiths75), Sinclair.
Not used: De Vries, Izaguirre, Mackay-Steven, , McGregor

ST JOHNSTONE (4-4-2) Clark; Watson, Anderson, Shaughnessy, Scobbie; Wotherspoon (Alston 59), Paton, Millar, Craig; Kane (MacLean 79), Swanson (Cummins 79).
Not used: Mannus, Davidson, Easton, Thomson

img_0446


Scottish Premiership
Ibrox Stadium, Glasgow
Saturday, December 31, 2016

RANGERS…1
(Miller 12)
CELTIC…2
(Dembele 34, Sinclair 70)

SCOTT Sinclair’s 11th league goal of the season saw Celtic fight back to seal a deserved Glasgow derby victory over Rangers at Ibrox and maintain their sensational start to the season going into the new year.Kenny Miller had fired the hosts into an early lead but the champions restored parity before the break thanks to Moussa Dembele’s thunderous strike.

From that moment on, the champions were the dominant side, creating countless chances before they finally found a way through in the 70th minute when the excellent Sinclair converted Stuart Armstrong’s cross at the far post, a goal that proved decisive in a pulsating contest.The final whistle was the signal was jubilant celebrations among the players on the pitch and in the away end, with Brendan Rodgers’ side extending their unbeaten domestic run to 24 games and stretching their lead at the top of the table to 19 points, having played a game fewer than their rivals.

Dembele, who had scored four times against the Ibrox side already this season, including a hat-trick in the last league meeting of the sides, was restored to the starting XI – and he certainly proved his worth.His inclusion was one of two changes to the team that beat Ross County 2-0 on Wednesday night, with Callum McGregor returning to the midfield following his suspension.

Leigh Griffiths and Ryan Christie were the two players to drop out, with the former named among the substitutes.Prior to kick-off, a minute’s silence was observed by for the 66 fans that tragically lost their lives in the Ibrox Disaster.The match then started at its usual frenetic pace and it was the home side who made the first foray forward almost straight from the kick off. Barrie McKay collected a loose ball on the left, drove forward and picked out Joe Garner in the box but Armstrong was back quickly to make a timely challenge at the expense of a corner.

McKay had made a lively start for Rangers and he supplied Jason Holt on the edge of the box in the fourth minute, giving the former but Craig Gordon leapt to his right to make a low save.After this initial flurry from the Ibrox side, Celtic started to settle into their stride, enjoying some periods of possession, with Armstrong having a shot deflected wide from distance and Mikael Lustig heading the resultant corner over. Sinclair also shot wide after fastening onto a long ball over the top.

But in the 12th minute the hosts broke the deadlock. James Tavernier drilled a ball across from the byline and Miller stabbed home from close range.Emboldened by their goal, Rangers continued to pour forward and Martyn Waghorn, an early replacement for the injured Garner, had a header saved by Gordon but the offside flag was raised in any event.

The champions gradually worked their way back into the contest and after Armstrong and McGregor had combined on the edge of the box, the latter worked a sight of goal in the box but he curled well over.With space at a premium in midfield and the game being played at a furious pace, it took until the 33rd minute for Celtic to carve out their next opening on the counter-attack. Sinclair’s speed saw him beat the offside trap and, although he was unable to get the original pass under control, he still managed to manoeuvre his way into the box and crack a shot off the inside of the post.

From the resultant corner, the Hoops levelled the match in stunning style. Sinclair’s lofted delivery was missed by everyone in the middle but dropped for Dembele at the far post and he lashed in a ferocious half-volley that ripped into the top of the net, sending the away support into delirium.

The momentum now swung firmly in Celtic’s direction and had James Forrest got a better contact from Emilio Izaguirre’s low delivery then it could have been quick-fire turnaround for Brendan Rodgers’ side.Sinclair had been a constant menace down the left with his pace, movement and trickery, and he threatened again as half-time approached, thrusting into the box and bringing out a flying save from Wes Foderingham.

The visitors continued where they had left off as the second half got underway and Sinclair curled a free-kick wide after Dembele had been felled by Tavernier on the apex of the box.Moments later, Dembele spurned an excellent chance to grab his second of the game after Lustig had cleverly found him in the box in acres of space, the Frenchman failing to make clean contact.

Foderingham then came to his team’s rescue, blocking Forrest’s shot after Armstrong’s deft pass has put the winger in the clear.It was one-way traffic and the woodwork denied Celtic for a second time in the 55th minute. McGregor scampered down the left and his cross was met acrobatically by Dembele on the volley. He did brilliantly to keep the ball down but could only watch in anguish as the ball bounced up and struck the underside of the bar before Sinclair sent the rebound into the side-netting.

Rangers survived the onslaught, replying with a McKay shot that was straight at Gordon, while Waghorn also failed to capitalise when breaking clear of the Celtic defence, though there did appear to be handball earlier in the move. Around the midway point of the half, Sinclair was thwarted by Foderingham and the offside flag after a one-two with Dembele and then Gordon saved from Danny Wilson at the other end following a Rangers corner – but it was Celtic who deservedly broke through again with 20 minutes remaining on the clock.

Only minutes after replacing Forrest, Patrick Roberts threaded a pass through for Armstrong and his low cross was swept home at the far post by Sinclair. Armstrong had been growing in prominence and only a superb save from Foderingham denied him making it 3-1 after he had been supplied by Roberts.

The Hoops were almost punished for their profligacy on the break when Halliday centred for Miller, whose shot rolled off the far post.
But Celtic could easily have inflicted further punishment as the clock ticked down, with Armstrong coming close on two occasions before the Hogmanay party got underway in earnest in the Broomloan Stand.

CELTIC (4-1-2-3) Gordon; Lustig, Simunovic, Sviatchenko, Izaguirre; Brown; McGregor (Bitton 86), Armstrong; Forrest (Roberts 68), Dembele, Sinclair
Not Used: De Vries, Toure, Griffiths, Gamboa, Mackay-Steven

RANGERS (3-5-2) Foderingham; Kiernan; Hill, Wilson; Tavernier, Holt (Forrester 82), Halliday, Windass (Dodoo 65) McKay; Garner (Waghorn 16), Miller
Not Used: Gilks Hodson, Crooks, O’Halloran


images


SPFL Premiership
Celtic Park
Wednesday December 28th, 2016

CELTIC…2
(Sviatchenko 38, Armstrong 45+2)

ROSS COUNTY…0

TWO of quick-fire goals before half-time from Erik Sviatchenko and Stuart Armstrong saw Celtic finish 2016 undefeated at Paradise in domestic competition as they overcame Ross County 2-0.

The Scottish champions kicked off the year at home with a 1-0 win against Partick Thistle in January and brought their 2016 fixtures at Celtic Park to a close with a convincing win over the Highlanders to go 16 points clear at the top of the table after Rangers drew with St Johnstone at McDiarmid Park.

The victory also marked Celtic’s 19th game unbeaten in the league this season and their 14th win on the bounce in the Premiership.Sviatchenko’s 35-yard drive, closely followed by Armstrong’s fine solo effort, established Celtic’s dominance in the first-half and they went on to control possession with a passing masterclass in the second 45 minutes. 

No more goals came in the second-half, despite the best efforts of the Bhoys, but the clinical first-half strikes were enough to send Celtic to Ibrox on Saturday undefeated ahead of their final game of the year.Brendan Rodgers made three changes for the clash with Ross County, with James Forrest lively on his return to the starting XI in place of Patrick Roberts on the right, while Ryan Christie did well to get himself on the ball in the central attacking role behind Leigh Griffiths, coming in for the suspended Callum McGregor. 

Jozo Simunovic completed the changes, coming in for Cristian Gamboa.Celtic eventually established their authority in possession but the visitors underlined their threat on the break with a wasted chance from Liam Boyce after an industrious run from Christie was thwarted outside County territory midway through the first-half.

The Bhoys then spurned their best chance to that point when a brave tackle from Forrest worked the ball out to Emilio Izaguirre on the left flank, but Scott Sinclair could only direct his header from the Honduran’s cross wide of Scott Fox’s goal.

The pressure eventually paid off, though, just before half-time and it came from an unlikely source – a 35-yard strike from Erik Sviatchenko. The Danish defender received the ball in midfield and took a touch to avoid the attentions of Alex Schalk, striding forward past the centre-circle. With no-one in front of him, he took aim and guided a low shot past Fox’s outstretched right hand to give Celtic a deserved 1-0 lead.

Wave after wave of Hoops attack then flooded the County half and the reward for Celtic’s perseverance came swiftly through another piece of individual excellence, this time from Stuart Armstrong.The midfielder gathered the ball just outside the box and feinted to shoot with his left, then his right, before finally unleashing a low shot with his left foot into the far corner, putting the champions comfortably in charge at the break.

The Hoops went right back on the hunt for more goals at the start of the second-half but they had their momentum stunted by a dangerously late tackle on Forrest from Chow, who caught the winger flush on the ankle with a lunging tackle from behind.

The Scotland internationalist soon dusted himself off, however, and continued to influence play, getting involved in some nice interplay on the edge of the County box with Scott Sinclair before Griffiths fired a header over from Scott Brown’s deep cross.

Brendan Rodgers shuffled his pack by replacing the impressive Christie and Griffiths with Liam Henderson and Moussa Dembele with just over 20 minutes left, before Forrest was also withdrawn for Roberts after the winger found himself on the receiving end of another strong tackle in midfield.

The Bhoys’ stranglehold on the ball continued as the game entered the final stages with their relentless passing and movement dragging the visitors out of position and into needless tackles, with Martin Woods booked for one such incident with Scott Brown just outside the Celtic box.

The Staggies midfielder could have then saw red with 10 minutes to go when he went in late on the Celtic skipper again but referee Nick Walsh didn’t produce a second yellow – one of several decisions which irked the home crowd throughout the game.

Woods’ reprieve almost proved costly for Celtic minutes later when he dug out the ball from Brown’s feet and curled a long-range shot at goal but Craig Gordon tipped the swerving effort round the post at full stretch.

The visitors then ended the game like they started but there was no reward for their late flurry, despite Gordon being called into action to save on his line to palm away Andrew Davies’ header from Woods’ corner.The save preserved Celtic’s 2-0 lead and the final whistle propelled the champions to their 14th league win on the bounce and a 16-point lead over second-placed Rangers with a game in hand ahead of Saturday’s Glasgow derby at Ibrox, which will round off the first-half of the season before the winter break.

CELTIC (4-1-2-3) Gordon; Lustig, Simunovic, Sviatchenko, Izaguirre; Brown; Christie (Henderson 62), Armstrong; Forrest (Roberts 70), Griffiths (Dembele 66), Sinclair.
Not used: De Vries, Toure, Bitton, Gamboa

ROSS COUNTY (4-5-1) : Fox; Fraser, Quinn, Davies, McEveley; Curran, Routis (McShane 66), Chow, Woods, Boyce (Morrison 76); Schalk (Tumilty 62).~
Not used: McCarey, Dow, Dingwall, McLaughlin


Scottish Premiership
SuperSeal Stadium
Saturday, December 24, 2016

HAMILTON ACCIES…0
CELTIC…3
(Griffiths 41, Armstrong 54, Dembele 83)

STUART Armstrong’s Christmas cracker helped ten-man Celtic record a comfortable 3-0 win over Hamilton Accies to extend their domestic unbeaten run to 22 games and preserve their 14-point advantage at the top of the table. Leigh Griffiths had fired the Hoops into the lead at the break at the Superseal Stadium, before Callum McGregor was harshly sent off for a second booking minutes into the second half.

But Brendan Rodgers’ side showed their fighting spirit to swiftly double the advantage through Armstrong, the in-form midfielder finding the top corner with a ferocious long-range shot.And after that the Bhoys resolutely held firm and clinically sealed a 13th straight victory as substitutes James Forrest and Moussa Dembele combined for the latter to guide a shot beyond goalkeeper Gary Woods.

Griffiths returned to spearhead the Celtic attack as Brendan Rodgers made four changes to the team that saw off Partick Thistle on Tuesday night. Erik Sviatchenko and Emilio Izaguirre were restored to the defence and Stuart Armstrong came back in central midfield. Dembele, Calvin Miller, Liam Henderson and Jozo Simunovic were the players to drop out.
Despite the torrential and windswept conditions, Celtic made a positive start and Sviatchenko almost put them ahead in the fourth minute when his header from Griffiths’ corner was diverted onto the underside of the bar by Rakish Bingham, with the ball eventually scrambled clear by the hosts.

At the other end, Bingham threatened to get on the end of Ali Crawford’s centre before Scott Sinclair shot over after cutting in from the left.Moving the ball around with pace and playing with plenty of width, the Hoops continued to take the game to Martin Canning’s side, and they threatened again from another Griffiths corner. His low delivery was flicked on by Armstrong and Scott Brown was unable to scramble the ball past Woods in the ensuing melee.

After this initial flurry of offensive activity, the game became scrappier and bogged down in a congested midfield area, though the Bhoys still managed to conjure up some intricate passages of play, with the lively Sinclair to the fore.And it was the wide-man who picked out McGregor in the box the 26th minute with a precise pass. The midfielder did well to dance away from one defender but his final effort was charged down by Scott McMann.
A rare Hamilton breakaway saw Dougie Imrie fire a powerful shot straight into Craig Gordon’s arms, as the stalemate continued.

Griffiths shot over and Cristian Gamboa lashed narrowly wide from distance before Celtic grabbed the vital breakthrough four minutes before the break.McGregor threaded a pass through the middle and when Michael Devlin failed to deal with it, Griffiths was onto it in flash, bursting through the middle and then finishing emphatically into the corner past Woods.Dembele replaced the goalscorer for the start for the start of the second half and the champions soon had to make another reshuffle in controversial circumstances.

McGregor, who had been booked in the first half, collided with McMann on the touchline as he attempted to block a clearance. It looked an innocuous challenge but referee Willie Collum produced a second yellow card and gave the 23-year-old his marching orders.
Nir Bitton was introduced from the bench at the expense of Patrick Roberts to bolster the midfield but the ten men showed they were still a force to be reckoned with as Armstrong doubled the lead with a sensational strike from distance

Picking up the ball 35 yards from goal, the former Dundee United man took a touch before unleashing an unstoppable drive into the top corner.With their advantage in personnel, Hamilton were having more of the ball but, aside from a low shot from Louis Longridge that Gordon did well to push round the post, they were failing to seriously trouble the Celtic backline.And a sublime piece of skill from Bitton which took him beyond an Accies defender and into the box presented Dembele with a sight of goal, the Frenchman’s shot from 18-yards saved by Woods.

Hamilton sub Eammon Brophy headed wide and was denied by Gordon before the Bhoys broke at speed to completely kill off the home side’s resistance, with Dembele finishing with conviction from Forrest cutback.And there was still time for Forrest to shot wide as the clock ticked down as the champions finished on top to keep the Celtic juggernaut rolling on.

CELTIC (4-1-2-3) Gordon; Gamboa, Lustig, Sviatchenko, Izaguirre; Brown; McGregor, Armstrong; Roberts (Bitton 51), Griffiths (Dembele 46), Sinclair (Forrest 76)
Not Used: De Vries, Toure, Christie, Henderson

HAMILTON ACCIES (3-4-1-2) Woods; Sarris, Devlin, McMann; Longridge, Mackinnon, Donati, Imrie; Redmond (Brophy 55); Crawford, Bingham (D’Acol 72)
Not Used: Thomson, Seaborne, Cunningham, Breslin, Hughes


img_0238


SPFL Premiership
Celtic Park, Glasgow
Tuesday December 20, 2016

CELTIC…1
(Sinclair 17)
PARTICK THISTLE…0

SCOTT Sinclair’s first-half strike helped Celtic surge into a 14-point lead at the top of the SPFL Premiership as they edged past a stubborn Partick Thistle at Paradise.

The Hoops winger notched his 11th goal of the season with a clinical first-time hit after Liam Henderson’s clever free-kick, and the goal proved enough to earn the champions their 16th league victory of the season, protecting their unbeaten run in Scottish football which now stands at 21 games.

Sinclair’s finish came early in the first-half but it was Thistle who had started the game in enterprising fashion and led the action in terms of goalmouth chances in a bright opening 15 minutes.

The visiting side’s ambitious 4-4-1-1 formation gave them width in the flanks, enough to test debutant Calvin Miller at left-back with the pace of David Amoo, and to create a number of good opportunities, the best of which fell to striker Ade Azeez, who pulled out a good save from Craig Gordon with a shot flashed across goal from right to left.

Liam Lindsay also took aim from a Thistle corner, arching a shot over the bar, but the Jags’ early enthusiasm was dampened just a minute later when Callum Booth was booked for a foul on Cristian Gamboa on the right side, which led to a well-worked opening goal from the Hoops.

Henderson, one of eight changes from the 2-1 win over Dundee at the weekend, skimmed the set-piece along the wet Celtic Park surface to the penalty spot to find Sinclair’s angled run from the back post, allowing the winger to curl a shot into the far corner past Tomas Cerny.

It was the Englishman’s 11th goal of the season and his first since returning from a four week lay-off, giving the Bhoys a firm foothold in the match.

And Celtic almost doubled their advantage on the half-hour makr with what would have been a memorable debut goal from Miller, but Cerny got down well to gather the 18-year-old’s right-footed shot after nice link-up play on the left from Patrick Roberts and Henderson.

The visitors were still a threat, however, with Ryan Edwards at the heart of most of their good play and it was another strong run from the Australian that set up Azeez inside the area but Gordon closed the angle and saved the striker’s shot for a corner.

The danger wasn’t over as Thistle again tested the Celtic goalkeeper from the set-piece but Lindsay was penalised for climbing on Mikael Lustig as he sent his header on target.

Tensions began to rise with half-time on the horizon as the visitors persevered with their pressing play and attacking style, while Celtic couldn’t quite find the killer pass, but the Hoops held on to their one-goal advantage at the interval.

Roberts did his best to increase that after the restart, embarking on a series of tormenting runs on the right flank but the winger’s wizardry couldn’t pry open the Jags defence. Sinclair also took aim from distance after being afforded a rare bit of space but his curling shot was off target.

Brendan Rodgers made his first tactical switch of the game after the hour-mark with the score still stuck at 1-0, introducing Emilio Izaguirre for Miller, who received a standing ovation from the home support after a promising debut.

Thistle were then guilty of not levelling the game seconds later when they sprung an attack down Celtic’s left after Izaguirre was beaten at the touchline, but Ziggy Gordon failed to get his shot on target with just the Celtic keeper to beat.

The champions then passed up their own chance to find the net when Sinclair burst free of the Thistle backline after Moussa Dembele’s crunching tackle in midfield, but Cerny saved well before the Celtic winger was replaced by Stuart Armstrong with 20 minutes left.

Dembele was then denied by Cerny before Gordon saved well from Sean Welsh’s close-range shot as a Thistle counter-attack broke up a sustained period of Celtic pressure.

Leigh Griffiths was then given just under 15 minutes to make his mark from the bench as he replaced Dembele in Brendan Rodgers’ final throw of the dice and he got straight into the action, meeting a cross from Izaguirre with a header which arched over the bar.

As time ebbed away so did the Jags’ energy to press Celtic in their own half, inviting the Bhoys further forward and bringing out two excellent stops from Cerny to thwart Roberts twice in quick succession.

The champions’ appetite for a second goal continued until the final whistle but so did Thistle’s quest for an equaliser. Sinclair’s expert finish in the first-half proved to be enough for the Bhoys, however, who now go into the weekend’s game at Hamilton 14 points clear with one game still in-hand over their closest rivals.

CELTIC (4-1-2-3) Gordon; Gamboa, Lustig, Simunovic, Miller (Izaguirre 63); Brown; McGregor, Henderson; Roberts, Dembele (Griffiths 76), Sinclair (Armstrong 69).
Not used: De Vries, Bitton, Mackay-Steven, Sviatchenko

PARTICK THISTLE: (4-4-1-1) Cerny; Gordon, Devine, Lindsay, Booth; Amoo (Erskine 68), Osman, Welsh (Barton 76), Lawless; Edwards; Azeez (Doolan 81).
Not used: Stuckmann, Elliot, Wilson, McDaid


img_0237


Scottish Premiership
Celtic Park, Glasgow
Saturday, December 17, 2016

CELTIC…2
(Griffiths 45+1, Bitton 57)
DUNDEE…1
(Haber 69)

CELTIC restored their 11-point lead at the top of the table and extended their domestic unbeaten run to 20 matches after a narrow but dominant 2-1 over Dundee.Leigh Griffiths’ fabulous free-kick sent the Hoops into the interval in the lead after they had controlled a one-sided first half and Nir Bitton doubled the advantage 12 minutes into the second period.

At that point, it looked like it would be a comfortable afternoon for the champions but Marcus Haber’s deflected strike made it a more nervy finish. However, Brendan Rodgers’ side saw out the closing stages to march on in the title race.

Ryan Christie made his second league start of the season in one of five changes to the team that saw off Hamilton on Tuesday night. Cristian Gamboa, Emilio Izaguirre, Bitton and Gary Mackay-Steven also came into the side, while Griffiths, who had also scored the winner against Hamilton Accies, continued to lead the line for the Bhoys.

Stuart Armstrong donned the captain’s armband in the absence of the suspended Scott Brown, and Mikael Lustig, Patrick Roberts, Callum McGregor and Moussa Dembele were the other players to drop out. All were named among the substitutes.Celtic began at a furious tempo, quickly pinning the visitors back deep in their defensive third and moving the ball around with pace and purpose.

Gamboa was prominent in the early exchanges, using his devastating speed to good effect to send in some dangerous deliveries from the byline, while only a last-ditch tackle from Kostadin Gadzhalov denied Christie a clear strike at goal after he had darted into the box.

Christie had another shot charged down by Tom Hateley and some quick counter-pressing from Armstrong culminated in Griffiths seeing a shot deflected wide.
In the 10th minute, a wonderfully-worked move almost saw Brendan Rodgers side open the scoring. Following a short corner, Christie fed Griffiths on the edge of the area. Showing tremendous technique, he collected a return pass from Nir Bitton in his stride and sent a guided effort off the far post.

Armstrong and Rogic had shots from distance saved by Bain as the pressure continued unabated – and then Rogic spurned a golden chance to break the deadlock. Christie picked out the midfielder’s run into the box with a sublime pass leaving him with only Bain to beat but he scooped the ball over the bar.It had been completely one-way traffic and it took until the 24th minute for Dundee to emerge from their defensive shell, with Hateley shooting over following a set-piece.

Normal service quickly resumed and Rogic had a curling shot held by Bain at the second attempt, before Kevin Holt lashed wide for the visitors with a speculative shot.As half-time approached, the champions continued to probe for a route through the sea of dark blue shirts, moving the ball from side to side as Gamboa and Emilio Izaguirre operated as auxiliary wingers.

It was taking a series of last-gasp challenges and blocks to keep the Bhoys at bay, and one desperate clearance from Gadzhalov cannoned off his own player Holt and whizzed past the post.

Finally, on the stroke of half-time, the visitors’ resistance crumbled – but only through a moment of magic from Griffiths. Rogic was sent crashing the ground 30 yards from goal by Darren O’Dea, a foul which forced the Australian internationalist to make a premature exit from the fray, and Griffiths brilliantly swept the resulting set-piece over wall and into the corner for his 12th goal of the season.Callum McGregor replaced Rogic for the start of the second half and after a short lull, the Hoops picked up the tempo and began to flood forward again.

Nimble footwork from the Christie in the box saw him dig out a cross from the byline that forced Holt to head off the line.Moments later, Dundee’s defence was breached again. After another swift interchange of passes down the left, Izaguirre’s cross from the byline was only partially cleared and Bitton picked his spot with an accurate finish from the edge of the box.

Griffiths lashed a half-volley narrowly over from 25 yards as Celtic threatened to inflict further punishment but it was the Dens Park side who grabbed the next goal.

The Hoops failed to heed a warning in the 66th minute, when Armstrong had to head Wighton’s attempt off the line following a corner as two minutes later, Haber collected a pass in the box and found the net via a deflection off Jozo Simunovic.

Scott Sinclair then made a welcome return from injury in place of Mackay-Steven before Izaguirre and Griffiths flashed shots wide. Moussa Dembele, in the running for the prestigious Young French Player of the Year prize, was also introduced and he had a couple of efforts on goal as the game became stretched.

Dundee substitute Faissal El-Bakhtaoui missed a wonderful chance to steal a point for his team, before Sinclair almost capitalised on a couple of late counter-attacks as the Hoops prevailed to cement their position at the league summit.

CELTIC (4-2-3-1) Gordon; Gamboa, Simunovic, Sviatchenko, Izaguirre; Bitton; Rogic (McGregor 46) Armstrong; Mackay-Steven (Sinclair 68) Griffiths (Dembele 78), Christie
Not Used: De Vries, Toure, Lustig, Roberts

DUNDEE (5-4-1) Bain; Kerr, Gomis, O’Dea, Gadzhalov, Holt; Wighton, Hateley (El-Bakhtaoui 87), Vincent, Williams (O’Hara 64); Haber
Not Used: Mitchell, Loy, Etxabeguren, Ross, Curran


_92949989_celtic


SPFL Premiership
Celtic Park
Tuesday December 13, 2016

CELTIC…1
(Griffiths 36)
HAMILTON ACCIES…0

THE gap at the summit of the SPFL Premiership between Celtic and the rest of the competition was stretched even wider as the Hoops recorded their 10th league win in a row with a 1-0 victory over Hamilton Accies.Brendan Rodgers’ Bhoys dominated the encounter from start to finish and the comfortable win, secured by Leigh Griffiths’ first-half strike, saw the Celts go 11 points clear of their closest rivals, and Brendan Rodgers will be keen to see his team extend that further against Dundee at the weekend.

The Lanarkshire side were decked out in their change kit of light blue with dark shorts for Celtic’s first home game since the League Cup final win over Aberdeen, but they found themselves drowning in a sea of green and white in a first-half dominated by the home team.Griffiths and Moussa Dembele, one of three changes from Friday’s win over Partick Thistle, linked up well in the early stages, with Patrick Roberts and Tom Rogic both lively in and around the crowded Accies penalty area, where most of the play focused.

Celtic continuously weaved together a string of short passes round the visitors’ 18-yard box before trying to thread a killer final ball, but there was little reward for them in the first 25 minutes as Martin Canning’s team defended resolutely against relentless attacking.
Playing with a back three, the champions had the numerical advantage in midfield and support in attack to break down Accies’ back five, but patience was required as the teams played out a game of tactical cat and mouse in the first-half.

Persistence finally provided dividends for the champions, however, when the Hoops strikers combined to excellent effect to break the deadlock. The move started with Rogic’s excellent through pass to Dembele from midfield, setting the Frenchman up with just the keeper to beat from 18 yards.The 20-year-old cleverly spotted the run of Griffiths, however, and selflessly passed to his strike partner, who, after fending off a challenge from Grant Gillespie, calmly stroked the ball home for the opener.

And the Celtic goal-machine could have grabbed his 12th of the season minutes later when he latched on to a looping pass over the Hamilton defence, but the forward dragged his effort just wide of the post, leaving the Bhoys with a slim but deserved one-goal advantage at the break.The visitors returned to the pitch early following the interval and started the second-half enthusiastically, with Ali Crawford’s powerful shot bringing out the first save of the game for Craig Gordon.

Roberts’ wing wizardry was still a constant menace for the Bhoys, however, and his determination to reach the byline again and again continued to create problems for Hamilton, setting up Griffiths for an off-target shot before forcing a short back-pass from the Accies defence that almost let in Dembele.Stuart Armstrong then passed up a chance to add to the lead after good work from Dembele before intense pressing from Griffiths almost forced the visitors into conceding an own goal with another slack back-pass.

Brendan Rodgers’ side were relentless in their quest for a killer second goal and could have found it through Roberts’ trickery down the right again, but substitute Gary Mackay-Steven just failed to connect with the Englishman’s cross at the back post.Rogic was next to go close with a thunderous swerving effort that went inches wide of the right-hand post before he was scythed down by Gillespie at the other end, earning the Accies man a booking.

Celtic’s appetite for goals continued but in the end the champions were forced to settle for the solitary first-half strike from Griffiths. However, the win was still enough to establish a commanding 11-point cushion at the top of the Premiership ahead of Saturday’s tussle with Dundee at Paradise.

CELTIC (3-1-4-2): Gordon; Lustig, Sviatchenko, Simunovic; Brown; Roberts, Rogic, Armstrong, McGregor (Mackay-Steven 58); Griffiths, Dembele (Bitton 83).
Not used: de Vries, Toure, Izaguirre, Gamboa, Christie
HAMILTON (5-3-2) Woods; Gillespie, Sarris, Donati, McMann, Imrie; Docherty, McKinnon, Redmond (Longridge 80); Crawford (Cunningham 89), Bingham (Brophy 76).
Not used: D’Acol, McGregor, Hughes, Thomson


download


SPFL Premiership
Firhill Stadium
Friday December 9, 2016

CELTIC…4
(Armstrong 39, 48, Griffiths 50, McGregor 81)
PARTICK THISTLE…1
(Lindsay 61)

A TRIO of second-half goals ensured Celtic went into the weekend with an 11-point cushion at the top of the SPFL Premiership after they beat Partick Thistle 4-1 at Firhill.
The champions held a one goal advantage at the interval thanks to Stuart Armstrong’s tap-in after a largely uneventful first-half but the game burst into life within three minutes of the restart when the midfielder fired in his and Celtic’s second of the game on 48 minutes.

Hoops striker Leigh Griffiths, making his first start since the win over Ross County, then made it 3-0 with a cultured turn and finish two minutes later but the Jags gave themselves a lifeline when Liam Lindsay headed home from Kris Doolan’s free-kick after the hour.
Sean Welsh then looked to have dragged his team right back into proceedings when he powered home another set-piece whipped into the Celtic box but the goal was chopped off for offside, giving Celtic a reprieve.

The three points were finally secured by the champions with less than 10 minutes left on the clock when Callum McGregor powered Emilio Izaguirre’s excellently clipped cross past Tomas Cerny, sending the Bhoys support home happy and the Hoops well clear at the summit of the table.Celtic were made to work for their slender advantage in the first-half as they bossed possession but found themselves embroiled in a string of individual battles across the pitch.

There was little subtlety about Thistle’s approach anytime they found space to attack in the first-half, with repeated highballs into Celtic’s box their most common mode of threatening the Hoops rearguard, leading to their first real chance after the half-hour mark when Erskine latched on to a defensive header from Mikael Lustig, only to fire wide with his left.Ziggy Gordon found himself in the referee’s book shortly after when he hauled down Gary Mackay-Steven, making his first start in eight months, from behind with 10 minutes left and things soon went from bad to worse for the Thistle man, when he was beaten on the turn by Griffiths in the build up to the game’s opener, which came moments later.

The striker picked up a pass from Scott Brown 20 yards out on the left and instantly turned, heading for the byline. The hit-man then cut-back a powerful low cross into the six-yard box which Armstrong beat three Jags defenders to reach with his right, sending the ball into an empty net with a simple finish to give the Bhoys a one-goal lead at the interval.It took 40 minutes for Celtic to find the breakthrough in the first-half but only three to double their advantage after the restart, with Armstrong sending his team 2-0 up with an exquisite left-footed shot from distance.

Cristian Gamboa won a free-kick for the Celts on right and Griffiths took the set-piece short, setting up Armstrong in space 20 yards out. The midfielder composed himself by taking a touch before angling a curling shot into the far corner to send the travelling support into raptures.The Bhoys fans had barely finished celebrating the strike when Celtic stormed three goals in front two minutes later after good work again from Gamboa won possession for the Hoops up the pitch as Thistle tried to gain their composure after taking centre.

The full-back’s tackle fed the ball to Griffiths in the area, who showed strength and composure to roll his marker and open up space to shoot with his left, allowing him to smash a bending shot past Cerny from close range.Alan Archibald responded instantly with a double change, as did Celtic by introducing Callum McGregor and Ryan Christie for Rogic and Mackay-Steven, but it was the Jags who benefited after the switches when Lindsay grabbed a goal back for the home side, towering above the Hoops defence to loop a header past Craig Gordon after Kris Doolan’s free-kick.

The Firhill side then thought they were right back into the game when Welsh headed in another free-kick moments later but the former Hibs ace was flagged offside.
An action-packed spell of play continued when Roberts curled a shot over on 65 minutes before Griffiths was denied a second goal a minute later when the striker showed wonderful skill to beat a succession of Thistle players, only to see Cerny palm his effort wide.

Moussa Dembele’s introduction for Roberts indicated the Celtic manager’s desire to properly secure the victory but there was a brief moment of concern when Thistle substitute Ade Azeez went down under a challenge from Craig Gordon on the edge of the box but the striker was booked for simulation.

The game was finally put to bed in the final 10 minutes, however, when Izaguirre bore a hole into the Jags defence on the left flank and picked out McGregor with expert precision, allowing the midfielder to fire Celtic’s fourth goal into an empty net with his right.
The goal gave the Hoops clear breathing space again and helped them leave Firhill with their 12th domestic win in a row, despite a late flurry of free-kicks and long balls into the box from the home side.

CELTIC (4-1-2-3) Gordon; Gamboa, Lustig, Sviatchenko, Izaguirre; Brown; Rogic (McGregor 58), Armstrong; Roberts (Dembele 75), Griffiths, Mackay-Steven (Christie 58)
Not used: De Vries, Toure, Bitton, Boyata,
PARTICK THISTLE: (4-5-1) Cerny; Booth, Lindsay, Gordon, Barton; Elliot, Amoo (Edwards 57), Osman, Erskine (Lawless 57), Welsh; Doolan (Azeez 75)
Not used: Stuckmann, Devine, Wilson, McDaid


city-v-celtic-match-centre


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

MANCHESTER CITY…1
(Iheanachho 8)
CELTIC…1
(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 overMackay-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


motherwell_vs_celtic


Scottish Premiership
Fir Park, Motherwell
Saturday, December 3, 2016

MOTHERWELL…3
(Moult 3, 35, Ainsworth 71)
CELTIC…4
(McGregor 48, Roberts 70, Armstrong 72, Rogic 90)

TOM Rogic’s sensational last-gasp goal saw Celtic complete a stunning second-half comeback against Motherwell at Fir Park to edge an extraordinary seven-goal thriller.
The Hoops trailed 2-0 at the interval through Louis Moult’s double but they rallied superbly in the second half to draw level thanks to Callum McGregor and Patrick Roberts.
Just moments after Roberts had equalised, however, Lionel Ainsworth put the hosts back in front but, remarkably, Stuart Armstrong restored parity again almost straight from the restart.

Roared on by the travelling support, Brendan Rodgers’ side piled on the pressure in the closing stages and got their rewards as Rogic curled into the far corner, sealing an incredible victory which stretches their lead at the top of the table to 11 points with two games in hand.Kolo Toure made his appearance in around seven weeks in the only change to the side that triumphed against Aberdeen in the League Cup final six days ago.

The central defender, who had not featured since the UEFA Champions League meeting with Borussia Monchengladbach on October 19 due to injury, replaced Erik Sviatchenko in the heart of the backline for the league clash in Lanarkshire.Before the match got underway a minute of silence was impeccably observed by both sets of supporters in memory of the Chapecoense football team following the tragic plane crash in Columbia earlier this week.

Craig Gordon had not been beaten in his previous eight domestic matches but it only three minutes for that record to come to an end as the home side opened the scoring.
A raking pass over from the top from former Celtic skipper Stephen McManus picked out Moult, who lobbed the ball over the Hoops goalkeeper with a first-time shot.Celtic responded with a wave of pressure, with Roberts embarking on some mazy runs, one of which almost led to an opening for Moussa Dembele, but the Steelemen held firm.

At the other end, they remained a threat on the counter and Jozo Simunovic had to make an important block from Chris Cadden’s cutback.Although the Hoops were struggling to find their normal fluency, they still worked their way into a number of promising positions, with Roberts having a shot blocked and Forrest firing wide from Dembele’s return pass.
Moult flicked Cadden’s cross wide of the far post before a slick interchange of passing from the Bhoys allowed Forrest to find some space in the box.

His low delivery found Roberts but the winger was unable to release a shot under pressure from a host of Motherwell defenders.The lively Armstrong had a couple of attempts, one from which distance which whizzed inches wide, and Dembele was unable to get the ball under control when racing into the box as the champions’ frustrations continued.
And 10 minutes before half-time, they found themselves two goals adrift. Ross MacLean delivered a pinpoint cross from the left and Moult was on hand to volley home at the far post.

In order to spark a resurgence from his side, the manager made a tactical switch for the start of the second half, moving to a back-three, with Roberts and James Forrest providing the width.And there was an instant response as McGregor, on as a first-half substitute for Emilio Izaguirre, reduced arrears. Darting into the box, the midfielder collected a return pass from Dembele and lashed a shot into the corner.Playing with greater purpose and tempo, Celtic roared forward, with Rogic and Forrest coming closest as the Motherwell defence desperately threw themselves in front of a series of shots and Samson made a number of smart saves.

Eventually the intense pressure paid off. Armstrong did well to reach the byline and his cross was headed in at the far post by Roberts.That was the cue for an astonishing 60 seconds as first Motherwell restored their lead through substitute Ainsworth, who volleyed in at the far post, and then Armstrong steered a shot beyond Samson to tie the game up at 3-3.It was all Celtic now as they launched wave after wave of attack and in the 90th minute they completed the turnaround.Collecting a pass in the box, Rogic cut inside and then found the far corner with a stunning finish to send the away support into raptures.

CELTIC (4-1-2-3) Gordon; Lustig, Simunovic, Toure, Izaguirre; Brown (McGregor 30); Rogic, Armstrong; Roberts (Bitton 90 +1) Dembele, Forrest (Gamboa 90 +3)
Not Used: De Vries, Mackay-Steven, Christie, Boyata
MOTHERWELL (4-4-1-1) Samson; Tait (Bowman 90 +1) Heneghan, McManus, Hammell; Cadden (Ainsworth 69), Lasley, Clay, MacLean (McMillan 73); McDonald, Moult
Not Used: Brill, Thomas, Ferguson, Campbell


68988d241b60f1ec59c5c627af21a023


Betfred League Cup final
Hampden Park, Glasgow
Sunday, November 27, 2016

CELTIC…3
(Rogic 16, Forrest 37, Dembele 64 pen.)

ABERDEEN…0

CELTIC lifted the 100th major honour of its illustrious history today at Hampden after clinically putting Aberdeen to the sword in the League Cup final.

Tom Rogic opened the scoring in the 16th minute with a sublime curling shot and James Forrest rifled in number two before half time after his electric speed had ripped the Dons defence part.

And after the impressive Forrest had been felled in the box by Anthony O’Connor, Moussa Dembele confidently stroked home the resultant penalty for his 17th goal of the season to end the Pittodrie side’s resistance.

The final whistle was the spark for jubilant celebrations on the pitch and in the stands as Brendan Rodgers claimed his first trophy as manager of the club and the champions secured the first silverware of the season.

Patrick Roberts and Forrest came into the Celtic starting XI as the manager made two changes to the team that took on Barcelona in the UEFA Champions League on Wednesday night.

Roberts replaced Callum McGregor on the right of an attacking trident, while Forrest started on the left in place of the injured Scott Sinclair, the winger having picked up a knock just before half-time against the Catalan giants.

And the duo saw plenty of the ball in the early exchanges as the Hoops bossed possession, probing for openings, while Aberdeen deployed plenty of personnel behind the ball and attempted to hit on the counter.

Having fastened onto a pass from Roberts in the box, Forrest had a penalty appeal waved away after he went down under Shay Logan’s challenge, but it took until the 13th minute for the Bhoys to create their first sight of goal following a flowing move down the left.

Stuart Armstrong picked out the overlapping run of Emilio Izaguirre and the Honduran’s inviting delivery was met powerfully by Dembele but Joe Lewis made a smart stop to push his header away, with Rogic firing the rebound over from 20 yards.

Rarely had the Dons ventured forward but just moments after James Maddison had a shot from distance blocked by Erik Sviatchenko, Celtic raced up the park and broke the deadlock.

Jozo Simunovic showed terrific determination to drive through the middle and find Rogic lurking on the angle of the box. The Australian internationalist cut inside onto his favoured left-foot and curled an exquisite shot into the far corner beyond Lewis’ despairing dive.

The Pittodrie side replied with a glancing header from Andrew Considine following Maddison’s free-kick but Craig Gordon was equal to it.

Brendan Rodgers’ side continued to look the greater threat and only a last-gasp challenge by Ash Taylor prevented Dembele playing in Roberts after some fantastic foraging from Rogic to steal back possession.

Following an incisive burst inside from Roberts, Forrest also shot inches wide from the edge of the box but the Scotland internationalist wasn’t to be denied as he quickly doubled the advantage.

Collecting Rogic’s pass just inside the Aberdeen half, the wide-man drove at the heart of the Dons backline. His pace took him past Anthony O’Connor and into the box where his clinical finish left Lewis helpless.

As the Celtic support rejoiced at their team’s commanding position, Derek McInnes’ side produced their most sustained spell of pressure as half-time approached, though Adam Rooney’ wayward shot from 18 yards was all they could muster.

With Aberdeen having to adopt a more cavalier approach after the restart, there were greater gaps for the Hoops to exploit and Forrest and Dembele threatened to profit from Roberts’ header across goal.

With Jonny Hayes more prominent on the left, the Dons had a brief flurry as they launched some balls into the box but aside from Kenny McLean’s header which flew over, the Celtic rearguard held firm.

And just after the hour-mark, they effectively killed off the contest. Rogic spotted Forrest’s run and the winger reached the ball before O’Connor who sent him tumbling to the ground. Referee John Beaton pointed immediately to the spot and Dembele coolly dispatched the penalty, sending Lewis the wrong way.

Stuart Armstrong spurned a late opportunity to inflict further punishment on the Pittodrie outfit when lashing inches wide, with Forrest again the architect, but that couldn’t dampen the delight among the players, management team and supporters as the showpiece ended in a deserved triumph for the champions.

CELTIC (4-1-2-3) Gordon; Lustig, Simunovic, Sviatchenko, Izaguirre; Brown; Rogic (McGregor 77), Armstrong; Roberts (Bitton 66), Dembele, Forrest (Griffiths 90)
Not Used: De Vries, Toure, Gamboa, Mackay-Steven

ABERDEEN (4-1-2-3) Lewis; Logan, Taylor, O’Connor (Stockley 65) Considine; Jack; Shinnie, McLean; Hayes (McGinn 71), Rooney (Burns 79), Maddison
Not Used: Alexander, Reynolds, Pawlett, Storey


skysports-lionel-messi-celtic-barcelona_3838583

UEFA Champions League
Celtic Park
Wednesday November 23, 2016
CELTIC…0
BARCELONA…2
(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


img_5359


SPFL Premiership
Rugby Park, Kilmarnock
Friday November 18, 2016

CELTIC…1
(Armstrong 44)
KILMARNOCK…0

A SOLITARY but clinical first-half strike from Stuart Armstrong propelled Celtic 13 points clear at the top of the SPFL Premiership as the Hoops overcame Kilmarnock 1-0 at Rugby Park.On a freezing cold night in Ayrshire it was the midfielder’s well-placed effort on the stroke of half-time that warmed the hearts of the travelling support and sent the Bhoys back up the M77 with another three points and their seventh consecutive clean sheet in Scotland.

The Bhoys were powerful in attack in the opening 45 minutes and water tight at the back in the second, ensuring their unbeaten domestic record remains intact with their ninth win on the bounce.With half his squad having travelled to all ends of the globe in the recent international break, Brendan Rodgers decided to opt for freshness for his side’s trip to Rugby Park, utilising only four of his stars who had represented their respective countries in the past 10 days.

The Scotland trio of Craig Gordon, Scott Brown and James Forrest all started alongside Moussa Dembele, while there was also a space for Dedryck Boyata, who made his first start since the Scottish Cup quarter-final in April as the champions donned their new pink away strip for the first time this season, warming up a cold night in Ayrshire.The Belgian slotted into defence alongside Mikael Lustig, Erik Sviatchenko and stand-in left-back Callum McGregor but the focus was largely at the other end as the Hoops bossed the opening stages.

Sviatchenko flashed a header just over the bar from the first corner of the game before Forrest forced Jamie MacDonald to save at full stretch as the winger took aim with his left from the edge of the box. Just as the Hoops were pressing for the opener, however, Killie almost took the lead against the run of play when striker Flo Bojaj met Greg Taylor’s near-post cross but he couldn’t direct his glanced header on target.Celtic’s pressure looked to have finally paid off shortly before half-time when Dembele blasted a close-range shot into the net after a knock down from Scott Brown but the Hoops skipper was flagged offside.

The home side’s resistance was finally undone, however, when the break of the ball fell kindly for James Forrest 20 yards out. The winger picked out Dembele on the edge of the box and he threaded a neat pass into the path of Armstrong, who placed a sweet shot past Macdonald to give the Bhoys the lead at the interval.That scoreline could have ;been doubled just seconds after the restart when McGregor burst down the left channel and into the box but his shot was saved and Sinclair sliced the rebound over.

A determined Celtic then brought out the best in MacDonald again when he doubled over backwards to palm away Patrick Roberts’ curling shot after having raced to the edge of his area to gather a pass that was cleared by the Killie defence.The scare sparked the home team into life as they pushed the Hoops back down the flanks, focusing on McGregor on Celtic’s left and making room to cross on a number of occasions. The fresh legs and more physical presence of substitute Nathan Tyson also added weight to Killie’s attack but the Bhoys soon followed suit, switching Patrick Roberts with Tom Rogic.

Lee Clark’s team remained largely in the ascendancy as the game entered the final 20 minutes but for all their attacking intent there was little in the way of an end product, owed largely to Celtic’s defensive tenacity and organisation.The introduction of Souleymane Coulibaly with just over 10 minutes left further indicated the home team’s desire to claim something from match but the forward, the last Kilmarnock player to score against Celtic, could do little to stop his team falling to their third defeat in a row at the hands of the Bhoys as the champions saw out the final minutes to hold on to their 1-0 lead and go a further three points clear at the top of the table.

And although not the scoreline may not have as emphatic as Brendan Rodgers may have wanted, the result maintained the Hoops’ winning momentum as they now focus on the visit of Barcelona in the UEFA Champions League.

CELTIC (4-2-3-1) Gordon; Lustig, Boyata, Sviatchenko, McGregor; Armstrong, Brown; Forrest (Bitton 85); Roberts (Rogic 66), Sinclair; Dembele
Not used: De Vries, Izaguirre, Gamboa, Toure, Christie

KILMARNOCK (4-2-3-1) MacDonald; Hendrie, Boyle, Boyd, Taylor; Dicker (McFadzean 89), Smith; Frizzell, McKenzie, Jones (Coulibaly 78); Bojaj (Tyson 58)


celtic-ict-thumb-jpg-93ae208a4e8cb589f7e910b9afff481c

SPFL Premiership
Celtic Park, Glasgow
Saturday November 5, 2016

CELTIC…3
(Sinclair 48, Griffiths 63, Rogic 83)
INVERNESS CT…0

A TRIO of second-half strikes from Celtic gave Brendan Rodgers’ side a deserved win over Inverness Caley Thistle at Paradise in the SPFL Premiership.After a frustrating first-half that saw Mikael Lustig forced off with injury inside 15 minutes, the champions came back out for the second-half fired up and took the lead through Scott Sinclair’s half volley after the restart.

Leigh Griffiths added a second with a tap-in after Callum McGregor had been scythed down by Greg Tansey, who was red-carded for the offense after the goal, before substitute Tom Rogic capped off an ultimately productive afternoon for the Bhoys with a low finish at the game approached its conclusion.

The result left the Celts 10 points clear at the top of the SPFL Premiership ahead of the international break and gave them their sixth clean sheet in a row in Scotland.
There was a feeling of optimism around the ground ahead of kick-off after Brendan Rodgers named an ultra-attacking line-up, with four changes from Tuesday’s 1-1 draw with Borussia Monchengladbach.

Griffiths, Patrick Roberts, Jozo Simunovic and McGregor were all brought into the side in place of James Forrest, Tom Rogic, Cristian Gamboa and Emilio Izaguirre as the Celts lined up 3-4-3.The Bhoys started full of attacking intent but that optimism soon turned to anger when Lustig was forced off after a crunching tackle by Josh Meekings inside 15 minutes.

The Caley Thistle defender went in straight-legged on the Swedish full-back, catching him flush on the foot but the tackle went unpunished and Celtic were forced to rethink their approach.Stuart Armstrong dropped into an unfamiliar role as auxiliary right-back while Emilio Izaguirre replaced the injured Lustig, with the sickening challenge on the Celts defender leaving a sour taste in the mouth among the home support.

The Celtic fans were further aggrieved by the referee’s patience with Inverness’ robust challenges but the Hoops battled on and almost took the lead midway through the first-half when Leigh Griffiths connected with an excellent pass from McGregor but Owain Fon Williams tipped the volley off the bar and over.

Inverness’ dogged resistance continued to thwart the Hoops’ momentum as half-time approached but the champions persisted with their patient passing style and it almost paid off when Izaguirre found Armstrong free in the box with a curling cross but the midfielder sent his header wide just the keeper to beat.

With just two minutes to go until half-time, Greg Tansey finally had his close attention to Scott Brown penalised with a yellow card after fouling the Celtic captain in the centre of the pitch, before Scott Sinclair almost broke the deadlock with a mazy run and shot, but fired his effort over from inside the box.

The Hoops man atoned for his miss almost instantly after the break, however, when Celtic re-emerged unchanged and went back on the hunt. Good closing down from Griffiths won the ball back for the Bhoys and he passed to Brown, who laid off a lovely ball to McGregor in a central area outside the box.

The midfielder then clipped a delightful pass into the path of Sinclair who let it bounce up in front of him just inside the box before smashing a volley into the far corner to give Celtic a deserved lead.
The Hoops formed a near impenetrable wall around the Inverness box in the wake of the goal, pinning the visitors back as they sought to add to the advantage and they soon had their wish.

Inverness made a double switch on the hour mark after Nir Bitton replaced Scott Brown and the Bhoys capitalised as Richie Foran’s side acclimatised to the changes.
Jake Mulraney and Alex Fisher barely had time to get into position when McGregor picked up the ball in midfield again and got off an excellent pass to Dembele before being hacked down by Tansey after the ball was away.

The ref played advantage, allowing Celtic’s French striker to arch a shot to the far corner, which came back off the post straight to the feet of Griffiths, who tapped in easily to net his ninth goal of the season and first in six appearances.Things then went from bad to worse for Inverness when Tansey was shown a second yellow for his foul on McGregor and ordered off, reducing them to 10 men.

The Highlanders must have breathed a sigh of relief when Brendan Rodgers then brought off Moussa Dembele with 20 minutes left but the respite was short lived, when they saw he was being replaced by Tom Rogic.

The Australian’s talent for taking the ball on the turn in tight spaces was the last thing a beleaguered Inverness backline would have wanted to see and he soon set up Roberts 20 yards out with a neat flick but the visitors blocked the shot.The playmaker then finished off the afternoon for the champions in style when he fastened on to a fine cut-back from the impressive Armstrong, and rifled a low shot into the net, despite the best efforts of Fon Williams to make it 3-0.

Chances continued to come for the Celts in the dying minutes, with Izaguirre unfortunate not to make it 4-0 in stoppage time, but the trio of strikes in the second-half proved enough for the Bhoys to run out comfortable winners, establishing an impressive 10 point lead at the top of the table.

CELTIC (3-4-3) Gordon; Lustig (Izaguirre 14), Simunovic, Sviatchenko; Armstrong, Brown (Bitton 61), McGregor, Griffiths; Roberts, Dembele (Rogic 70), Sinclair

Not used: De Vries, Gamboa, Christie, Forrest

INVERNESS CT (4-2-1-3) Fon Williams; McKay, Warren, Meekings, Polworth (Cole 78); Horner, Tansey; Vigurs; Draper, Doumbouya (Fisher 62), King (Mulraney 62)

Not used: Mackay, Boden, Sutherlan


1477926753-8282

UEFA Champions League
Borussia-Park
Tuesday, November 1, 2016
BORUSSIA MONCHENGLADBACH…1
(Stindl 32)
CELTIC…1
(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


aberdeenvceltic

SPFL Premiership
Pittodrie stadium, Aberdeen
Saturday October 29, 2016
CELTIC…1
(Rogic 24)
ABERDEEN…0

A SENSATIONAL curling effort from Tom Rogic propelled Celtic to a 1-0 win over Aberdeen at Pittodrie today, sending the champions 10 points clear at the top of the SPFL Premiership after 10 games.The Australian playmaker wreaked havoc through the Dons midfield and backline all day, and could have had a hat-trick were it not for the saves of Joe Lewis in goal, but the midfielder’s cultured finish from 20 yards in the first-half proved enough for Brendan Rodgers’ Bhoys and gave them a deserved victory over Derek McInnes’ team.

The result capped off a fine week for the champions that started with victory over Rangers in the League Cup semi-final and ended with a convincing win over their closest challengers in the league ahead of Tuesday’s UEFA Champions League clash with Borussia Monchengladbach.Some inconsistent officiating from referee Steven McLean characterised the opening stages of a match that started scrappily, with Erik Sviatchenko booked for his first tackle while a string of Dons players went unpunished for similarly lunging challenges.

Aberdeen had the early momentum, pushing Celtic back down the flanks but the Bhoys, as they have been so often lately, were dangerous on the counter-attack, with Moussa Dembele an early threat through the middle.The Frenchman was one of six changes made to the team from Wednesday’s 4-0 win over Ross County and after eventually settling into the match it was one of the other fresh faces who missed that victory who put the Hoops in front on 24 minutes.The Celts had possession deep in Dons territory and floated a cross in to the box that was cleared by Shay Logan but it fell straight to Rogic, who quickly steadied himself 20 yards out and cut across the ball with his left to curl a sweet volley into the net past Joe Lewis and give the champions the lead.

Play swung from end to end after the goal as both teams continued to struggle to stamp any real authority on proceedings but the Dons had their chances to get back into the game as half-time approached.The marauding runs of Emilio Izaguirre, who retained his spot in the team in place of the injured Kieran Tierney, left space for Jonny Hayes to attack and he capitalised on that, sending a string of dangerous crosses into the Hoops box for his team-mates.Andrew Considine was the first beneficiary, sending a header over, before Sviatchenko did just enough to stop Ryan Jack making a clean connection at the front post. The biggest chance for the Dons came from the same avenue but Jozo Simunovic did well to block Considine’s back-post volley.

Celtic were guilty of missing their own chance to go further ahead before the break, however, when Rogic supplied an excellent pass for Stuart Armstrong in the box but the midfielder didn’t make a clean connection.The Bhoys dominated from the restart, forcing Aberdeen into a double switch less than 10 minutes into the second-half as their frontline failed to influence proceedings. James Maddison and Adam Rooney came on for Niall McGinn and Ryan Jack but it was the Hoops who remained on top and could have been out of sight before the hour mark if it wasn’t for the saves of Lewis in the Dons goal.

The Englishman was at full stretch to tip Scott Sinclair’s goal-bound effort over the bar before saving twice from Rogic as the Australian continued to probe and create opportunities for his team.Aberdeen were not out, however, and it took a perfectly timed tackle from Simunovic to stop Hayes from pulling the trigger with just Gordon to beat as the game became stretched again with 20 minutes left.Brendan Rodgers recognised the danger and withdrew Rogic from the action, replacing him with the more defensive-minded Nir Bitton before refreshing attack with Patrick Roberts, who took over from James Forrest on the right.

The gradually growing tensions evident from kick-off between the teams finally boiled over when Scott Brown and Jonny Hayes clashed near the dugout, with both men booked for their part in the mêlée that ensued.Both teams made their final throw of the dice as a fiery contest approached its conclusion, with Cristian Gamboa coming on for Mikael Lustig and Jayden Stockley replacing Wes Burns for Aberdeen.The home side piled men forward in search of the equaliser, buoyed by the announcement of five minutes added time and they passed up a great chance to equalise when another Hayes cross was missed by the Celts defence but Maddison couldn’t control his volley from 12 yards.

The Dons again could have nicked an equaliser with a pair of late free-kicks, one of which cannoned off the head of Erik Sviatchenko under pressure from Aberdeen keeper Joe Lewis but two strong hands from Craig Gordon saved the day for the Bhoys and earned them a deserved three points, putting them well clear of the competition in the SPFL Premiership.

CELTIC (4-2-3-1) Gordon; Lustig (Gamboa 78), Simunovic, Sviatchenko, Izaguirre; Armstrong, Brown; Forrest (Roberts 75), Rogic (Bitton 70) Sinclair; Dembele
Not used:, Griffiths, , De Vries, O’Connell, McGregor

ABERDEEN (4-2-3-1) Lewis; Considine, Reynolds, O’Connor, Logan; Shinnie, Jack (Maddison 54); McGinn (Rooney 54), McLean, Hayes; Burns (Stockley 83)


rosscountyvceltic


Scottish Premiership
Global Energy Arena, Dingwall
Wednesday, October 26, 2016

ROSS COUNTY…0

CELTIC…4
(Roberts 3, Armstrong 83, Sinclair 90 +2, Dembele 90 +3)

CELTIC stretched their lead at the top of the table to seven points, with a game in hand, after an ultimately emphatic 4-0 victory away to Ross County.

Patrick Roberts opened the scoring for the champions inside three minutes with a fine solo goal and the winger had a hand in the three other goals for the Bhoys – though they had to wait seven minutes from time to double their advantage and fend off some spirited resistance from the Staggies, who had hit the post through Andrew Davies.

Roberts showed his quality in the final third by picking out Stuart Armstrong in the box with a precise pass and the midfielder made no mistake.

And after Roberts’ drive had taken a wicked deflection deep into stoppage time, Scott Sinclair was on hand to bury the rebound.

With the clock running down, there was still time for Roberts to jink his way to the byline and cut the ball back for Dembele who swept into the net.

Emilio Izaguirre made his first league start of the season for Celtic as Brendan Rodgers reshuffled his pack.  The inclusion of the Honduran internationalist was one of eight changes to the Hoops team that lined up in Sunday’s League Cup semi-final victory over Rangers.

Cristian Gamboa, Armstrong, Callum McGregor, Roberts, Ryan Christie, Liam Henderson and Leigh Griffiths also came into the side. Those to make way were Jozo Simunovic, Kieran Tierney, Scott Brown, Nir Bitton, James Forrest, Tom Rogic, Sinclair and Dembele, with the latter four named among the substitutes.

Despite the alterations, the Bhoys were straight into their stride and opened the scoring with less than three minutes on the clock.

Armstrong fed a pass into the Roberts and the English youngster drove at the heart of the County backline, dummied his way past one defender and then coolly picked his spot in the corner.

The home side mounted a spirited response, with Ryan Dow shooting over from an acute angle and Craig Gordon blocking from Liam Boyce after the striker had burst through on goal.

Celtic soon resumed the initiative, however, pinning the Staggies back with crisp passing and clever movement, and Armstrong brought out a save, albeit a comfortable one, from Fox after shooting from an acute angle.

The lively Armstrong was then fouled on the edge of the box after aiming to collect a return from Henderson, with the latter curling the resultant free-kick over.

Griffiths got his first sight of goal in the 19th minute after he was picked out by Roberts. Driving into the box, he pulled the trigger but his final attempt was deflected into the side-netting by Paul Quinn.

As the champions continued to probe at the home rearguard, Roberts shot straight at Fox from distance and the former Celtic youth keeper came to his side’s rescue again, with a superb reaction save from Christie’s shot after some positive play from Henderson down the left.

Although Brendan Rodgers’ side were dominating possession, the hosts were still offering a threat on the break.

And after a Celtic move down the left broke down, Jim McIntyre’s side countered quickly, switching the ball from the ball to Michael Gardyne on the left and his effort wasn’t far away from creeping inside the far post.

Up the other end, Henderson clipped a ball through for Griffiths who saw his powerful drive tipped round the post by Fox, much to the hit-man’s frustration.

Growing in belief at Celtic’s failure to add to their tally, the Highlanders finished the half with a decent spell of pressure, with Martin Woods and Andrew Davies having efforts on goal, but the visitors held on to their lead.

Looking to regain their control of proceedings, the visitors made an urgent start to the second half. Within a matter of seconds, Armstrong almost forced his way through on goal, before Henderson tested Fox with a low shot from distance.

But Celtic then had to survive a couple of scares as the Staggies, determined to not let the Hoops have it their own way, surged forward.

First, Woods slipped when ready to run through on goal and then Gordon had to make a superb reaction save when Burke lashed goalwards from close-range.

Just before the hour mark, Sviatchenko headed narrowly wide from Henderson’s corner as both teams started to make changes ahead of the crucial closing stages.

And the necessity for the Hoops to add a second goal was underlined when Davies headed onto the post and Gordon had to react quickly to push Marcus Fraser’s shot round the post. The Celtic shot-stopper also saw yellow when fouling Boyce as the forward chased a ball over the top.

But Celtic’s class eventually told as they moved up the gears in the final 15 minutes, helped by the introduction of Sinclair and Dembele.

The killer second goal arrived eight minutes from time. Roberts was the architect, smuggling a pass through for Armstrong who rifled into the corner.

As County committed more men forward in desperation, the Bhoys ruthlessly inflicted further punishment as Sinclair atoned for an earlier glaring miss by converting Roberts’ deflected shot.

And in the last action before the final whistle, Roberts worked his way into the box and spotted Dembele, who continued his prolific run of form to send the jubilant travelling support home happy.

CELTIC (4-2-3-1) Gordon; Gamboa, Lustig, Sviatchenko, Izaguirre; Armstrong, McGregor; Roberts, Christie (Dembele 58), Henderson (Sinclair 63); Griffiths (Bitton 89)
Not Used: De Vries, Rogic, O’Connell, Forrest

ROSS COUNTY (4-4-1-1) Fox; Fraser, Quinn (McEveley 60), Davies, Van Der Weg; Burke (Dingwall 70), McShane, Woods, Gardyne;  Dow;  Boyce
Not Used: McCarey, Morrison, Routis, Cikos


img_5056


Scottish League Cup semi-final
Hampden Park, Glasgow
Sunday October 23, 2016

CELTIC…1
(Dembele 87)
RANGERS…0

MOUSSA Dembele’s cultured close-range finish in the dying minutes of the Glasgow derby League Cup semi-final gave Celtic a deserved 1-0 win over Rangers and booked Brendan Rodgers’ side’s place in the first final of the season.After almost 45 minutes of relentless pressure in the second-half, the Hoops’ determination and perseverance finally paid off with three minutes left on the clock when the young Frenchman applied a deft finish to substitute Leigh Griffiths’ cut-back.

The goal was a piece of individual brilliance from Dembele but capped off true team performance from the Celts on a day where their belief in attacking football was eventually rewarded with a berth in the final against Aberdeen at the end of November.The match had all the usual fervour, colour and sound of a Glasgow derby and started with Celtic coming out the blocks at full speed, looking to influence proceedings early on with their quick passing style and width down the flanks.

An early through ball from Nir Bitton to Kieran Tierney into the left channel indicated the Hoops’ game plan but the Ibrox side had their own share of possession on the wings as both sides battled for supremacyBrendan Rodgers’ team played much of the opening 15 minutes on the counter-attack but that approach still provided dividends, with Tom Rogic influential in midfield, springing the Bhoys’ moves forward.

The Australian was unlucky to see an early shot deflected out for a corner before the first big decision of the match was made when Rangers’ Barrie McKay was booked for a dive in the box under a challenge from Jozo Simunovic, Celtic’s only change for the match from their mid-week European clash.Scott Sinclair could have then opened the scoring for the Hoops moments later when a wonderful through pass from Moussa Dembele sent the winger scarpering into the box unmarked but Matt Gilks saved well with his legs.

Gilks then almost gave the opener away when his poor touch in the six yard box gifted the ball to Rogic but the midfielder took a touch with his right before shooting, allowing Gilks to get back on his feet and make the save.Rangers gradually grew more into the game but rarely threatened the Celtic penalty area. Rogic meanwhile was a constant threat with his ability to take the ball on the turn regularly bamboozling the Ibrox side’s midfield and he was unfortunate with another curling effort just before the half hour mark which crept past the post after another excellent sprint forward.

As the game approached half-time Celtic began to dominate possession and pepper the Rangers penalty area with crosses and passes, with Scott Brown breaking up any bid to counter-attack from the Ibrox side. The jittery Rangers rearguard held on, however, with the teams locked in a goalless stalemate at the interval.All that looked to have changed within minutes of the restart when Erik Sviatchenko placed a header into the bottom corner after Sinclair’s pinpoint cross but he was adjudged to have fouled his marker and the effort was cancelled out.

Sinclair was then denied by Gilks again after gathering a one-two with Rogic as the Bhoys roared forward on wave after wave of attack.Rangers responded with a piercing counter-attack that saw Simunovic block Jason Holt’s goal-bound shot brilliantly before Craig Gordon did well to gather a swerving effort from McKay that spun through a mass of bodies in the Celtic penalty area.Stuart Armstrong’s introduction in place of Bitton after 60 minutes gave Rogic more licence to roam around the Rangers penalty box while also injecting more pace into the Hoops central midfield area as the Celts sought a way to break the deadlock.

The Bhoys again went agonisingly close to doing that again when Brown won a free-kick 20 yards out for his team but Sinclair’s curling set-piece smashed the cross bar and fell kindly for Gilks to gather.More attacking options were added to the Celts frontline when Leigh Griffiths came on for Rogic as the one-way traffic continued. The Edinburgh man got straight into the action, cutting back a low cross into the Rangers box from the right but there were no takers.

Celtic continued to spurn chances as Forrest and Dembele sent efforts wide of goal as time ebbed away and Rangers retreated further back but the fresh legs of Martyn Waghorn and Joe Garner forced the Hoops to be cautious at the back as they relentlessly threw bodies forward.The legs of Gilks again thwarted the Bhoys as Armstrong’s angled shot was deflected away but the pressure eventually paid off for the Scottish champions when a moment of pure class from Dembele shattered Rangers’ resistance with three minutes left.

An arching long pass was cannoned forward from the Hoops defence to the feet of Griffiths and the striker made a direct run for the box. Dembele also powered into the area and he was expertly picked out by Griffiths’ curled cut-back, which the Frenchman finished with aplomb, stroking the ball through the legs of Gilks with the instep of his trailing leg as he ran towards the front post.It was an exquisite finish from the striker and gave Celtic a deserved lead that was enough to book their place in the final against Aberdeen on Sunday November 27.

CELTIC (4-2-3-1): Gordon; Lustig, Simunovic, Sviatchenko, Tierney; Bitton (Armstrong 63), Brown; Forrest (Gamboa 90), Rogic (Griffiths 70), Sinclair; Dembele
Not used: De Vries, Toure, Roberts, McGregor

RANGERS (4-3-3) Gilks; Hodson, Hill, Kiernan, Wallace; Windass (Garner 70), Halliday, Holt; Tavernier, Miller (Waghorn 70), McKay (Dodoo 78)
Not used: Foderingham, Crooks, Senderos, O’Halloran,


_91991797_gettyimages-615657864


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

CELTIC…0
BORUSSIA MONCHENGLADBACH…2
(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


mqdefault

Scottish Premiership
Celtic Park, Glasgow
Saturday, October 15, 2016

CELTIC…2
(Sinclair 18, Dembele 87pen.)
MOTHERWELL…0

GOALS in either half from Scott Sinclair and Moussa Dembele saw a dominant Celtic put Motherwell to the sword to maintain their four-point advantage at the top of the table.Sinclair bagged his eighth goal of the season to fire the Hoops ahead following good work from James Forrest on the right. Only the heroics of goalkeeper Craig Samson kept the visitors in the game, before Dembele finally sealed the spoils in the final minutes from the penalty spot after Samson had fouled him in the box.

Liam Henderson made his first start of the season as Brendan Rodgers make three changes to the team that defeated Dundee before the latest international break. The 20-year-old, who has featured twice this season from the bench, replaced Nir Bitton in central midfield. Cristian Gamboa came in at right-back in place of Mikael Lustig, while Stuart Armstrong started in the No.10 role at the expense of Tom Rogic.

It didn’t take long for Henderson to get involved as Celtic made a bright start. Robbing Keith Lasley just outside the box inside the opening two minutes, he burst into the box and flashed a shot into the side-netting.As the Hoops continued to zip the ball around with purpose, Armstrong came close when his effort was deflected inches wide of the far post.Motherwell replied with a Louis Moult shot that was blocked by Henderson at the expense of a corner – but normal service soon resumed, with Tierney seeing a shot charged down by Lasley at the far post.

In-form striker Dembele got his first sight of goal in the 17th minute when he was fed by Tierney on the edge of the box, opened up his body and sent a curling shot towards the top corner which Craig Samson did well to push wide. From Henderson’s resultant corner, the goalkeeper was called into action to stop Erik Sviatchenko’s powerful header. The pressure was building and the Lanarkshire side’s resistance was broken 60 seconds later. Forrest, a constant menace with his speed and direct play, left one defender for dead as drove down the right before delivering an inviting low cross into the box.

Although Dembele failed to make clean contact, Sinclair was following up and he swept a first-time shot beyond Samson. Gamboa was off target from distance and Sviatchenko fired narrowly over following Sinclair’s corner as the Bhoys went in pursuit of a quick-fire second.Through some delightful swift exchanges of passing around the box against the tightly-packed Motherwell backline, the Hoops continued to threaten, but their next clear chance emanated on the counter-attack.

Brown thrust forward and found Dembele in the inside left channel. The hit-man calmly cut inside the backtracking Ben Heneghan and pulled the trigger but his curling shot cannoned off the post.
On the stroke of half-time, Tierney was agonisingly close to a goal of the season contender. Muscling Scott McDonald off the ball on the left touchline, he darted inside towards the box where a mix of determination and nimble footwork saw him beat Richard Tait twice.

He then danced away from Lasley before unleashing a ferocious shot that crashed off the top of the bar. It deserved more. A standing ovation from the home support underlined their appreciation for the talented teenager’s efforts.The breadth of the woodwork had spared the Steelmen further punishment on that occasion and then Samson came to his side’s rescue early in the second-half with a brilliant double save. First he reacted swiftly to get a hand to Brown’s deflected drive and then he managed to block Dembele on the rebound.

The Motherwell shot-stopped was rooted to his spot when Sinclair tried his luck with a swerving shot in the 56th minute, but he breathed a sigh of relief as the ball whizzed wide.In search of a second goal, Brendan Rodgers added further firepower from the bench just beyond the hour mark, sending on Leigh Griffiths and Patrick Roberts for Gamboa and Armstrong.The ever-dangerous Forrest tested Samson after another skilful run, and former Celt Stephen McManus made a last-ditch block to deny Sinclair as the Hoops continued to dominate.

Samson was having an inspired game between the sticks for the away side and he made another superb save to thwart Sinclair after he had been teed-up by Dembele in the box.With three minutes on the clock, Samson was finally beaten for a second time. Chasing a Motherwell back-pass, Dembele got the ball moments before Samson, who sent the Frenchman tumbling to the ground.Referee John Beaton immediately pointed to the spot and Dembele picked himself up and confidently found the corner, sending Samson the wrong way in the process.

It was the 13th time the young striker has found the net during the campaign and saw the Hoops confirm another well-deserved three points, maintaining confidence ahead of Wednesday’s UEFA Champions League clash against Borussia Monchengladbach.

CELTIC (4-2-3-1) Gordon; Gamboa (Griffiths 61), Simunovic, Sviatchenko, Tierney; Brown, Henderson; Forrest (Toure 84), Armstrong, (Roberts 61) Sinclair; Dembele.
Not Used: De Vries, Izaguirre, Christie, McGregor

MOTHERWELL (4-4-2) Samson; Tait, Heneghan,McManus, McMillan (Ferguson 58); Cadden, Lasley, Clay, McLean (Hastie 79); McDonald (Bowman 46), Moult.

Not Used: Brill, Ainsworth, Kennedy, Campbell


_91483463_tierney-brown


Scottish Premiership
Saturday, October 1, 2016
Dens Park, Dundee

DUNDEE…0
CELTIC…1
(Brown 47)

CAPTAIN Scott Brown scored the only goal of the game as a dominant Celtic defeated Dundee to extend their lead at the league summit to five points, with a game in hand over their rivals.The Hoops controlled the contest from start to finish at Dens Park, with Craig Gordon rarely called into serious action, but Brown’s accurate finish early in the second half was enough to secure them the spoils.

Jozo Simunovic was restored to the starting XI as Brendan Rodgers made one change to the team that faced Manchester City in Wednesday’s thrilling UEFA Champions League draw.The Croatian internationalist replaced Kolo Toure in central defence, with the experienced centre-half named among the substitutes following his sterling shift in the 3-3 stalemate with the English Premier League side.

That breathless, pulsating match had taken place less than three days ago but Celtic showed no signs of mental and physical fatigue as they quickly took the game to the home side.Scott Sinclair – who had started the match with the aim of moving within one game of Jimmy McGrory’s 81-year-old record of scoring in the opening eight league games of the season – was particularly lively in the opening minutes and he won a free-kick on the edge of the box in when he was felled by Darren O’Dea. Tom Rogic took the set-piece but his shot was deflected wide of the near post.

It was all Celtic as Sinclair continued to cause problems, with the winger bringing out the first save from Scott Bain in the eighth minute with a curling shot that was heading for the far corner.
Erik Sviatchenko looked to have a strong penalty shout waved away by referee Andrew Dallas when he was caught by Cammy Kerr – who had just been booked for a lunging challenge on Rogic – in the box following a corner.

Kerr then came to his side’s rescue, blocking Sinclair’s goal-bound shot after James Forrest’s cross had caused panic in the Dundee defence.Although Brendan Rodgers’ side continued to dominate possession, they were largely being restricted to shots from distance as the hosts threw bodies behind the ball and sat deep.

Rogic saw a curling free-kick saved by Bain and Bitton dragged a shot wide, before a ricochet near the edge of the area presented Sinclair with a golden opportunity but he failed to beat Bain from close-range. The offside flag spared his blushes, however.Brown was off target following a surging run, before some terrific tenacity from Tierney finally unlocked the Dundee rearguard on the stroke of half-time. The left-back drove past Kerr and cut the ball back for Sinclair, whose shot was pushed away by Bain.

Once the second half got underway, though, the Bhoys didn’t have long to wait to break the deadlock. The move was started and finished by the excellent Brown. Less than two minutes after the restart, the skipper found Dembele in the box. The striker weaved his way towards goal but he was crowded out at the crucial moment. Sinclair’s rebound was blocked but Brown had followed up and he swept home through a ruck of bodies.The Hoops were keen to add to their advantage and Rogic had a low shot saved by Bain, having cut across the box.

A Lovely piece of control from the Australian internationalist then saw him evade the clutches of Nicky Low and feed Forrest down the right. The wide-man’s cross was met by Sinclair, and his wayward shot was almost turned in by Dembele, though the offside flag was raised in any event.Leigh Griffiths was introduced for Rogic and the hit-man was determined to make an impact against his former employers yet the closest he came was when he found the side-netting after a thrusting run into the boxAlthough Paul Hartley’s side committed more men forward in the closing stages in search of a late leveller, they never troubled the Celtic rearguard as the champions closed out the contest with comfort, cementing their place at the top of the table going into the latest international break.

CELTIC (4-2-3-1) Gordon; Lustig, Simunovic, Sviatchenko, Tierney; Brown, Bitton; Forrest (Roberts 74), Rogic (Griffiths 65), Sinclair (Armstrong 84); Dembele
Not Used: De Vries, Toure, Gamboa, Armstrong, McGregor

DUNDEE (5-3-2) Bain; Kerr, Gomis, O’Dea, Holt, Williams (Loy 84); O’Hara, McGowan, Low (Ross 81); El Bakhtaoui (Wighton 65), Teijsse
Not Used: Mitchell, Vincent, Etxabeguren, Quigley


img_4835-1


UEFA Champions League
Celtic Park
Wednesday September 28

CELTIC…3
(Dembele 3, 46 Tierney 20)
MANCHESTER CITY…3
(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, Iheanach


hqdefault


Scottish Premiership
Celtic Park, Glasgow
Saturday, September 24, 2016

CELTIC…6
(Dembele 35, 38, Forrest 52, Griffiths 66, Sinclair 72 pen, Rogic 85)
KILMARNOCK…1
(Coulibaly 32)

SCOTT Sinclair kept up his record of scoring in every single league game this season as Celtic ran riot against Kilmarnock in Paradise to cement their position at the league summit.The winger found the net from the penalty spot late in the second-half to move within two games of equalling Jimmy McGrory’s remarkable record which has stood for over 80 years.

By that stage, the champions had already sealed the spoils against the Rugby Park side, despite going behind in the 32nd minute completely against the run of play to Souleyman Couilbaly’s speculative 40-yard shot.However, Brendan Rodgers’ side soon fought back to take the lead before half-time thanks to a quick-fire double from Moussa Dembele, which took the striker’s tally to 10 goals in 10 starts for the Bhoys.

James Forrest made it 3-1 after combining well with the impressive Rogic, before Leigh Griffiths came off the bench to inflict further punishment on Lee Clark’s side.Sinclair converted from the spot and there was still time for Rogic to squeeze a sixth goal against the demoralised visitors as Celtic head into Wednesday’s UEFA Champions League showdown against Manchester City on the back of another sparkling showing.

Brendan Rodgers made four changes to the team that eased past Alloa in the League Cup quarter-final on Wednesday night, with Dorus de Vries, Erik Sviatchenko, Nir Bitton and Sinclair all restored to the starting XI. Craig Gordon, Kolo Toure, Stuart Armstrong and Patrick Roberts all dropped to the bench, where they were joined by Griffiths as the prolific striker made a welcome return from injury.

Veteran striker Kris Boyd led the line for the visitors and he earned them the first sight of goal in the second minute, drawing a foul on the edge of the box from Jozo Simunovic, who had retained his spot in central defence following his return from injury. The Celtic wall, however, did its job from the resultant free-kick from Couilbaly.

From then on, the opening exchanges were dominated by the Hoops who launched incessant attacks against the Killie rearguard, mixing it up between going through the middle and down the flanks.Dembele was always the focal point, heading over from Kieran Tierney’s cutback and the striker suffered the same fate after dispossessing Luke Hendrie on the angle of the box.

Sinclair, chasing his sixth successive league goal, was also off target after Rogic and Demble had shots charged down, while Scott Brown and Bitton also tried their luck from long-range without seriously troubling goalkeeper Jamie MacDonald. A wonderful reverse pass from Tom Rogic then released James Forrest inside the box but he could only curl over.

The Ayrshire outfit were resorting to desperate defending to keep the rampant Bhoys at bay, exemplified by centre-half Johnathan Burn who made two last-gasp blocks in quick succession to deny Sinclair and Dembele.The tide of attacks continued to flow towards the Kilmarnock goal, with Brown shooting wide from Tierney’s precise pass. The talented teenager, making his 49th appearance for the champions, was offering his usual enterprise and was a constant threat down the left.

After another foraging run, he picked out Sinclair lurking near the edge of the area in the 23rd minute. Swivelling away sharply from his marker, the English winger fashioned a yard of space but saw his effort fly straight at MacDonald.Aside from Dean Hawkshaw firing over from Rory McKenzie’s bobbling cross, Lee Clark’s side had been completely occupied by defensive duties, but in the 32nd minute they stunned the home crowd by taking the lead in spectacular fashion.

There looked no danger whatsoever when Couilbaly received the ball 40 yards from goal in the inside left channel, but he turned and unleashed an unstoppable shot into the top corner beyond de Vries.Celtic responded like champions and a team full of belief, however, as they turned the match around within the space of six minutes.After the Hoops had moved the ball from side to side on yet another forward foray, Mikael Lustig looked up and fed an inviting ball into the box. It was met by Dembele, who made no mistake.

The next goal emanated down the opposite flank. Tierney scampered on to Brown’s pass and brilliantly picked out Dembele from the byline and the Frenchman fired another clinical finish into the top of the net.
Craig Gordon replaced de Vries at the start of the second half but all the action was down at the other end as the Hoops soon resumed their momentum from the opening period. Within seven minutes of the restart, Celtic had doubled their advantage. Forrest darted inside from the right, collected a return pass from Rogic and kept his cool to slot the ball into the corner.

That only served to add extra impetus to the home side and Rogic looked to have a good penalty shout waved away, before the Australian internationalist had an effort from 20 yards beaten away by MacDonald.
Dembele came within inches of his hat-trick just beyond the hour-mark when he rose highest to head Tierney’s delivery over the bar. In the 65th minute, Griffiths was introduced to the fray for Dembele, and, typically, it only took him a matter of minutes to make an impact.

His first two touches saw him set-up Tierney for a chance, with MacDonald making an excellent save. When the resultant corner came in, Simunovic headed the ball towards goal, and Griffiths was on hand to deliver the crucial final touch.Celtic were far from finished, though, and Griffiths won a penalty when fouled by Greg Taylor. He handed the ball to Sinclair, who found the corner of the net to keep him on track to equal McGrory’s long-standing record.

Rogic added number six in the final 10 minutes, though MacDonald will feel he should have done better from the midfielder’s low shot, as the dominant Hoops kept up the pressure on the beleaguered away side until the final whistle.

CELTIC (4-2-3-1) De Vries (Gordon 46); Lustig, Sviatchenko, Simunovic, Tierney; Brown, Bitton; Forrest, Rogic, Sinclair (Roberts 73); Dembele (Griffiths 65)
Not Used: Toure, Gamboa, Armstrong, McGregor

KILMARNOCK (4-2-3-1) MacDonald; Hendrie, Burn, S. Boyd, Taylor; McKenzie, Dicker; Tyson (Jones 53), Hawkshaw (Adams 48), Couilbaly; K. Boyd
Not Used: MacKay, Boyle, Smith, Frizzell, Morrison


cse9xhtwaaagbqx


Betfred League Cup quarter-final
Celtic Park, Glasgow
Wednesday, September 21, 2016

CELTIC…2
(Forrest 83, Dembele 90)
ALLOA…0

PERSISTENCE paid off for Celtic after late goals from James Forrest and Moussa Dembele saw them see off a spirited Alloa Athletic in a completely one-sided contest and book their spot in the League Cup semi-finals.The Hoops bombarded Jack Ross’ side from the first whistle but a mixture of superb goalkeeping from Neil Parry and some wasteful finishing saw the game remain goal-less as the game entered the final 10 minutesBut Forrest’s run and shot finally broke the deadlock in the 83rd minute, much to the relief of home crowd, and Dembele’s emphatic finish sealed the Bhoys’ place in tomorrow’s (Thursday) draw for the last-four of the competition.

Jozo Simunovic made his first Celtic start since January 23, having returned to action for the Scottish champions as a second-half substitute Sunday’s 2-2 draw away to Inverness Caley Thistle.The inclusion of the Croat was one of five changes to the team that lined up in the Highlands, with Craig Gordon returning between the sticks for the first time since the UEFA Champions League play-off away to Hapoel Be’er Sheva last month.

Kolo Toure, Stuart Armstrong and Forrest also came into the team, while Dorus De Vries, Erik Sviatchenko, Cristian Gamboa, Callum McGregor and Scott Sinclair all dropped out.Celtic could have been ahead within 30 seconds as they immediately took the game to their League One opponents. Forrest sped down the left, cut inside the box and then picked out Tom Rogic, whose shot was saved by Neil Parry.

It was one-way traffic in the opening stages as the Hoops kept pouring forward – Dembele headed Lustig’s cross over, Kieran Tierney drove straight at Parry and Rogic was unable to keep a half-volley down.Parry was called into action again in the 13th minute, reacting swiftly to make a low save after Dembele had flicked Lustig’s cut-back towards the far corner.

Former Celtic youngster Greig Spence registered the Wasps’ first shot on goal in the 15th minute with an ambitious effort from distance but Gordon was equal to it. In the 25th minute, somehow the visitors survived as Celtic had another flurry of chances. First, Parry came to his team’s rescue when he blocked Forrest’s close-range effort, before defender Andy Graham made a last-ditch block to deny Dembele after he had met Tierney’s low cutback.

The young left-back has been full of vigour from the kick off, rampaging forward at every opportunity. Just before the half-hour mark, he almost opened the scoring with a thunderous half-volley from the angle of the box that crashed off the bar.Armstrong and Rogic tried in vain from long-range but still the breakthrough remained elusive as half-time approached. And there was further frustration for the Bhoys and Forrest in particular after he spurned a golden chance.

Lustig brilliantly picked out the winger in space in the box but he could only steer his shot wide with the outside of his right foot.
For all Celtic’s incessant pressure, Gordon, who moments earlier had been booked for fouling Spence outside the area, had to make a smart save from Ben Gordon after the centre-half had connected with Waters’ free-kick just before the break, leaving the scores even at the interval.

Scott Sinclair was introduced for Roberts at the start of the second half and the 27-year-old only took three minutes to show his shooting skills.Cutting in from the left, he eventually took aim from 20 yards and his powerful shot flashed inches wide of the post. Thrusting forward from defence, Simunovic tried something similar shortly after but his attempt flew high and wide.

When the normally reliable Sinclair endured the same fate following Forrest’s cutback moments later, it looked as though it could be one of ‘those’ nights.Even when the Hoops did carve a way through the battling Alloa backline, they were coming up against a keeper in inspired form. Breaking quickly from an Alloa corner, Armstrong found Rogic, who fed the ball through for Dembele but Parry was out quickly and blocked the striker’s lofted effortSimunovic headed wide from Sinclair’s corner, Tierney dragged a shot wide and Rogic was booked for simulation when he looked to have been clipped in the box by Jim Goodwin. Armstrong and Rogic were off target from long-range and Forrest saw a low shot saved by Parry as Alloa continued their heroic defence.

Ryan Christie entered the fray for Simunovic to add further firepower but still Alloa held out, with Parry producing another superb stop at his near post from Forrest.But the winger and Celtic finally got the rewards for their utter dominance. Released down the right by Christie’s cross-field pass, Forrest drove into the box and found the corner of the net with his left foot.And there was still time for Dembele to hammer in a second goal as the clock ticked down, the French hit-man leaving Graham for dead and smashing the ball into the top corner.

CELTIC (4-3-3) Gordon; Lustig, Toure, Simunovic (Christie 70), Tierney; Armstrong, Brown, Rogic (Sviatchenko 85); Roberts (Sinclair 46), Dembele, Forrest
Not Used: De Vries, Bitton, Gamboa, Henderson

ALLOA (4-5-1) Parry; Taggart, Gordon, Graham, Waters; Cawley (Holmes 78) Goodwin (Longworth 84) Robertson, Kirkpatrick; Flannigan, Spence
Not Used: McDowall, Wilson, Hoggan, Marr, Scullio


c9602229b3e5e2e9621b2d2f782aff2e


Scottish Premiership
Tulloch Caledonian Stadium, Inverness
Sunday, September 18, 2016

INVERNESS…2
(King 27, Fisher 90)
CELTIC…2
(Rogic 16, Sinclair 33)

CELTIC dropped their first two points of the SPFL Premiership season this afternoon (Sunday) in a 2-2 draw with Inverness Caley Thistle at the Tulloch Caledonian Stadium.It was a landmark afternoon for Scott Sinclair who bagged his fifth goal in five opening league matches for the Celts, a feat last accomplished by the great Jimmy McGrory.
Tom Rogic was also on the scoresheet on an afternoon where the Hoops were left frustrated after creating numerous opportunities.

Two changes were made for the match following the defeat to Barcelona midweek as Callum McGregor and Tom Rogic replaced Nir Bitton and Kolo Toure in the starting XI. Cristian Gamboa was also in the starting line-up as the Costa Rican made his domestic debut in the Highlands.
The game had a pulsating start with the Celts racing out the traps as Sinclair forced Owain Fon-Williams into a strong stop in only the fifth minute.

The champions kept up the pressure and a lung-bursting run from Patrick Roberts a minute later was cut back to Gamboa, but his shot failed to trouble the Caley keeper.Moussa Dembele was next to try his luck from inside the area after he was picked out from the lively Roberts in the ninth minute. The striker’s shot just wide of the post, though. Doris de Vries, at the other end, had to be alert following a Greg Tansey free-kick in the 15th minute.

Inverness continued to sit deep which forced the Hoops to play patiently and wait for an opening. And on the 16th minute, the visitors broke the deadlock. Tom Rogic finished off a fine piece of play from Kieran Tierney to fire Brendan Rodgers’ men into a 1-0 lead.

The hosts, however, were quick to react. A darting run from attacker Billy King was followed by a long-range effort into the top corner to give Inverness the equaliser in the 27th minute. But Celtic’s energy and high-tempo then proved too much for Richie Foran’s men and a wonderful piece of pressing from Sinclair delivered the second. Dispossessing Gary Warren, he advanced on goal before curling his effort past Williams in the Caley net.

The 33rd-minute strike will go down in the history books as Sinclair becomes the first Celt in 80 years to score in each of the Hoops’ opening five league matches in a season.The Hoops started the second-half on the front foot as Fon-Williams had to make an excellent save from Dembele after the striker had latched on to a precise pass in the 50th minute.

And the goalkeeper made another terrific save four minutes later when Tierney got past Brad McKay, forcing the Caley stopper to tip the left-back’s thumping effort out for a corner. Fon-Williams, in the 56th minute, had to react sharply to save from a McGregor shot that came through a ruck of bodies to keep the score at 2-1.

Ten minutes later, the Bhoys fashioned another promising position on the edge of the box but Sinclair saw his effort palmed wide by the keeper. Good footwork from McGregor in the 77th minute gave the midfielder another sight of goal but again his dipping effort was pushed to safety.

In the 85th minute, Tierney couldn’t find the target from inside the box after another good run was rounded off with a powerful strike that rattled the crossbar.At the other end, substitute Aaron Doran gave the Hoops a fright with an effort from outside the area in the 89th minute to force de Vries into tipping the ball out for a corner. And from the corner, Inverness headed the equaliser. Another one of the hosts’ substitutes, Alex Fisher, burst forward and got on to the end of the set-piece to send the home fans into jubilation.

As the game entered its latter stages, Dembele came the closest to securing the three points for Celtic but Fon-Williams yet again prevented the ball going in the net.Attention now turns to Wednesday’s League Cup quarter-final against Alloa Athletic at Paradise.

CELTIC (4-2-3-1) De Vries; Gamboa (Simunovic 69), Lustig, Sviatchenko, Tierney; Brown, McGregor; Roberts (Forrest 75), Rogic (Armstrong 86), Sinclair; Dembele
Not used: Gordon, Izaguirre, Bitton, Christie

INVERNESS (4-5-1) Williams; Tremarco, Warren, Meekings, McKay; Draper, Polworth (Mulraney 69), Vigurs (Doran 59), Tansey, King, McKay; Doumbouya (Fisher 82)
Not used: Mackay, Raven, Boden, Cole,


_20

UEFA Champions League matchday one
Camp Nou, Barcelona
Tuesday September 13, 2016

BARCELONA…7
(Messi 3, 27, 60, Neymar 50, Iniesta 59, Suarez 75, 87)
CELTIC…0

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


  oldfirmlogo-jpg-pwrt3-jpg-pwrt3-jpg-pwrt3-jpg-gallery


SPFL Premiership
Celtic Park, Glasgow
Saturday September 10, 2016

CELTIC…5
(Dembele 33, 42, 83, Sinclair 61, Armstrong 89)

RANGERS…1
(Garner 45)

A MAGESTIC hat-trick from Moussa Dembele helped Celtic to a 5-1 victory in the Glasgow derby at Paradise today (Saturday) as the clinical Scottish champions went four points clear at the top of the table with a game in hand.

The young French striker was in imperious form, powering Celtic into a two-goal lead before the interval with a header and a classy right-footed effort before Joe Garner pulled one back for the visitors on the stroke of half-time.

Dembele was not finished, however, and his unstoppable run towards the penalty box on 61 minutes drew out the Rangers defence, allowing him to pick out Scott Sinclair in the box with an excellent pass which the winger dispatched with ease to put the Bhoys firmly on top.

Philippe Senderos’ dismissal for a second yellow card after a handball late on was followed swiftly by David Weir’s, with the Rangers assistant manager sent to the stands for his touchline protests, but the day finished with the sun shining on Celtic and Paradise, as Dembele bagged his hat-trick, controlling an exquisite pass from Mikael Lustig at the back post before rifling a left-footed shot past Foderingham.

Substitute Stuart Armstrong then made it a fantastic five with a patient and angled finished on the stroke of full time to cap off an outstanding afternoon for the Bhoys, who ran their Glasgow rivals ragged with a truly top-class performance.

Dembele was the only change Celtic made for the game, with the striker replacing the injured Leigh Griffiths up front. The Frenchman started well, helping the Hoops link up the play as the Bhoys took the game to the visitors down the flanks.

The first 10 minutes were frenetic, with both teams trading corners and Nir Bitton writing himself into the referee’s book with a foul on Niko Kranjcar, but Celtic soon began to assert themselves, with Tom Rogic trying his luck from distance with a first-time shot over the bar.

Dembele then made the home side’s pressure count when the Hoops won a corner on the left which Sinclair delivered with accuracy into the box.

The Frenchman made a late run towards the six-yard line to meet the cross and thundered a header straight into the net past Wes Foderingham to make it 1-0 and turn Paradise into a mass of green and white euphoria.

Mark Warburton’s team came forward after conceding in search of a reply but they offered little in way of a threat as a packed Celtic Park roared the Bhoys on after opening the scoring.

And it wasn’t long before the home support had another excellent goal to savour as Dembele doubled his tally with under five minutes left in the first-half. The forward showed incredible pace to latch on to Nir Bitton’s threaded pass before leaving Senderos tumbling with a neat turn in the box. Dembele then looked up and curled a shot beyond Foderingham with the outside of his foot to make it 2-0 to the Hoops.

Celtic were still in dreamland as half-time approached and they were caught out before the break, with Garner grabbing a goal for his side after Kenny Miller headed the ball back across box for his strike partner.

The goal spurred the visitors on after the restart and they controlled possession for large periods as the game got back underway, having changed Kranjcar with Andy Halliday at half-time. Kolo Toure was booked for a late challenge on Garner as the Ibrox side sought to expose Celtic on the break while Barrie McKay went close to finding the net with a curling shot from the left of the box.

Rogic was replaced  by Armstrong and Celtic soon extended their lead. The Bhoys held the ball patiently before Lustig unleashed Dembele from the right flank, allowing him to drive at the box and draw out the visiting defence.

His hold-up play was timed to perfection and as Senderos came out to meet him, he slipped a pin-point pass in for Sinclair, who made no mistake with a classy left-footed shot past Foderingham, which re-established Celtic’s dominance.

Brendan Rodgers brought on Patrick Roberts for the industrious James Forrest in the search of more goals, while Martyn Waghorn replaced Miller.

The champions were then forced into one final change when Scott Brown made way for Callum McGregor but the captain’s departure was followed swiftly by Senderos’, with the Rangers defender shown a second yellow card for a deliberate handball with 15 minutes left.

David Weir soon followed him after being ordered to the stands by the referee and the Ibrox side’s terrible afternoon was then compounded further when Dembele stepped up to grab his hat-trick after collecting a wonderful long ball from Lustig in the box and rattling a shot past Foderingham with his left foot.

Armstrong then sealed a five-star performance for the Celts with an angled finished after Tierney’s cut-back to make it a fantastic 5-1 to the Hoops.

The final whistle sounded shortly after but it could barely be heard through the roar of the Paradise faithful as they celebrated a resounding win over their city rivals.

CELTIC (4-2-3-1) De Vries; Lustig, Toure, Sviatchenko, Tierney; Bitton, Brown (McGregor 74); Forrest (Roberts 63), Rogic (Armstrong 54), Sinclair; Dembele.
Not used: Gordon, Ciftci, Izaguirre, Gamboa

RANGERS (4-3-3) Foderingham; Tavernier, Senderos, Kiernan (Forrester 71), Wallace; Barton, Kranjcar (Halliday 46), Windass; Garner, McKay, Miller (Waghorn 63).
Not used: Gilks, Hill, O’Halloran, Hodson


xjrmpgw


Scottish Premiership
Celtic Park, Glasgow
Saturday, August 27, 2016

CELTIC…4
(Griffiths 13, Forrest 42, Sinclair pen. 87, Rogic 90)

ABERDEEN…1
(Rooney 33)

CELTIC maintained their 100 per cent start to their league defence and moved top of the table after a 4-1 victory over last season’s runners-up Aberdeen in Paradise.

First-half goals from Leigh Griffiths and James Forrest, book-ended Adam Rooney’s equaliser for the Dons and put the Hoops in charge at the break.

The visitors continued to offer resistance without really troubling debutant Dorus de Vries until Scott Sinclair was sent tumbling in the box by Mark Reynolds in the closing minutes, earning the defender a second yellow card and his marching orders. Sinclair dispatched the resultant spot-kick confidently.

Tom Rogic ensured Brendan Rodgers’ side finished with a flourish and headed into the international break on a high by curling home a free-kick into the far corner in the dying seconds.

De Vries, signed earlier this month from Nottingham Forest, was preferred between the sticks to Craig Gordon, who was named among the substitutes. His inclusion was one of three changes made by the manager to the team that lined-up away to Hapoel Be’er Sheva four days ago as the Hoops booked their place in the UEFA Champions League group stages.

Erik Sviatchenko and Rogic, who both came on as substitutes in the Turner Stadium, were restored to the team at the expense of Saidy Janko and Callum McGregor.

De Vries could have been called into action inside the first 60 seconds as Wes Burns managed to evade the attentions of Sviatchenko but he blasted over from an acute angle. After that early scare, however, Celtic took control.

Dominating possession as the visitors deployed 11 men behind the ball, the Hoops probed patiently for openings. Griffiths had the first attempt on goal in the eighth minute, firing over from 25 yards after being fed by Scott Sinclair.

Moments later Rogic came within inches of breaking the deadlock when his powerful shot from 25 yards almost smashed the crossbar in two, with goalkeeper Joe Lewis grasping at thin air.

The bar had barely stopped rattling when the English shot-stopper was beaten again – but this time the woodwork didn’t come to his rescue.

Darting across the edge of the box, Griffiths nutmegged Kenny McLean before unleashing a ferocious strike that cannoned off the upright and into the top of the net.

As Celtic Park erupted, Griffiths ran the full length of the pitch and picked up a t-shirt that read RIP Kieran, paying tribute to young Hoops fan Kieran McDade, who tragically passed away last week at the age of 13 after collapsing during football training. Fittingly, the goal had also arrived in the 13th minute.

The Hoops continued to make all the running as Aberdeen maintained their ultra-defensive approach. Sinclair’s skill took him away from Anthony O’Connor and into the box. His cutback was met by Forrest but the winger’s shot was off target.

Aside from Burns’ early incursion, Aberdeen had been devoid as an attacking force but they restored parity with their first effort on goal. Niall McGinn reached the byline and when Kolo Toure could only block his low cross, Rooney was the first to react, steering an effort into the corner beyond de Vries.

An errant pass from de Vries nearly gave McLean a clear run on goal as the Pittodrie side suddenly had a spring in their step, but Toure recovered rapidly to force the midfielder wide and produce a brilliant tackle.

Celtic took time to rediscover their earlier fluency as the game became disjointed but a sweeping move saw them restore their lead just before the break. Rogic drove through the middle and released Forrest in the box and the winger’s exquisite first-time finish found the far corner.

And the home side could have added to their tally on the stroke of half-time as Mikael Lustig picked out Griffiths from the right, but the hit-man’s attempt fizzed wide.

Aberdeen tried to take the initiative after the restart, pushing higher up the pitch, but the first clear chance fell to Celtic. Rogic sent Tierney scampering clear down the left. The teenager picked out Sinclair, whose was heading into the net until defender Ash Taylor threw himself in the way of the ball.

To inject fresh dynamism into the Hoops’ play, Brendan Rodgers made a double change early in the second-half, sending on Patrick Roberts and Moussa Dembele for Forrest and Griffiths.

Roberts, making his first appearance since picking up an injury against FC Astana at the start of the month, was quickly involved, running at his opponents and making inroads into the Dons defence.

And his trickery down the right saw Brown presented with a chance to shoot from 20 yards. The skipper’s effort was blocked and Bitton’s curling effort on the rebound wasn’t far away.

Derek McInnes’ men, however, were continuing to offer spirited resistance and Burns and McGinn both headed over at the far post, before Graeme Shinnie blasted over from a good position in the box.

But with Aberdeen committing more men forward in search of a second leveller, Celtic killed off the contest in the closing stages as Sinclair picked himself up and scored from the spot after he had been fouled by Reynolds, who was sent off for a second bookable offence.

Rogic’s sublime free-kick compounded the away side’s misery as Celtic Park, packed to the rafters once again, celebrated a third successive league triumph.

CELTIC (4-2-3-1) De Vries; Lustig, Toure, Sviatchenko, Tierney; Brown, Bitton (McGregor 81); Forrest (Roberts 57) Rogic, Sinclair; Griffiths (Dembele 57)
Not Used: Gordon, Izaguirre, Christie, Janko

ABERDEEN (5-2-3) Lewis; Logan, O’Connor (Stockley 84), Taylor, Reynolds, Considine; McLean, Shinnie; Burns, Rooney (Storey 84), McGinn
Not Used: Alexander, Morris, Storie, McKenna, Wright


ac9035011a08510359274edda9bf135e

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

HAPOEL BE’ER SHEVA 2
(Sahar 21, Hoban 48)
CELTIC 0
(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


_49684792_stjohnstone_celtic_512

Scottish Premiership
McDiarmid Park, Perth
Saturday, August 20, 2016

ST JOHNSTONE…2
(Swanson 83, McLean 89)
CELTIC…4
(Griffiths 28, Sinclair 40, Forrest 44, 90 +2 Christie)

CELTIC struck three times in the space of 16 minutes to help put St Johnstone to the sword in Perth and make it two wins out of two in the Scottish Premiership.Birthday Bhoy Leigh Griffiths rewarded the Hoops’ early dominance by opening the scoring in the 28th minute with a rasping half-volley.Scott Sinclair made it 2-0 with a close-range finish – his third goal in four games since signing from Aston Villa – after Alan Mannus has saved from James Forrest and Griffiths.

Forrest looked to have killed off the contest just before the interval with a tremendous individual goal, capping off another noteworthy performance from the winger. There was unlikely late twist, though, as goals from Danny Swanson – from the penalty spot – and Steven MacLean provided a glimmer of hope for Tommy Wright’s side.

But substitute Ryan Christie blasted home in stoppage time to ensure Celtic had the last word of a completely one-sided match.
It was another well-deserved three points for the champions which put them top of the table and continued their impressive early-season form, with attention now turning towards Tuesday’s UEFA Champions League play-off second-leg against Hapoel Be’er Sheva.

Nir Bitton and Saidy Janko came into starting XI as Brendan Rodgers made two changes to the team that swept aside the Israeli title-winners 5-2 three days ago in Paradise.Bitton, making his first competitive start for the Hoops since the opening match of the season in against Lincoln Red Imps, replaced Callum McGregor in central midfield, who was named among the substitutes.

Mikael Lustig, meanwhile, made way for Janko at right-back, with the Swedish internationalist dropping out the squad.From the first whistle, Celtic took control, utterly dominating possession and pinning the hosts back, deep in their own half.Aside from a dangerous cutback from Kieran Tierney that almost fell for Sinclair and a Bitton shot that was charged down at the edge of the box, however, the Saints defence held firm inside the opening 10 minutes.

An incisive burst from Tom Rogic saw him slide a dangerous ball across goal but it wasn’t close enough for Griffiths to threaten as the pressure continued.In the 13th minute, Danny Swanson registered the home side’s first shot on goal when he tried his luck from distance but it was comfortable fare for Craig Gordon.Normal service soon resumed, though as O’Connell was inches away from meeting Sinclair’s free-kick, while a superb solo run from Rogic, which saw him evade two defenders, went unrewarded as the Australian was crowded out at the crucial moment.

A pinpoint corner from Griffiths picked out Sinclair lurking at the far post in the 20th minute but Richard Foster was on hand for Tommy Wright’s side to block his volley.Celtic eventually broke the home side’s resistance in the 28th minute. A promising attack looked to have fizzled for the Bhoys when Tierney had to turn back to retrieve a pass. However, the teenager showed terrific tenacity and skill to dart past his marker and fizz the ball into the box.

Brad McKay could only deflect the ball towards Griffiths and the striker took a touch before rifling home via the underside of the bar.Gordon had to make a fingertip save from a curling David Wotherspoon free-kick as the Perth side attempted to respond but the champions were now in full flow and doubled the advantage five minutes before the berak.

Rogic played in Forrest and the winger’s shot was saved by Mannus and the keeper reacted well to block Griffiths on the rebound but he could do nothing as Sinclair eventually swept the loose the ball into the corner.The floodgates had now opened at McDiarmid Park and four minutes later Forrest added number three. Driving down the right, the winger turned Paul Paton inside out before beating Mannus with measured finish.

After the Scotland internationalist had celebrated his superb strike with his team-mates in front of the Celtic fans behind the goal, he was mystifyingly booked by referee Craig Thomson, despite not entering the crowd.Paton’s frustrations got the better of him on the stroke of half-time when he sent Rogic sprawling 20 yards from goal with a rash tackle, earning him a yellow card. The resultant free-kick from Griffiths was heading for the far corner until Mannus got his hands to the ball.

The points were now effectively sealed and Rogic nearly inflicted further punishment early in the second half with a booming drive that cannoned off the bar with Mannus helpless.Both teams made a number of substitutions and the bookings count mounted up as the game looked to be petering out, though Celtic still looked the more threatening team.With seven minutes left on the clock, however, Swanson went down in the box under Liam Henderson’s challenge and Thomson pointed to the spot, with Swanson converting.

And when McLean bundled in a cross from the right six minutes later, suddenly, Celtic had to refocus for the closing seconds, but Christie’s low finish ensured there would be no late nerves for the visitors.

CELTIC (4-2-3-1) Gordon; Janko, Toure, O’Connell, Tierney; Brown, Bitton (Henderson 60); Forrest (Christie 71), Rogic, Sinclair; Griffiths (Dembele 55)
Not Used: Fasan, Izaguirre, Christie, Sviatchenko, McGregor,

ST JOHNSTONE (4-1-4-1) Mannus; Foster, McKay, Shaugnessy, Easton; Paton; Alston (Craig 54), Wotherspoon (Kane 65), Davidson, Swanson; MacLean
Not Used: Clark, Gordon, Cummins, McLaren, Comrie


b3d3421d513a994efb1d0dbdf20438c4

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

CELTIC…5
(Rogic 9, Griffiths 39, 45, Dembele 73, Brown 86)
HAPOEL BE’ER SHEVA…2
(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


tom-rogic-celtic-scotland_3761838


Scottish League Cup
Round of 16
Celtic Park
Wednesday August 10, 2016

CELTIC…5
(Rogic 20, 76 Dembele 34 [pen], 64, Sinclair 61)

MOTHERWELL…0

CELTIC cruised into the quarter-finals of the Scottish League Cup with a comfortable 5-0 win over Motherwell at Paradise. On a damp and dreary evening in Glasgow, Brendan Rodgers’ team sent the home fans away happy with a confident display full of attacking verve and creativity, as well as a string of goals.

Tom Rogic opened the scoring with a full-blooded volley 20 minutes in after excellent set-up play by Callum McGregor before Moussa Dembele doubled the advantage from the penalty spot after Scott Sinclair was pushed off the ball in the box by Richard Tait.

Sinclair curled in the third from inside the box after the restart and Dembele added the fourth, powering the ball through the Motherwell keeper’s legs after good work by Sinclair. The finishing touch was then applied by Rogic, who tapped home James Forrest’s parried shot to put the Celts comfortably through to the quarter-final draw.

The Hoops started the game in typical style, passing well and using the width of the pitch with Sinclair, one of four changes from the win over Hearts, impressing on his home debut in the opening stages.

The first-half had the traditional look of a standard league match at Paradise with Celtic controlling possession and winning corners while Motherwell’s packed defence sat back to soak up attacks. What differed from recent seasons, however, was the Hoops’ variety in their approach to breaking the deadlock, with players swapping positions freely and altering the pace of the game to open up Motherwell.

And their patience was rewarded on 20 minutes when Rogic sensationally opened the scoring with a powerful finish from close-range. The attacker was expertly picked out by a wonderfully-weighted chip from McGregor, allowing Rogic to control in the box with his right and fire home with his left emphatically into the roof of the net.

The Australian looked hungry for more and could have doubled his tally less than 10 minutes later but Craig Samson saved his curling shot before Moussa Dembele saw a rebounded effort deflected off the bar.

It wasn’t long before the second goal did come, however, as the lively Sinclair was pushed over in the box by Tait as Celtic piled forward, leaving the referee no option but to point to the spot. Up stepped Dembele to take the kick and the Frenchman made no mistake, curling a high shot into the top left corner to put the Celts totally in charge.

Rogic and Sinclair threatened to add further goals before half-time but the agile reactions of Samson kept his side in the game at the break.

Normal service resumed after the restart and Scott Brown, Forrest, Sinclair and Dembele could all have added more goals were it not for Samson’s heroics in goal.

The Bhoys were not to be denied a third, however, and their perseverance was rewarded again when Sinclair made it two goals in two games by drifting inside from the left edge of the box to place a curling, right-footed shot beyond the motionless Motherwell keeper to put the Celts on easy street on the hour.

The Steelmen retreated to their own box to limit the damage but that just invited the Hoops on and the home side were soon 4-0 up when Dembele rifled the ball through Samson’s legs after his initial shot was parried.

The comfortable cushion allowed Brendan Rodgers to hand Jamie McCart his competitive debut for the Celts as he replaced Mikael Lustig in defence before Liam Henderson came on for Brown, offering the skipper a rare rest.

Both players were only on the pitch a matter of minutes before Celtic made it a fantastic five when Forrest’s angled shot was parried into the path of Rogic, with the Australian slotting home with ease from six yards out.

Anthony Ralston’s introduction 10 minutes from time in place of Saidy Janko saw the Celts see out the game with six Youth Academy players on the field at full-time and ease into the quarter-finals of the competition.

CELTIC (4-2-3-1) Gordon; Janko (Ralston 81), Lustig (McCart 69), O’Connell, Izaguirre; McGregor, Brown (Henderson 73); Forrest, Rogic, Sinclair; Dembele.
Not used: Fasan, Ciftci, Armstrong, Christie, Ajer

MOTHERWELL (5-3-2) Samson; Tait, Heneghan, McManus, Hammell (Ainsworth 46), Chalmers; Cadden, Lasley, Clay; McDonald, Johnson.
Not used: Brill, Laing, Lucas, Thomas, Ferguson, Mackin


Hearts-vs.-Celtic


Scottish Premiership
Tynecastle, Edinburgh
Sunday, August 7, 2016

HEARTS…1
(Walker pen.36)

CELTIC…2
(Forrest 8, Sinclair 81)

SCOTT Sinclair came off the bench to score a dramatic debut winner for Celtic against Hearts as the champions made a perfect start to their title defence in a pulsating tussle at Tynecastle.

James Forrest had handed the Hoops an early lead with a precise finish from 18 yards but a contentious Jamie Walker penalty saw the home side level the match before the break.

But then the new Bhoy, who only completed his move from Aston Villa hours earlier, sent the travelling support into raptures after he converted Leigh Griffiths’ low cross with nine minutes left on the clock.

The 27-year-old was named among the substitutes, while fellow new recruit Kolo Toure made his first start for the Bhoys in the capital after making his bow as a second-half substitute in Wednesday’s dramatic 2-1 victory over FC Astana in the UEFA Champions League third qualifying round.

The inclusion of the former Liverpool, Manchester City and Arsenal defender was one of two changes to the team that prevailed against the Kazakh side in the crucial European clash.

Celtic’s last-action hero, Moussa Dembele, who won and then converted from the penalty spot in the dying seconds of the match in midweek also came into the team. Saidy Janko and the injured Patrick Roberts were the two players to drop out.

Amid the traditional raucous atmosphere at Tynecastle, it was the home side who made the initial attacking forays, with Conor Sammon a lively presence up front, forcing a corner inside the opening minute and then shooting wide from distance.

But Celtic weathered that early storm and clinically broke the deadlock with their first effort on goal. Callum McGregor was the instigator, cutting in from the right and drawing a foul on the edge of the area. With referee John Beaton playing on, Forrest collected the loose ball and curled a shot beyond Jack Hamilton into the far corner, much to the delight of wide-man and the Hoops faithful.

Another burst from Sammon almost gave Walker a sight of goal as Hearts rallied quickly but Kieran Tierney was across quickly to make a timely tackle.

Both teams were pressing all the pitch all over the pitch as the match continued to be played at a furious pace, and Sammon and Arnaud Djoum saw yellow for the hosts for late tackles on Toure and Scott Brown respectively.

Former Celt Tony Watt spurned an opportunity to level the match midway through the half when heading wide from Callum Paterson’s pinpoint cross.

Moments later, Griffiths could have doubled Celtic’s advantage after he fastened onto Craig Gordon’s long clearance but the hit-man’s first-time lob crept over.

Boosted by his goal, Forrest was playing with drive and purpose and a neat piece of skill from the winger saw him beat his man and try his luck from the angle of the box. His shot took a deflection and Hamilton had to make an impressive reflex save to tip the ball wide. From the resultant corner, Toure was close to making contact.

But in keeping with the end-to-end nature of the game, Hearts then equalised. Walker went down in the box under Tierney’s challenge and referee Beaton pointed the spot. Walker picked himself up and dispatched the penalty into the corner.

Brendan Rodgers’ side came close have restoring their lead in quick-fire fashion as Dembele was denied by Hamilton from an acute angle, with Griffiths’ rebound hacked off the line by Souttar.

Mikael Lustig looked to be denied a good penalty shout when he was hauled down in the box from a corner, before Souttar then came to his side’s rescue again as he blocked a fizzing cross from Forrest that was heading into the danger area.

At the other end, Gordon was forced into action twice by Watt as both teams went in all-square at the interval.
The Hoops burst from the blocks at the start of the second half and some strong play from Brown saw him muscle Djoum off the ball and play in Griffiths, whose right-footed effort was saved by Hamilton.

The striker also saw a curling free-kick saved by Hamilton after Dembele had been pulled back by Igor Rossi, a foul which earned the defender a booking.

Griffiths shot wide from distance, before Dembele’s strength and pace saw a fifth Hearts player enter the book in the form of Paterson. The resultant free-kick was taken from Griffiths but the Hearts wall did its job.

Aside from Sammon shooting straight at Gordon, it had been all Celtic at this stage in the contest but with a second goal elusive, Brendan Rodgers introduced Sinclair for his Hoops bow just beyond the hour mark.

In the 68th minute, a swift Celtic counter-attack saw Lustig cut the ball back for Dembele but the striker was thwarted by another last-ditch block by Souttar.

But Brendan Rodgers’ men were not to be denied as Sinclair ensured a dream debut by beating Hamilton with a deft finish from Griffiths’ low delivery, sealing a well-deserved three points for the champions.

CELTIC (4-4-2) Gordon; Lustig, Toure, O’Connell (Rogic 73) Tierney; Forrest, McGregor, Brown, Armstrong (Sinclair 61); Griffiths (Janko 83), Dembele
Not Used: Fasan, Izaguirre, Ciftci, Johansen

HEARTS (4-4-2) Hamilton; Paterson, Souttar,  Rossi, Rherras; Walker, Djoum, Cowie, Nicholson; Watt (Muirhead 61), Sammon (Buaben 78)
Not Used: Noring, Oshaniwa, Smith, Zanatta, Paton


Celtic-vs.-FC-Astana


UEFA Champions League
Third qualifying round second-leg
Celtic Park
Wednesday August 3, 2016

CELTIC…2
(Griffiths 45+2’ [Pen], Dembele 90+3 [Pen])

FC ASTANA…1
(Ibraimi 62)

Celtic win 3-2 on aggregate

CELTIC booked their place in the play-off round of the UEFA Champions League with a last gasp penalty from Moussa Dembele on a night of drama at Paradise.

After taking the lead on the stroke of half-time through Leigh Griffiths’ spot kick, Astana levelled after the hour mark when Craig Gordon was caught off his line after making a clearance, allowing Agim Ibraimi to loop a ball into the net.

With the game poised at 1-1 on the night and 2-2 on aggregate, the action spilled from end-to-end, but the decisive strike came from Dembele, who was felled in the area as he attempted to pull the trigger in injury-time. The Frenchmen showed a steely determination to dust himself off and take the spot kick, however, and his first goal for the Bhoys gave Brendan Rodgers’ team the win to take them into the final round of qualifying matches before the group stages.

Friday’s draw will determine Celtic’s opponents in the play-offs but the Hoops will go in with confidence following another action-packed evening at Paradise.

With Celtic leading the tie on aggregate through the away goals rule, there was no immediate need for the Bhoys to go in search of the opening goal but that didn’t stop them from starting on the front foot, pushing Astana back towards their own box.

The opening 20 minutes were punctuated with Celtic attacks, long balls into the box, neat passing and fouls by Astana, with Igor Shitov booked for an elbow on James Forrest – one of two Celtic changes from the first-leg  –  but there were no clear cut chances for the Bhoys.

Brendan Rodgers’ team remained resolute, however, and a clever through ball from Callum McGregor to Leigh Griffiths opened up a sight of goal for the striker, who fizzed an effort just wide of the right post.

The Hoops were then dealt a massive blow when Patrick Roberts was forced off after only 30 minutes through injury. The winger was replaced by Stefan Johansen, and the Celts went back about building their momentum again but the loss of Roberts took the sting out of the game and the home crowd.

The Bhoys finally got back on the front foot and carved out their best chance of the half when McGregor held off his marker to supply a pass to Stuart Armstrong 20 yards out, but the Astana keeper, Eric, got down well to save the midfielder’s right-footed shot.

Celtic Park was then on its feet as Kieran Tierney was brought down in the box on the stroke of half-time and a penalty was awarded to the Celts. The full-back was caught by Dimitri Shmoko just inside the area with the defender booked for the challenge, allowing Griffiths to step up the spot and smash a thunderous penalty to Eric’s left and put the Hoops 1-0 ahead on the night, with Junior Kabananga also booked for his protests after the goal.

There was no halting Celtic’s momentum after the restart with Johansen supplying a perfectly-weighted pass through the Astana defence for Griffiths, but he rattled the side netting, before Tierney and Forrest were foiled in the box as the Hoops pressed forward.

The Kazakhstani side had the ball in the back of the net from a header after a free-kick on 55 minutes but the linesman’s flag came to Celtic’s rescue, cancelling the out the goal for offside. Stanimir Stoilov’s side were almost in again shortly after from another free-kick but the Hoops defended well at the second attempt.

The chances were cause enough for Brendan Rodgers to shuffle his team, however, handing Kolo Toure his Celtic debut, with Stuart Armstrong coming off for the Ivorian defender.

Disaster then struck moments later when Astana levelled the tie on the hour mark as substitute Agim Ibraimi took advantage of a headed clearance from Gordon to loop a shot over the keeper with the Celtic keeper outside his area.

The Hoops responded with shots from Tierney and Forrest, reacting well to conceding, but the game remained precariously poised at 1-1 as it approached the last 10 minutes, with the Bhoys switching Forrest with Moussa Dembele for their final change.

The prospect of extra-time hung in the air as the game crept towards its conclusion but destiny came calling for the Bhoys when Dembele was fouled in the area on the 90-minute mark.

Tension filled the air, Igor Shitov was dismissed for the foul, but Celtic’s French striker stepped up with calmness and composure to slot home a dramatic injury-time winner for the Scottish champions and secure their place in the play-off round of the competition.

It was an incredible end to a dramatic European night at Paradise and Brendan Rodgers’ side will now discover their play-off opponents in Friday’s draw.

CELTIC (4-3-3) Gordon; Janko, Lustig, O’Connell, Tierney; McGregor, Brown, Armstrong (Toure 60); Roberts (Johansen 32), Griffiths, Forrest (Dembele 75)
Not used: Fasan, Izaguirre, Ciftci, Rogic

FC ASTANA (4-3-3) Eric; Shitov, Logvinenko, Anicic, Shomko;, Muzhikov, Canas, Beysebekov; Twumasi, Nurgaliyan (Ibraimi 57), Kabananga
Not used: Mokin, Tagybergen, Despotovic, Najaryan, Maliy, Kulbekov


CoPdtipWcAAOenX


UEFA Champions League
Third qualifying round first-leg
Astana Arena, Astana, Kazakhstan
Wednesday, July 27, 2016

FC ASTANA…1
(Logvinekno 19)

CELTIC…1
(Griffiths 78)

LEIGH Griffiths’ late strike sealed a priceless 1-1 draw for Celtic away to FC Astana in the first-leg of the UEFA Champions League third qualifying round.

The striker lashed home from the edge of the area with 12 minutes left on the clock after brilliant work from Patrick Roberts on the byline.

After making an encouraging start, Brendan Rodgers’ side had trailed to Yuri Logvinekno’s first-half header and they had Craig Gordon to thank for keeping them in contention, the Scotland internationalist making a series of superb saves, before Griffiths silenced the home crowd with a fantastic finish.

Having banked a valuable away goal, Hoops will fancy their chances of completing the job next week in Paradise, where they will be backed in their quest by a partisan crowd.

Irish youngster Eoghan O’Connell made his European bow for the Bhoys as the manager made two changes to the team that started in the previous round last week against Lincoln Red Imps. The Celtic Youth Academy graduate, who impressed in Saturday’s friendly fixture with Leicester City, replaced the injured Erik Sviatchenko.

Efe Ambrose was also restored the backline at the expense of Saidy Janko, with Mikael Lustig and Kieran Tierney filling the full-back positions. Up front, Griffiths and new signing Moussa Dembele continued their partnership.

Roared on by a vocal home crowd, Astana looked to take the initiative from the kick-off, launching a number of long balls towards the reshuffled Hoops rearguard, but they dealt with that early bombardment with relative comfort, Gordon not having a save to make in the opening 15 minutes.

When they did get on the ball, and the Hoops were having plenty of possession in the early stages, they were moving it around confidently, fashioning some promising positions around the home side’s box.

Griffiths had the first effort of the game when he dragged a shot wide from 20 yards and some incisive play from the lively Roberts gave Dembele a sight of goal, but his shot was charged down by Igor Shitov.

Everything looked to be going according to plan for the visitors but then the Kazakhstani champions broke the deadlock with their first chance of the game.

A swift break down the right for the visitors saw the ball crossed in low. Although Ambrose was positioned in the middle to intercept it, the ball zipped through his legs on the slick surface but, thankfully, striker Junior Kabananga was unable to capitalise. However the reprieve was short-lived. From the resultant corner, centre-half Yuri Logvinekno was left unmarked to head home.

Celtic sought an instant response and Dembele looked to be bearing down on goal when he fastened on to Griffiths’ flick on until he was sent tumbling to the ground by an Astana defender, though referee Paolo Mazzoleni deemed it to be a fair challenge.

Emboldened by their opening goal, the hosts were attacking with greater vigour and Gordon had to make two excellent saves to keep them at bay. Firstly, he clawed away a spinning shot from Azat Nurgaliyev, who had reacted quickest to the loose ball, and then he was well-placed to block Kabananga’s shot from an acute angle.

Roberts looked the most likely outlet for the Hoops, leaving defenders in his wake several times on foraging runs down the right, yet the majority of Celtic’s attacks were fizzling out with the final pass. Dembele did manage to get on the end of Tierney’s cross, though he couldn’t get enough purchase on the header to divert it on target.

Both sides started the second-half with plenty of enterprise, aware of the importance of the next goal. Midfielder Roger Canas had the first effort of the second half, lashing over from distance before Callum McGregor had a shot blocked at the edge of the area after another jinking run from Roberts.

Astana were looking the more menacing at this stage, however, and Gordon had to react quickly to stop a swerving shot from Patrick Twumasi and then the Hoops had a lucky escape when Nurgaliyev’s drive cannoned off the top of the bar.

Ambrose saw a header deflected wide from McGregor’s corner and Armstrong couldn’t find the target after darting in from the left as match continued to flow from end to end.

The aerial route almost proved profitable for the Kazakh side midway through the second half when Ambrose sliced Canas’ header over his own bar.

But Celtic had doggedly stayed in the tie and they came up with the crucial away goal in the 78th minute. Roberts was the provider, stealing possession on the byline and then teeing up Griffiths, who showcased his predatory instincts with a blistering strike that flashed past Nenad Eric.

Stunned, Astana threw men forward in search of another goal and Roberts came close to a quick-fire second for Celtic on the break when he curled wide.

And the Scottish champions survived a late barrage by the home side, with Canas heading over in stoppage time, to secure a battling draw that puts them in a favourable position ahead of the return match in Glasgow.

CELTIC (4-4-2) Gordon; Lustig, Ambrose, O’Connell Tierney; Roberts, Brown, McGregor (Rogic 77), Armstrong (Forrest 72); Dembele (Bitton 62), Griffiths
Not Used: Fasan, Janko, Izaguirre, Ciftci

FC ASTANA (4-2-3-1) Eric; Shitov, Logvinenko, Anicic, Shomko; Maksimovic, Canas; Beysebekov (Ibraimi 85), Nurgaliyev (Muzhikov 62), Twumasi; Kabananga (Despotovic 86)
Not Used: Mokin, Tagybergen, Najaryan, Maliy


Celtic-v-Lincoln-Red-Imps-UEFA-Champions-League-Second-Qualifying-Round-Second-Leg (2)


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

CELTIC…3
(Lustig 23, Griffiths 25, Roberts 29)

LINCOLN RED IMPS…0
(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


c0dc4c33ca


Pre-Season Friendly
Celtic Park
Saturday July 16, 2016

CELTIC…2
(McGregor 21, Christie 62

VfL WOLFSBURG…1
(Caligiuri 12)

RYAN Christie’s second-half goal gave Brendan Rodgers a winning debut at Paradise as Celtic overcame VfL Wolfsburg 2-1 in a pre-season friendly.

It was a historic day at the home of the champions as the new manager took charge of his team at Celtic Park for the first time, while the new rail seating section was also opened, making Paradise the first stadium in Britain to host such a feature.

The vocal crowd which filled the new section gave a rapturous reception to their new manager, as did the rest of the crowd before kick-off but they had to watch their side come from behind in an exciting first-half as Daniel Caligiuri’s deflected shot broke the deadlock after 11 minutes.

Callum McGregor equalised 10 minutes later with an excellent right-footed shot before second-half substitute Christie gave Celtic the lead just after the hour mark.

The match was an effective test for the full Celtic squad, who will now look to overturn a 1-0 deficit to Lincoln Red Imps when they meet in the second-leg of their UEFA Champions League second round qualifier on Wednesday.

Celtic started at a high tempo, with Stuart Armstrong at the centre of play, orchestrating a string of early moves down the left in a dominant opening 10 minutes.

However, Wolfsburg took the lead against the run of play as Caligiuri’s shot from distance took a wicked deflection off Eoghan O’Connell and past Craig Gordon in what was the German side’s first attack.

Erik Sviatchenko was also forced off early on after suffering a head knock in a clash with the Wolfsburg keeper. The Dane was down for a while as he received treatment on the pitch but he thankfully got to his feet before being replaced by Kristoffer Ajer as a precaution.

Celtic then deservedly levelled the game in emphatic fashion through McGregor, who drove his side forward on a lightening quick counter-attack. The midfielder’s attempted pass to Moussa Dembele rebounded back at his feet off the Wolfsburg defence and the 23-year-old scored a deft finish past Diego Benaglio with his right foot on 21 minutes.

Both sides continued to attack in the wake of the goal and could have added to the goal tally before the interval. A slack back-pass from Lustig to Gordon allowed Didavi to close in on the Celts goal but the keeper saved well at the attacker’s feet. Dembele then turned the Wolfsburg defence inside out before lashing a shot at Benaglio, which was parried wide.

The champions arguably had the better of the chances in the opening 45 minutes but remained level at half-time and came out for the restart with a new line-up as the manager utilised the depth of his squad.

Wolfsburg also made five changes of their own for the second-half and the Celts almost caught the German side’s new-look defence out straight from the restart as a neat interchange of play from Nadir Ciftci and Ryan Christie allowed the former to test replacement Wolfsburg keeper Koen Casteels with a stinging shot.

The Wolves regrouped and passed the ball well for the following 10 minutes but Celtic looked dangerous any time they went forward and were soon in front thanks to the nimble footwork of substitute Ryan Christie, who bounced his way between two visiting defenders into the box and despatched a low, left-footed shot into the corner to make it 2-1 just after the hour mark.

The pace of the match gradually slowed as it reached its conclusion but there was still a chance for Christie to aim for a second in the dying seconds, but Casteels was behind his curling shot, and the match finished 2-1 to the Celts.

CELTIC (4-4-2) Gordon (Fasan 46); Lustig (Fisher 46), Sviatchenko (Ajer 18 [McCart 76]), O’Connell (Ambrose 46), Tierney (Janko 46); Roberts (Rogic 46), McGregor (Forrest 46), Brown (Henderson 46), Armstrong (Allan 46); Griffiths (Christie 46), Dembele (Ciftci 46)

WOLFSBURG (4-3-3): Benaglio (Casteels 46); Seguin, Bruma (Ascues 46), Knoche (Dante 46), Schäfer (Träsch 46); Guilavogui,


Ut_HKthATH4eww8X4xMDoxOjBzMTt2bJ


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

LINCOLN RED IMPS…1
(L. Casciaro 48)

CELTIC…0

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


SEASON 2016-17 MATCH REPORTS –ABOVE..HH


72355-celtic-v-motherwell-team-news

SPFL Scottish Premiership
Celtic Park
Sunday May 15, 2016

CELTIC…7
(Tierney 21, Rogic 26, Lustig 28, Armstrong 50, Roberts 54, Christie 59, Aitchison 77)
MOTHERWELL…0

RONNY Deila was given a sensational seven-goal send-off at Paradise as his side ripped apart Motherwell on the final day of the season.The Norwegian’s side dazzled in the sunshine in front of a packed and expectant Celtic Park and gave the out-going manager a fitting goodbye as he departs the club after two years, two league titles and a League Cup.
The incredible tally of goals started with Kieran Tierney’s first strike for the club and was followed up by goals from Tom Rogic and Mikael Lustig in the first-half. Only five minutes had lapsed in the second-half when Stuart Armstrong burst the net with a sensational volley before Patrick Roberts added a fifth and Ryan Christie capped off an excellent afternoon upfront with his first goal for the Celts.

Second-half substitute Jack Aitchison, 16, then made history by becoming the club’s youngest debutant and he celebrated in style, scoring with his first touch to make it 7-0 to the Celts.The result was the perfect way for the club to celebrate their fifth SPFL Premiership title in a row and will no doubt allow the manager to return to his homeland with fond memories from his time in Glasgow.Five changes were made for the boss of the Bhoys’ final match in charge following the 2-1 loss to St Johnstone midweek. Logan Bailly, Saidy Janko, Emilio Izaguirre, Scott Allan and the suspended Leigh Griffiths all dropped out while Craig Gordon, Lustig, Tierney, Rogic and Armstrong returned.

Welcomed on to the pitch by a guard of honour from the Motherwell players, the Hoops started the match like champions and could have taken an early lead but Conor Ripley did well to deny Rogic, Armstrong and Christie inside the first 20 minutes.The Celts soon had their opener, however, after their incessant pressure and it came from the ever-industrious Tierney, who dispatched a clinical finish past Ripley after driving inside from the left flank.
It was the full-back’s first strike for the club and the significance of the goal to the youngster was clear to see as he was smothered by his delighted team-mates.

Patience and perseverance then paid off Rogic as he doubled Celtic’s lead five minutes later. Armstrong played a clever one-two with Christie to break into the box and although his curling shot came off the post with Ripley beaten, Rogic was on hand to poke the ball home and put the Celts two to the good with the Australian’s 10th goal for the club.Only 27 minutes had gone but the Hoops faithful were already in heaven, with Paradise united in the Huddle. And as the celebrations got underway Celtic won another corner which led to their third of the afternoon with Lustig ghosting in at the back post to head Armstrong’s set-piece through the legs of Gomis and put the champions firmly in control.

Motherwell ripped up their match plan at half-time and came out for the restart with two changes – Kieran Kennedy replacing Luke Watt and Joe Chalmers replacing Lionel Ainsworth.Mark McGhee’s men looked more organised for a brief spell but it took just five minutes for Celtic to reassert their dominance after the interval, with Armstrong finally finding the back of the net with a thumping volley that angled into the corner of the goal from inside the box.Motherwell’s defence were being run ragged and the goals continued to come for the Celts as Roberts added a fifth, gathering McGregor’s pass 20 yards out before shifting onto his left and curling an exquisite finish past Ripley.

Emilio Izaguirre’s introduction for Tierney as Celtic’s first sub kept the noise levels through the roof at Paradise as the home fans showed their appreciation for the Honduran left-back but they soon had even more to shout about when Christie finally scored his first goal for the club on the hour mark after brilliant hold-up play from Rogic.The Australian danced past two challenges on the edge of the box and slipped in a perfect pass for Christie, allowing the attacker to shoot first-time past Ripley with his left.

History was then made as 16-year-old Jack Aitchison came on for Rogic, making him the youngest ever Celtic debutant and he took little time in writing his name further into the history books by scoring with his first touch.The teenager darted into the box after reading a deflected pass to perfection and he showed great composure to slot the ball past Ripley to make it a magnificent 7-0 to Celtic.It was a sensational way to conclude an emotionally-charged and entertaining afternoon at Paradise and gave departing manager Ronny Deila a host of happy memories to take with him back to Norway after two years at Celtic.

CELTIC (4-2-3-1) Gordon; Lustig, Ambrose, Sviatchenko, Tierney (Izaguirre 55); McGregor, Johansen; Roberts, Rogic (Aitchison 75), Armstrong (Janko 84); Christie
Not used: Bailly, Bitton, Allan, Forrest

MOTHERWELL (4-4-2) Ripley; Watt, McManus, Hall, Watt (Kennedy 46); Cadden, Gomis, Pearson, Ainsworth (Chalmers 46); Moult, McDonald
Not used: Samson, Laing, Leitch, Thomas, Turnbull
Website man of the match: Stuart Armstrong


533x300xfull-match-st-johnstone-vs-celtic.png.pagespeed.ic.05VM0yVry0


SPFL Scottish Premiership

McDiarmid Park, Perth
Wednesday May 11, 2016
ST JOHNSTONE…2
(MacLean 55, Cummins 78)
CELTIC…1
(Griffiths 53)

LEIGH Griffiths became only the eighth Celtic player in history to hit the 40-goal barrier in a single season but his strike wasn’t enough to prevent the champions going down to a 2-1 defeat away to St Johnstone.The hit-man broke the deadlock eight minutes into the second half with a fine run and finish and it looked as though the Hoops were on course for another victory in the penultimate game of the campaign.But Steven MacLean capitalised on a defensive error from Stefan Johansen to swiftly restore parity at McDiarmid Park.

And with 12 minutes left on the clock, the home side completed the turnaround as substitute Graham Cummins found the net from close range after Efe Ambrose and Logan Bailly failed to deal with Joe Shaughnessy’s cross.But it was still the Celtic fans who were in full voice as the final whistle sounded and the players saluted the brilliant backing they had received in Perth and throughout another championship-winning season. Ryan Christie was handed his first Celtic start as Ronny Deila made seven changes to the team that defeated Aberdeen on Sunday to clinch a fifth successive title.

The 21-year-old – who signed for the club last September from Inverness Caley Thistle before returning there on loan until January – had featured four times for the Hoops but all of those appearances have come from the bench.Christie replaced Tom Rogic in the No.10 role, with Bailly, Saidy Janko, Emilio Izaguirre, Johansen and Scott Allan also coming into the starting XI.Craig Gordon, Mikael Lustig, Charlie Mulgrew, Kieran Tierney, Nir Bitton and Stuart Armstrong were the other players to drop out.

Teenager Anthony Ralston was named among the substitutes after impressing for the Development Side in recent weeks and he enjoyed a memorable evening by making his first-team debut late in the second half.While the match bogged down in the middle of the park, took until the 15th minute for Celtic to fashion the first meaningful chance when Christie picked out Griffiths from the byline but the striker’s goal-bound header was pushed away by goalkeeper Zander Clark.The Hoops, now getting to grips with the wholesale changes in personnel, seemed to be growing in ascendency at this juncture but then the home side burst into life with a flurry of chances.

First, Bailly was penalised for handling outside his area near the touchline, and when Liam Craig fired in the resultant free-kick, the loose ball broke for Brian Easton who saw his shot cleared off the line.Moments later, Easton had another sight of goal as David Wotherspoon supplied him on the edge of the box from a corner but the full-back’s effort was deflected wide.Striker Chris Kane was next to threaten as he got in behind the Celtic defence to fasten onto a through ball but his angled drive flew beyond the far post.Having survived this spell of pressure, the Bhoys replied with a curling shot from Patrick Roberts that spun inches wide and a free-kick from Griffiths which was charged down.

Izaguirre also saw a dangerous crossed punched clear by Clark but a breakthrough remained elusive before the break.Celtic upped the tempo as the second-half got underway, with Christie close to reaching Allan’s cross from the left.In the 53rd minute they opened the scoring thanks to a superb run and finish from Griffiths. Johansen supplied Scotland’s Player of the Year in the box and he evaded the clutches of several defenders, before calmly slotting the ball past Clark. However, less than two minutes later the Saints were gifted a leveller. Johansen was robbed in the box by MacLean and he chipped the ball over the stranded Bailly.

That failed to dampen the spirits of the Hoops faithful, still intent on celebrating five-in-a-row, and the visitors’ attacking quartet of Roberts, Christie, Allan and Griffiths continued to link up to good effect and search for a route through the well-organised home rearguard
Roberts and substitute Nir Bitton tried their luck from distance and Christie saw a shot saved by Clark but they couldn’t muster a second goal.And it was the Perth outfit who broke away to grab number two. Right-back Joe Shaughnessy galloped down the right wing and his swirling delivery was met by Ambrose as Bailly attempted to punch it clear.

The ball dropped kindly for Graham Cummins who applied the finish.Celtic exerted some late pressure and Christie almost grabbed scored a last-gasp equaliser after Clark had spilled McGregors shot but Tommy Wright’s men held firm to secure maximum reward.

CELTIC (4-2-3-1) Bailly; Janko (Raltson 74) Ambrose, Sviatchenko, Izaguirre; McGregor, Johansen (Bitton 66); Roberts, Christie, Allan (Rogic 80); Griffiths
Not Used: Fasan, Tierney, Armstrong, Forrest

ST JOHNSTONE (4-4-2) Clark; Shaughnessy, Anderson, Scobbie, Easton; Wotherspoon, Brown, Craig, Swanson (Doyle 90); Kane (Cummins 59), MacLean
Not Used: Mannus, Sutton, Hurst, McCawl, Krachunov


6-Prediksi-Skor-Heart-of-Midlothian-vs-Celtic-29-Oktober-2015


Scottish Premiership
Tynecastle, Edinburgh
Saturday, 30 th April, 2016

HEARTS…1
(Dauda 57)

CELTIC…3
(Kazim-Richards 17, Roberts 67, Griffiths 85)

CELTIC moved within touching distance of a historic fifth successive league title after second-half goals from Leigh Griffiths and Patrick Roberts sealed a gutsy 3-1 win over Hearts at Tynecastle. The result moved the Hoops 12 points clear of second-placed Aberdeen, who must harvest a victory over Motherwell later today to deny Ronny Deila’s side the championship, though the Bhoys’ vastly superior goal difference means they already have one hand on the trophy.Colin Kazim-Richards deservedly opened the scoring for the visitors after neat touch and finish from Mikael Lustig’s cross.Celtic had been the better side in the first-half but the hosts rallied after the restart and equalised through Abiola Dauda’s run and finish.

Patrick Roberts showed composure to put the Hoops back in front after charging down a defensive clearance and, fittingly, it was Griffiths who secured the points with his 39th goal of a sensational season, the hit-man rifling home at the near post after some tenacious closing down.The final was the spark of celebrations in front of the away end as the manager, backroom staff and the players saluted the jubilant Hoops faithful. The manager had made two changes to the team that were held by Ross County last week, with Efe Ambrose and Callum McGregor coming into the team at the expense of Charlie Mulgrew and Tom Rogic. The former missed out through injury, while the Australian internationalist was named among the substitutes.

Space was a premium in the opening exchanges as both teams fought for supremacy and played at a furious tempo amid a raucous atmosphere.Gradually, Celtic began to string some passes together and carve a path through the sea of maroon and white. A neat interchange of passes in the 12th minute allowed Patrick Roberts to cut into the box from the right. His initial was shot was saved by Neil Alexander and the rebound was converted by McGregor but the offside flag cut short the celebrations.Moments later, Roberts found himself in the clear after being found by Nir Bitton. Again, Alexander came to his side’s rescue with a low save and the keeper reacted swiftly to tip over Leigh Griffiths’ rebound.An enterprising burst down he left from Kieran Tierney, in which he stormed clear of two Hearts players, fashioned the next opening for the champions but Griffiths was unable to direct his header on target.

Prince Buaben saw yellow for catching Scott Brown’s head with arm and Roberts saw claims for a foul on him by Blazej Augustyn on the edge of the box waved away as the home side struggled to stem the tide.Eventually their resistance was broken. Roberts and McGregor worked the ball wide to the overlapping Mikael Lustig and his deep cross was met by Kazim-Richards, who chested the ball down and lashed past Alexander.That stung Hearts into offensive action and, after Arnaud Djoum had cut the ball back from the byline, Craig Gordon has to make a superb double save from Jamie Walker’s shot and the rebound from Juanma, through the striker was flagged for offside in any event.

Although Celtic remained largely in control, aside from several corners, they weren’t crafting as many clear openings, with the match returning to its initial scrappy phase.Griffiths, however, was presented with a golden opportunity to double the advantage around five minutes before the interval. After Celtic had partially cleared a Hearts corner, Bitton blocked a shot and Griffiths took the loose ball in his stride on the halfway line and bore down on Alexander, but his low attempt took a touch off the keeper and trundled inches wide.Hearts made a double change at the break in a bid to get back into match, with Callum Paterson and Abiola Dauda replacing Augustyn and Don Cowie, and they started the second half with greater purpose.

Within three minutes of the restart, Djoum drove through the middle and his deflected drive forced Gordon into a terrific reaction save.After Griffiths had dragged a shot off target at the other end, Robbie Neilson’s side threatened again from a corner, with Brown eventually getting the ball clear. Dauda then sent a half-volley narrowly wide. However, the substitute wasn’t to be denied and he levelled the match in the 57th minute. Showing strength and pace, he ploughed a path through the middle of Celtic rearguard, before flashing a low shot beyond Gordon.The champions responded with a Griffiths free-kick that was charged down by the wall and a looping header from Bitton that landed on the top of the net following a corner.

Midway through the half, they dug deep to restore their lead. Roberts charged down a Hearts clearance before running through on goal and coolly rolling the ball under Alexander.Determined not to lose their advantage slip again, Celtic defended with resilience as the hosts’ attacking forays gradually petered out, and Griffiths’ ensured a nerve-free finish to proceedings, firing home at the near post after blocking another poor Hearts clearance.

CELTIC (4-3-3) Gordon; Lustig, Ambrose, Sviatchenko, Tierney; McGregor, Brown (Commons 90+3) Bitton; Roberts (Rogic 69), Griffiths (Griffiths 87), Kazim-Richards Not Used: Bailly, Christie, Izaguirre, Janko

HEARTS (4-1-4-1) Alexander; Souttar, Ozturk, Augustyn (Paterson 46), Oshaniwa; Kitchen; Cowie (Dauda 46), Bauben (Nicholson 77), Djoum, Walker; Juanma Not Used: Hamilton, Pallardo, Reilly, McGhee


CelticvRossCounty-370x208


SPFL Scottish Premiership
Celtic Park, Glasgow
Sunday, April 24, 2016

CELTIC…1
(Griffiths 23)
ROSS COUNTY…1
(Murdoch 64)

LEIGH Griffiths’ 38th goal of the season was only enough to secure Celtic a share of the spoils against Ross County in Paradise, though the champions did extend their lead in title race to nine points with four games remaining.The striker put the Hoops in front midway through the first-half with a fantastic strike from 18 yards but Ronny Deila’s side never built on that advantage and the visitors drew level in the second-half through Stewart Murdoch’s blistering shot.The Bhoys had plenty of possession but they couldn’t fashion a winner in the closing stages as the game ended in a frustrating stalemate.

Tom Rogic came into the starting XI to make his 50th appearance for the club as the Hoops made three changes for the visit of the Highlanders. Erik Sviatchenko and Colin Kazim-Richards were also restored to the side, with Stefan Johansen, Dedryck Boyata and Gary Mackay-Steven dropping out.And it didn’t take long for Rogic to provide some creative spark, driving towards the edge of the box and teeing-up Griffiths who curled over.Cutting inside off the right flank, Patrick Roberts was also lively in the opening exchanges and he inadvertently forced Scott Fox into action for the first time when his cutback cannoned off Ian McShane’s foot towards goal, but the County keeper reacted quickly to save his team-mate’s blushes.

Roberts’ trickery and inventiveness continued to look Celtic’s most likely outlet against the well-organised visitors who were defending in depth and in numbers, but clear-cut chances were proving hard to come by.On the opposite side of the pitch, Kieran Tierney’s drive and determination almost fashioned an opening in the 21st minute. Bursting forward with purpose, he found Griffiths inside the box but the striker’s cross was knocked behind by Paul Quinn.Just as frustration was beginning to grow among the home support, a moment of magic from Griffiths broke the deadlock. Kazim-Richards picked out the hit-man lurking near the edge of area and he worked the ball on to his weaker right-foot before lashing an unstoppable shot into top corner.

Despite lining up with two frontmen in Liam Boyce and Alex Schalk, County had failed to threaten the Celtic goal until Boyce knocked McShane’s free-kick wide at the near post.And they remained largely preoccupied with defensive duties as the Hoops, boosted by making the breakthrough, sought to add to their tally. Rogic saw an ambitious long-range effort saved by Fox and the Australian was then unable to capitalise on an excellent opening, volleying over from close-range after wonderful wing-play from Roberts.Fox made another smart save from Bitton’s dipping shot in the 34th minute, before a set-piece gave the visitors another glimmer of goal. Although Celtic dealt with the initial ball into the box, when it was knocked back into the area, Quinn was in acres of space but Craig Gordon was alert to avert the danger.

County were now enjoying their best spell of the game and McShane brought out another save from Celtic’s No.1 with a drive from distance, while Boyce should have probably found the net from Jonathan Franks’ cross instead of heading straight at Gordon.Back came the Bhoys and Kazim-Richards drifted in from the left and fired over from 20 yards as the hosts went in at the break holding a narrow advantage.Jim McIntyre’s side served another reminder of how slender that lead remained at the start of second half as Michael Gardyne blazed over at the far post after Boyce had flicked on Franks’ cross.Celtic responded with a curling shot from Roberts that flew over and a dipping free-kick from Griffiths that Fox could only push wide.

After a Hoops attack had broken down on the edge of the box, County broke at speed and Schalk found himself with only Charlie Mulgrew between him and a clear shot at Gordon. The Dutchman eventually pulled the trigger but couldn’t keep his shot down.That stung a response from the home side as Griffiths and Roberts saw low efforts saved by Fox but it was the Staggies would grab the next goal. Celtic could only partially clear McShane’s corner and Murdoch lashed a venomous 30-yard shot beyond Gordon, whose complaints of an offside flag proved in vain.As the hosts sought to restore their advantage, a driving run from Roberts gave Bitton a sight of goal but the midfielder couldn’t keep his attempt down, and Kazim-Richards flashed a shot agonisingly wide following good play from Tierney.Substitutes Callum McGregor and Kris Commons brought out saves from Fox, and Griffiths had a shot blocked by Chris Robertson, as Celtic applied some late pressure but a winner was not forthcoming.

CELTIC (4-2-3-1) Gordon; Lustig, Sviatchenko, Mulgrew (Ambrose 90), Tierney; Brown, Bitton; Roberts, Rogic (McGregor 64), Kazim-Richards (Commons 81); GriffithsNot Used: Bailly, Armstrong, Christie, Mackay-Steven

ROSS COUNTY (3-5-2) Fox; Fraser, Quinn, Robertson; Franks (De Vita 78), Irvine, Murdoch, McShane, Gardyne; Boyce (Goodwillie 60), Schalk (Graham 90 +2)Not Used: Woods, Boyd, Dingwall, McLaughlin


hqdefault

Scottish Cup semi-final
Hampden Park, Glasgow
Sunday, April 17, 2016

CELTIC…2
(Sviatchenko 50, Rogic 106)
RANGERS…2
(Miller 16, McKay 96)
[Penalties: Celtic 4 – 5 Rangers]

THE lottery of penalty-kicks saw Celtic bow out of the Scottish Cup today to Rangers at the penultimate hurdle. After falling behind early in the first-half of normal time to Kenny Miller’s accurate finish, the Hoops battled back and drew level through Erik Sviatchenko after a blistering start to the second-half.

The champions persevered as the game wore on and won a late chance to seal their place in the final with a header from Nir Bitton, but extra-time beckoned and the Bhoys found themselves behind again after Barrie McKay sent a powerful long-range strike past Craig Gordon in the first-half of the extra 30 minutes.

The Hoops showed true fighting spirit, however, and got back into the game at 2-2 through substitute Tom Rogic’s fine finish in the box before Leigh Griffiths clipped the crossbar with a stunning free-kick.Normal time and extra-time was not enough to decide the game, however, and the match went to penalties where the Ibrox side triumphed 5-4 after Rogic sent his spot kick over.

It was a heartbreaking end to a largely frustrating game for the Celts, who will now look to wrap up the SPFL Premiership for the fifth time in a row as quickly as possible.
Celtic made just one change to the team from the side that beat Motherwell 2-1 in the league last weekend, with Gary Mackay-Steven returning to the starting XI in place of Colin Kazim-Richards. The former Dundee United winger had missed the victory over the Steelmen but was restored to the left side of attack in support of striker Leigh Griffiths.

The match saw a Hampden debut for Patrick Roberts as well as a landmark 100th appearance for Craig Gordon in the Celtic goal, who was called into action early on to stop Kenny Miller opening the scoring as the Ibrox side started the match on the front foot.
The striker gathered a ball over the top of the Hoops defence, took a touch and shot at goal but Gordon had narrowed the angle and did well to block the effort after some early pressure from Rangers.

Ronny Deila’s side retaliated almost instantly with shots from Scott Brown and Leigh Griffiths as the game spilled from end to end inside a fraught opening 10 minutes but the Bhoys soon found themselves 1-0 down, as Miller capitalised on a deflected pass into the Celtic box from a free-kick.Brown had done well to get a foot on the low delivery into the area but his efforts only directed the ball in the direction of Miller who shot from right to left past Gordon to put his side in front.

A rasping shot from Kieran Tierney from distance marked Celtic’s reply but the full-back’s effort fizzed past Wes Foderingham’s post. The Hoops were then forced into an early change as Erik Sviatchenko replaced Dedryck Boyata on 25 minutes.Tierney then made an instrumental interception in the box to stop Miller pulling the trigger again before Sviatchenko was cautioned for his first challenge, catching Andy Halliday outside the box.

The momentum then suddenly shifted in Celtic’s favour when Griffiths cracked the post with a shot, which feel kindly to Patrick Roberts with the goal gaping but the teenager could only find the side netting with his shot.The Bhoys pressed on, however, with Bitton forcing another save out of Foderingham, which the keeper spilled but gathered in time to stop Griffiths poking the ball home.

As half-time approached the game settled down but the Hoops were still forced to do much of the defending as their deep defensive line invited the Ibrox side forward but the score remained 1-0 at the interval.After a lacklustre first-half Celtic emerged for the start of second period a changed team. The personnel were the same but the drive, intensity and most importantly accuracy with the ball was drastically improved, and it didn’t take long for the Bhoys draw themselves level through Sviatchenko.

A long range free-kick from Griffiths sparked a string of corners and the Celts finally made the pressure count at the fourth attempt when the Danish defender out-jumped his marker to head beyond Foderingham and tie the game five minutes after the restart.
Mark Warburton’s side responded with a prolonged period of possession but a blocked free-kick from James Tavernier was the best of their chances as the game passed the hour mark.

The Ibrox outfit remained largely on top in terms of possession, with Celtic playing on the break as their city rivals committed men forward. Callum McGregor then replaced Mackay-Steven with 20 minutes left as the Bhoys sought to get back on the ball but they remained pinned back as the game crept towards its conclusion.The Celts got a crucial sight of goal in the closing stages when Griffiths burst forward and cut-back for McGregor but the midfielder’s effort was blocked and Charlie Mulgrew headed over from the resultant corner. Stefan Johansen’s match then came to an end as he was replaced by Rogic with extra time looming.

Celtic had a late chance to grab the winner when Tavernier was booked for a foul on Roberts, allowing Bitton to get a head on goal from the following free-kick but his effort arched agonisingly over the bar and out of play before the full-time whistle heralded extra time.
The Hoops started the first-half of the extra 30 minutes well but couldn’t force Foderingham into a save and they soon found themselves 2-1 down when McKay found the net from distance with a stunning strike that Gordon could do little to stop.

Griffiths responded with a curling free-kick that went past the post before Sviatchenko forced another fine save out of Foderingham but the Celts finished the half behind.
It took only seconds of the restart, however, for the champions to draw level again, this time through Rogic, who supplied a sublime finish to Kieran Tierney’s cut-back to make it 2-2. The Australian then almost put the Hoops in front when he was picked out in the box but Foderingham did well to block his clipped shot at goal.With one minute left on the clock Griffiths then curled a brilliant free-kick off the cross bar, which hit off Foderingham’s back before rolling out of play just past the post before the final whistle blew signalling a penalty shoot out to decide the game.

After both teams missed kicks in the opening five, the shoot-out went to sudden death and Rogic’s wayward shot from the spot spelt the end of a disappointing afternoon for the Scottish champions.

CELTIC (4-2-3-1) Gordon; Lustig, Boyata (Sviatchenko 26), Mulgrew, Tierney; Brown, Bitton; Roberts, Johansen (Rogic 88), Mackay-Steven (McGregor 71); Griffiths. Not used: Bailly, Kazim-Richards, Armstrong, Commons,

RANGERS (4-3-3) Foderingham; Tavernier, Kiernan (Zelalem 88), Wilson, Wallace; Halliday, Ball Holt; Shiels (Law 66), Miller (Clark 91), McKay.
Not used: Bell, Burt


motherwell_vs_celtic

SAT, 09 APR 2016 SCOTTISH PREMIERSHIP
Motherwell 1-2 Celtic
McDonald (60′ minutes)
Griffiths (44′ minutes, 75′ minutes)

Two Leigh Griffiths goals in a madcap win over Motherwell moved defending champions Celtic eight points clear at the top of the Scottish Premiership.Celtic had eight attempts on goal in the first half – including a missed Griffiths penalty – before the striker made amends just before the break.

Motherwell had their goalkeeper Connor Ripley to thank for keeping them in it before Scott McDonald equalised.But Griffiths struck again, the ball squirming through Ripley’s legs.It was a bitter end to what had been a terrific performance by the Englishman.Celtic lorded it early on. The irony was that of all their pot-shots at goal the one shot that did not trouble Ripley was that missed Griffiths penalty.Patrick Roberts, excellent in the first half, had the first of those chances, Nir Bitton the second and Griffiths the third. All of them were beaten away by Ripley.

Midway through the half, Roberts’ quick feet bamboozled Morgaro Gomis and the penalty was won – and then missed. Griffiths pulled his effort wide of Ripley’s left-hand post. Bizarrely for a man who has scored buckets of goals this season, it was Griffiths’ fourth miss from the penalty spot since August.Leigh Griffiths misses a penalty for Celtic against Motherwell Griffiths fired his spot-kick attempt past the postRipley continued dealing with the Celtic barrage. Lovely build-up play put Colin Kazim-Richards through on goal but Ripley denied him, this time with his feet.

Motherwell, in that opening half, had none of the edge that had helped them win five on the spin. Their use of the ball was awful, their composure suffering some kind of peculiar bypass.They continued to invite Celtic on to them. Kieran Tierney and Roberts, again, forced saves from Ripley. True, many of these blocks from the keeper were from attempts delivered straight down his throat, but he had still made seven saves by the time the game was 40 minutes old.

A minute before the break, he was beaten at last, Tierney delivering from the left and Griffiths sweeping it home from close range. One goal was the least that their pressure deserved, but even that slender margin was to be wiped out soon enough.Motherwell turned up at the party in the second half. At last, they had a bit of attitude and accuracy going forward.

McDonald had the ball in the Celtic net 10 minutes into the half but it was disallowed, controversially, for offside. Celtic now became the nervy team. Dedryck Boyata was an unsettling presence at the heart of their defence as Motherwell’s confidence grew.The equaliser came on the hour when Chris Cadden got the better of Tierney on the left and pulled it back for Celtic’s old boy, McDonald, to thump home, aided by a slight deflection off Boyata’s knee. It was an emphatic finish from the Australian – one that utterly stunned the visitors.

Scott McDonald celebrates after scoring for Motherwell against Celtic McDonald scored against his former club Celtic dug it out, though. With 15 minutes left – and just after an angry exchange that could have seen Kazim-Richards sent off – Griffiths struck again, his snapshot going through Ripley’s legs.A frustrated figure for much of the afternoon, the irrepressible Celtic striker found a way of getting the job done – again


3455-celtic-v-hearts-team-news

Scottish Premiership
Celtic Park, Glasgow
Saturday, April 2, 2016

CELTIC…3
(Mackay-Steven 15, Roberts 35, 49)
HEARTS…1
(Walker 5)

PATRICK Roberts scored his first two goals in senior football as Celtic fought back to beat Hearts and move seven points ahead in the title race.Robbie Neilson’s side had opened the scoring inside the first five minutes through Jamie Walker but the Hoops, helped by the precocious talents of Roberts, turned the match around.The 19-year-old was involved in Gary Mackay-Steven equaliser when his cross was only cleared as far as the winger, who lashed beyond Neil Alexander.

He then showed wonderful coolness and technical ability after being played in by Tom Rogic and chipping the ball over the advancing Alexander.Four minutes into the second half, the English youngster bagged his brace. After being found by Stefan Johansen on the right, he confidently advanced into the box before curling the ball inside the far post.After that, there was no way back for a dogged Hearts team, as Ronny Deila’s side clinched a vital victory in the fight for the championship.

After coming off the bench to score a wonderful winner in the last match away to Kilmarnock, Rogic was promoted to the starting XI as the manager made five changes to the team that lined up at Rugby Park, with Dedryck Boyata, Stefan Johansen, Roberts and Mackay-Steven also coming into the side. Charlie Mulgrew, Nir Bitton, Callum McGregor, Kris Commons and Colin Kazim-Richards were the players to drop out.

There was little fluency in the opening exchanges as both teams fought for supremacy, but the visitors made an early breakthrough with the first effort of the match. Juanma held off the attentions of Erik Sviatchenko and Walker pounced on the loose ball, rifling an unstoppable shot into the top corner.Celtic responded with a fizzing free-kick from Griffiths that forced Alexander into a one-handed save. From the resultant corner, the Hoops levelled the match. The Tynecastle side could only partially clear the set-piece and eventually the ball dropped for Mackay-Steven on the edge of the area. He took aim and clinically found the far corner to continue his fine scoring run.

As a compelling contest continued to swing from end-to-end, Griffiths was played in by Rogic’s precise pass but was denied by the legs of Alexander. Roberts also missed his kick when in the clear from Gordon’s goal-kick, though a questionable offside flag saved his blushes.It was then Hearts’ turn to make a sortie forward as Arnaud Djoum dragged a shot wide and Alim Ozturk curled a free-kick off the top of the bar.In the 27th minute, the lively Roberts looked to have a good penalty claim turned away as Igor Rossi impeded him as he weaved his way into the box, before the away side threatened through Djoum and Juanma.

A moment of pure class saw the hosts move in front. Rogic did brilliantly to fashion some space down the right despite the close attentions of several opponents and then pick out the run of Roberts. Bearing down on Alexander, the teenager showed remarkable composure to send an exquisite chip over the goalkeeper and claim his first goal in senior football.Commitment had been in abundant from both teams but tempers threatened to boil over as half-time approached after Juwon Oshaniwa recklessly challenged Rogic in the air. The Nigerian was cautioned for the offence, while Griffiths and Prince Buaben were booked in the aftermath. Rogic, unfortunately, had to leave the fray with concussion, with Bitton taking his place.

Griffiths tested Alexander with two free-kicks before the break and Roberts was crowded out in the box before he could pull the trigger as the home side finished the half on top. They continued where they left off after the restart, with Boyata and Griffiths almost capitalising from Roberts’ corner.In the 49th minute, Roberts broke the capital club’s resistance again. Johansen did well to steer a pass wide to the winger who strode into the box and beat Alexander with a precise finish.

Griffiths and Roberts both tried their luck from distance and substitute McGregor had a powerful shot saved by Alexander as Celtic looked to stamp home their supremacy, while Robbie Neilson’s side struggled to find a way back into the match.And aside from substitute Abiola Dauda’s late header, which was brilliantly saved by Gordon, the Celtic rearguard comfortably dealt with the visitors late attacking flurries.In the dying seconds, Oshaniwa saw red after picking up second booking for a foul on Bitton as Hearts ended the match in frustration and Celtic celebrated an important three points.

CELTIC (4-2-3-1) Gordon; Lustig, Sviatchenko, Boyata, Tierney; Brown, Johansen; Roberts, Rogic (Bitton 45), Mackay-Steven (McGregor 68); Griffiths (Kazim-Richards 78)
Not Used: Fasan, Ambrose, Commons, Forrest

HEARTS (4-1-3-2) Alexander; Souttar, Ozturk, Rossi (Smith 65), Oshaniwa; Kitchen; Nicholson, Bauben (Dauda 81) Djoum; Walker (Reilly 65), Juanma
Not Used: Hamilton, Augustyn, Pallardo, McGhee


kilmarnockvceltic

SPFL Premiership
Rugby Park, Kilmarnock
Saturday, March 19, 2016

KILMARNOCK…0

CELTIC…1
(Rogic 90)

TOM Rogic’s sensational last-gasp wonder strike gave Celtic a vital one-nil win over Kilmarnock at Rugby Park today to send the champions four points clear at the top of the league.

With just seconds left on the clock and a 0-0 draw looking the most likely outcome, the second-half sub took aim from 25 yards and lashed an unstoppable angled drive into the net past the helpless Jamie MacDonald to spark scenes of wild celebration in the stand behind the goal, packed with Hoops fans, and a post-match Ronny roar from the manager of the champions.

It was an incredible finish to secure a massive three points in the title race and gave the vocal and strong travelling support a moment to cherish as they headed back up the M77.

Celtic made just one change for the game following last week’s 2-1 win over Partick Thistle, with Colin Kazim-Richards brought in to replace Gary Mackay-Steven on the left of attack as Ronny Deila stuck with the 4-3-3 formation utilised by the champions in recent weeks.

The powerful striker used his strength to work his way into the match early on as the game spilled from end to end with both keepers called into action inside the opening five minutes to make good stops.

Celtic were on top in terms of possession and had the Killie defence on the back foot with Kris Commons and Leigh Griffiths looking lively but the home team were also dangerous on the break as the game fell into a familiar pattern.

Commons’ curling shot from outside the box marked the best chance for the Bhoys in the opening half hour but Jamie McDonald had his angles right to make the save. Kallum Higginbotham was meanwhile Kilie’s most potent threat but the Bhoys defence did well to keep him at bay for the most part after his early involvement had won a string of corners for the home team.

The game fell into a lull midway through the half with Celtic still in charge of traffic but struggling to find gaps to exploit in the Kilmarnock defence. The Hoops had Lee Clark’s side packed in to their own half but were almost caught out by the home side when they were found guilty of overplaying in Killie territory.

With the Bhoys in possession looking for an opening, Scott Brown slipped, allowing Higginbotham to dart free with the ball and play in Kris Boyd but Craig Gordon came confidently off his line to slide in and clear the danger.

The Celts took the warning on board and pushed on with more intent but their momentum was disrupted when they were forced into a change before half-time as Kieran Tierney exited the action to be replaced by Dedryck Boyata after the Hoops youngster failed to recover from a knock he suffered in a strong challenge on 25 minutes.

Ronny Deila’s side persevered until the break but could find the opener and the teams went in level.

A second Celtic change followed the interval as Patrick Roberts replaced Kris Commons and the Celts went for a flat 4-4-2.

The change in shape gave the Bhoys a more direct approach and they peppered MacDonald’s goal with shots inside the opening five minutes of the restart but the home team stood strong.

Celtic had all of the possession but were forced to play in front of Killie as they closed ranks to stop the Celts penetrating their backline. Mikael Lustig and Charlie Mulgrew continued to provide crosses from the flanks, with Roberts also dangerous on the periphery of the box but the Hoops were lacking a killer touch.

Not even Sviatchenko’s bulleted header on 65 minutes could find a way into the net when Julien Faubert blocked the shot on the post but the Hoops remained resolute to find the opening goal.

Killie were growing in confidence, however, content to sit back with the fresh legs of second-half substitute Tope Obadeyi remaining a potent threat to the Celts as the clock ticked down.

And just as the game looked set to be end in a stalemate the Bhoys made then final throw of the dice by replacing Nir Bitton with Tom Rogic with 10 minutes left, and it was the Australian attacker who had the vital say in the game, smashing a sensational, thunderous shot past MacDonald with just seconds left to send the travelling support into euphoria.

The result gave the champions the four point cushion they so desperately wanted over second-placed Aberdeen ahead of kick-off and sent the Celtic support back up the M77 on top of the world.

CELTIC (4-3-3) Gordon; Lustig, Sviatchenko, Mulgrew, Tierney (Boyata 41); McGregor, Brown, Bitton (Rogic 78); Commons (Roberts 46), Griffiths, Kazim-Richards

Not used: Fasan, Johansen, Armstrong, Forrest,

KILMARNOCK (4-2-3-1) MacDonald; O’Hara, Ashcroft, Balatoni, Hodson; Faubert, Dicker; McKenzie (Splaine 54), Higginbotham, Kiltie; Boyd (Obadeyi 70)

Not used: Brennan, Westlake, Slater, McHattie, Frizzell


1acb7ac5ca8910057e29875d4657f785

SPFL Premiership
Firhill Stadium, Partick
Saturday, March 12, 2016

PARTICK THISTLE…1
(Welsh 85)
CELTIC…2
(Griffiths 45, McGregor 53)

GOALS either side of half-time ensured Celtic emerged victorious from a closely-fought Glasgow derby at Firhill to go four points clear at the top of the league.It took the full 45 minutes of the first-half for the champions to find the opener against an organised Jags side but patience finally paid off when Leigh Griffiths tucked a left-footed shot beyond Tomas Cerny on the stretch to break the deadlock.Callum McGregor’s composed finish less than 10 minutes after the restart gave the Celts a commanding lead and the goal proved pivotal as Thistle were awarded a late penalty which Sean Welsh scored to bring the game to a tense climax.

The goal spurred the home team on in the dying minutes but the champions held firm to claim a crucial three points and stretch their lead at the top of the Premiership ahead of Aberdeen’s game against Kilmarnock later in the afternoon.Ronny Deila made just one change to his team following last Sunday’s Scottish Cup win over Morton, with Nir Bitton replacing Stefan Johansen after the Norwegian midfielder was forced off at half-time in last week’s tie after taking a knock on his ankle.The switch allowed Bitton to make his 100th appearance for the Bhoys, lining up in midfield alongside Scott Brown and Callum McGregor as the champions stuck with a 4-3-3 formation.

After a positive start from the home team, Celtic eventually settled and bossed the opening stages of the game. Cerny had to get down well to save from Leigh Griffiths’ stooping header before Gary Mackay-Steven poked a shot narrowly wide as the Celts sought an early opener.The Hoops enjoyed most of the possession but struggled to create openings down the flanks as Thistle pushed the Bhoys infield and flooded the centre of the park with bodies. The Jags first real chance came from Liam Lindsay nearly 20 minutes in but Craig Gordon was equal to the defender’s angled drive.

Celtic were beginning to find their stride as Thistle briefly lost some composure, with David Amoo and Gary Miller both booked in quick succession for fouls on the impressive Kieran Tierney and Mackay-Steven respectively.Kris Doolan’s twisting run and shot then brought out another good stop from Gordon after Charlie Mulgrew was beaten in the box as the game spilled from end to end.Chances continued to fall Celtic’s way as half-time drew closer and it looked as though the teams would go in level but the deadlock was finally broken on the 45 minute mark by the Hoops leading scorer Griffiths, sending the away fans wild.

Mackay-Steven squeezed in a cross from the left which Griffiths did well to shift his feet and control before the forward lashed a left-footed shot into the corner of the net to put the champions deservedly in front at the break.The Celts started the second-half the way they finished the first, pressing high and doing well to spread the play through Thistle’s crowded midfield, but they needed an early goal to properly establish command of the game and that came just inside 10 minutes of the restart through McGregor.

Mackay-Steven’s interception sparked the move forward and the winger did well to hold on to the ball and drag the home defence left, opening up space for McGregor to run into space on the right. Mackay-Steven then slipped a pinpoint pass to his team-mate, who showed great composure to feint left before shifting the ball onto his right and slotting powerfully past Cerny.Celtic’s lead was now commanding and they could afford a moment’s respite to plan their next move. Thistle rolled the dice by replacing striker Doolan with Mathias Pogba as they sought a way back into the game, but it was the Hoops who stayed on top and continued to create.

Colin Kazim-Richard’s introduction with 20 minutes remaining in place of Commons gave the Celts a different dynamic for the closing stages as they searched for a third goal, and that almost came through Griffiths when he gathered McGregor’s through ball but Cerny saved well at his feet before Kazim-Richards fired wide with the goal at his mercy.The powerful striker almost atoned for his miss moments later with a delightful turn and shot in the box but pulled his effort across the face of goal.

The game then took a dramatic twist with five minutes left when Erik Sviatchenko was booked for a pull in the box on Steven Lawless, giving the home team a penalty, which Welsh dispatched to the right of the goal, sending Gordon the wrong way.The Jags were buoyed by the strike and pushed for a point but Celtic held firm and kept the ball in the home team’s half to count down the clock and secure a massive three points in the title race.

CELTIC (4-3-3) Gordon; Lustig, Sviatchenko, Mulgrew, Tierney; McGregor, Brown, Bitton; Commons (Kazim-Richards 67), Griffiths (Armstrong 88), Mackay-Steven (Ambrose 90)Not used: Fasan, Rogic, Roberts, Forrest
PARTICK THISTLE: (4-1-1) Cerny; Miller, Lindsay, Seaborne, Booth; Amoo, Osman, Welsh, Lawless (Edwards 86); Fraser (Elliott 71), Doolan (Pogba 60)
Not used: Scully, German, Frans, Wilson


CctfpEdWIAIc4O7


Scottish Cup Quarter-Final

Celtic Park, Glasgow
Sunday, March 6, 2016
CELTIC…3
(Griffiths 14, Mackay-Steven 25, McGregor 35)
GREENOCK MORTON…0

A DOMINANT first-half display saw Celtic brush aside Greenock Morton 3-0 in Paradise and book their spot in the Scottish Cup semi-finals.Leigh Griffiths opened the scoring with his 34th goal of the season, before the lively Gary-Mackay-Steven doubled the advantage from Kieran Tierney’s cross.And ten minutes later, Callum McGregor sealed the champions’ passage to the last four of the competition with an exquisite finish from the edge of the box.Celtic struck the woodwork twice in the second period, with Patrick Roberts impressing again after coming off the bench.

But, despite not finding further reward, Ronny Deila would be satisfied at progressing in the competition and returning to winning ways after successive draws with Hamilton and Dundee.The manager had made four changes to his team following Wednesday’s goal-less draw with Dundee. Opting for a 4-3-3 formation, the manager moved birthday Bhoy Charlie Mulgrew into central defence at the expense of Dedryck Boyata, while Stefan Johansen and McGregor also returned to partner Scott Brown in midfield.

Kris Commons, who came on as a late substitute in the mid-week stalemate, started on the right of the front three, with Griffiths deployed in his usual central role and Mackay-Steven completing the changes for the Celts on the left. Roberts, Tom Rogic and Stuart Armstrong were the other players to drop out but were named on the bench.After a scrappy start to proceedings, the Hoops fashioned the first opportunity in the sixth minute. Mackay-Steven robbed Lee Kilday off possession and drove into the box but he elected to try and pick out Griffiths in the middle instead of pulling the trigger and Kilday managed to get back and avert the danger.

The winger looked the most likely outlet for the Hoops in the opening exchanges and after he had evaded the clutches of Kilday again his low cutback was just behind the onrushing Griffiths.After Morton had enjoyed a short spell of pressure, with Craig Gordon saving comfortably from an angled effort from Ross Forbes, Celtic resumed the offensive and made the breakthrough.Mackay-Steven was the provider. His delivery from the left was missed by defender Thomas O’Ware and Griffiths buried a right-footed shot under Derek Gaston at the back post.

That sparked further waves of attacks from the home side, with McGregor, Scott Brown and Griffiths having shots blocked by an increasingly stretched away defence.Spiritedly, Morton responded with a powerful long-range drive from Joe McKee which Gordon saved comfortably and it wasn’t long before the champions threatened again as O’Ware made a last-ditch block to thwart Commons in the box. From McGregor’s resultant corner, Mikael Lustig glanced over.Gaston then had to make an excellent save from Griffiths after the striker had fastened onto Johansen’s precise pass but the goalkeeper could do nothing moments later as Mackay-Steven doubled the advantage.

Tierney hit the byline and hit low cross picked out the former Dundee United man, who had the simple task of firing home from close range.At the other end, Gordon had to react sharply to save from Stefan McCluskey’s shot that came through a ruck of bodies.
However, with Celtic’s confidence growing, Jim Duffy’s side were struggling to stem the tide as Ronny Deila’s side zipped the ball around with pace and purpose.Tierney had a shot saved, Mulgrew struck the wall with a free-kick and Commons headed wide from Tierney’s cross as the chances continued to mount.

In the 35th minute, Morton’s resistance was broken again. McGregor was afforded space to burst towards the box and he finished with aplomb from 20 yards, curing a sumptuous shot beyond Gaston.The one-way traffic continued as half-time approached – Griffiths had a shot blocked by O’Hare and Mackay-Steven shot wide after being found by Tierney.Former Celt Michael Miller saw yellow for pulling back McGregor on the edge of the box as Morton became more desperate in their attempts to halt the onslaught.Johansen found the wall from the free-kick, and Miller was extremely fortunate not to receive further punishment 60 seconds from referee Willie Collum, having caught Johansen with a straight leg which left the Norwegian prone on the ground and in need of treatment after the half-time whistle.

Worryingly, the Celtic midfielder was unable to reappear for the restart, with Colin Kazim-Richards taking his place.Despite the change, the Hoops remained in control though their tempo had dipped somewhat from the first period, and aside from a header from Lustig that was saved by Gaston there was a dearth of meaningful opportunities.The introduction of Patrick Roberts on the hour mark injected fresh impetus into the Celtic attack. A wonderful solo run from the 19-year-old saw him leave several opponents for dead before striking the post.

And Roberts was also involved in the move that saw Commons find Kazim-Richards with a defence-splitting pass, the striker firing into the side-netting.Morton had carried more threat in the second half and Gordon had to make a tremendous point-blank save from Denny Johnstone following a corner, Celtic eventually clearing the ball from the ensuing melee.Mackay-Steven thundered a shot off the underside of the bar, after more good work from Roberts, and Kazim-Richards came close on two occasions as the Bhoys comfortably saw out the closing stages to seal their spot in the semi-finals.

CELTIC (4-3-3) Gordon; Lustig, Sviatchenko, Mulgrew, Tierney; McGregor, Brown, Johansen (Kazim-Richards 46); Commons (Armstrong 73), Griffiths (Roberts 60), Mackay-Steven
Not Used: Bailly, Rogic, Ambrose, Forrest, Armstrong

GREENOCK MORTON (3-5-2) Gaston; Kilday, O’Ware, Lamie; McCluskey (Gasparatto 76) McKee, Miller (Barr 51) Forbes, Russell; Johnstone (Quitongo 90),McManus
Not Used: McGowan, MacDonald, Scullion, Tennan


3b7f03252a40407231039371e38fa181


SPFL Premiership
Celtic Park
Wednesday, March 2, 2016

CELTIC…0
DUNDEE…0

CELTIC were held to a frustrating stalemate at Paradise tonight against a well-drilled Dundee team in the SPFL Premiership.Young Patrick Roberts was a bright spot on an evening of disappointment for Ronny Deila’s side as he made his first start for the Hoops but the Bhoys will look back on the match as a missed opportunity to maintain their six-point lead at the top of the league after Aberdeen overcame Dundee United 1-0.The champions will now turn their focus to Sunday’s clash against Greenock Morton in the Scottish Cup quarter-final where they will bid to return to winning ways.Celtic made five changes for the game, with the manager giving Charlie Mulgrew a rare start in midfield alongside Scott Brown, allowing the Hoops veteran to make his 200th appearance for the club in place of Stefan Johansen.

Craig Gordon returned in favour of Logan Bailly and Patrick Roberts won his first start for the Celts on the right of the attacking three along with the returning Tom Rogic and Stuart Armstrong, while Kris Commons, Scott Allan and Gary Mackay-Steven dropped out of the starting XI.Roberts’ inclusion in the line-up drew the biggest cheer from the home crowd before kick-off and the diminutive attacker almost repaid that backing immediately when he effortlessly ghosted in from the right flank past two Dundee defenders and aimed a shot at the far post, but Julen Etxabeguren got the block in for the visitors.Leigh Griffiths shot over from the resultant corner before the striker pulled another effort wide from outside the box as the Celts heaped the pressure on Paul Hartley’s side in the opening 15 minutes.

Griffiths won another sight of goal with a first-time volley after Roberts supplied an inviting cross from the right but the striker fired wide. The on-loan Manchester City winger then set up Mikael Lustig to cross for Mulgrew in the area but Scott Bain gathered the ball to thwart the chance.The pressure continued to mount as the champions pushed Dundee back before Mulgrew gave Bain his first real work over the evening by testing the keeper with a swerving free-kick from 20 yards out. He parried it wide but the Bhoys did not relent as Rogic forced the keeper into another smart save at his near post with a shot on the turn.Paul McGinn then saved Etxabeguren’s blushes just before half-time when he and Bain misjudged a ball over the top, allowing Griffiths to gather in the box but McGinn came across to clear the danger.

There was concern for the Celts when Griffiths had to go off for treatment following a heavy fall but he soon returned and forced Holt into a last-ditch clearance at the back post, before Sviatchenko headed over from the resultant corner.Craig Wighton’s mazy run before half-time gave the home defence their first and only scare of the half but the Bhoys cleared the danger to go in at the break level, and largely frustrated.James Forrest’s half-time introduction in place of Stuart Armstrong sought to inject more pace into the Celtic midfield, but the champions’ feeling of frustration from the first-half remained as the second period got underway.Celtic had upped the tempo after but the game very quickly took on a frustrated feel to it as the opener continued to evade Ronny Deila’s side, and the visitors grew in confidence as the match wore on.

With Hartley’s side continuing to fight and scrap for every ball, the champions brought on Colin Kazim-Richards for Rogic to add a bit of bite to their attack, but it was the visitors who went closest to taking the lead with Wighton’s shot on the turn saved by Gordon before Kevin Holt flashed a header over on the hour mark.Dundee then introduced Rory Loy and Gary Harkins with 20 minutes left and the game still finely poised at 0-0 before Greg Stewart also joined the action, completing the Dark Blues’ familiar attacking trio.As the visitors adjusted to their new line-up Celtic almost took the lead, and it was Roberts who was involved again, bursting into the area on the right before cutting it back for Mulgrew, who forced Bain into an excellent save.

The Hoops’ final throw of the dice came in the shape of Kris Commons who replaced Mikael Lustig, but the change in the backline almost caught the Bhoys out at a Dundee corner as Kostadin Gadzhalov was gifted space to get a clear header at goal but he conspired to send his effort wide from six yards.The match closed out with Celtic defending against the fresh legs of the Dundee attack, who cleverly wasted time by keeping the ball at the corner flag, frustrating the Bhoys and earning themselves a valuable point, much to the chagrin of the Hoops support.

CELTIC (4-2-3-1) Gordon; Lustig (Commons 80), Boyata, Sviatchenko, Tierney; Brown, Mulgrew; Roberts, Rogic (Kazim-Richards 61), Armstrong (Forrest 46); Griffiths.
Not used: Bailly, Allan, Ambrose, McGregor

DUNDEE (4-1-3-2) Bain; McGinn, Etxabeguren, Gadzhalov, Holt; Ross; Low (Harkins 70), McGowan, Kerr; Wighton (Stewart 76), Loy (Hemmings 68).
Not used: Mitchell, Meggatt, Arturo, Black


download


SFPL Scottish Premiership
New Douglas Park, Hamilton
Friday, February 26, 2016

HAMILTON ACCIES…1
(Brophy 75)
CELTIC…1
(Griffiths pen. 35)

TEN-MAN Celtic were held to a 1-1 draw by Hamilton Accies in a feisty encounter at New Douglas Park, leaving them seven points clear at the top of the table.Leigh Griffiths had put the Hoops ahead from the penalty spot after he had been fouled in the box by Dougie Imrie. It was the prolific striker’s 60th goal in his 94 game for the club.Dedryck Boyata controversially saw red before half-time when he looked to have got a touch on the ball when tackling Carlton Morris just outside the box.Griffiths missed the chance to double the Bhoys’ advantage 20 minutes into the second half when they were awarded another penalty after Mikael Lustig had been pulled in the box by Ziggy Gordon, with Michael McGovern diving to his left and making a fine save.

That meant Celtic’s lead remained precarious and Hamilton managed to grab an equaliser in the closing stages as substitute Eamonn Brophy lashed home following a corner.Despite the draw, the champions extended their advantage over Aberdeen at the league summit by an additional point, though the Dons will have a chance to close the gap tomorrow (Saturday) when they face St Johnstone.Scott Allan came in for his first Celtic start in domestic football as Ronny Deila made three changes to the team that defeated Inverness Caley Thistle 3-0 last week.The 24-year-old’s only previous start for the Hoops came in the 1-1 UEFA Europa League draw with Fenerbahce in Istanbul back in December.

But, having impressed in his several outings from the bench in recent weeks, he earned an attacking midfield berth for the trip to Lanarkshire. He replaced Stuart Armstrong in the side, with the former Dundee United player named among the substitutes.Kris Commons was also restored to the team after spending over a month on the sidelines at the expense of Nir Bitton who dropped out the squad.Between the sticks, Logan Bailly came in for Craig Gordon, the Belgian shot-stopper featuring for the first time since the Scottish Cup win over East Kilbride earlier this month.Allan was prominent in the early stages as Celtic quickly established control of the contest, dictating possession and fashioning several promising positions down either flank.

Aside from a number of crosses from the enterprising Lustig, however, they were unable to trouble the home rearguard or test goalkeeper McGovern.Indeed, despite being preoccupied by defensive duties during the opening exchanges, it was Martin Canning’s side who had the first two attempts on goal.Lucas Tagliapietra’s header from Ali Crawford’s hanging free-kick was easily saved by Bailly, but Crawford then spurned a golden chance to open the scoring when sent clear by Morris, the midfielder scooping his shot over the bar. Commons replied with a first-time effort from the edge of the area that trickled wide, but the Accies had been encouraged by their effective start, fuelling their desire to close down and deny the Hoops space to exploit.

Their good work was undone, though, 10 minutes prior to half-time. Griffiths turned sharply in the box was tripped by Dougie Imrie and referee Craig Thomson immediately pointed the spot. Up stepped Griffiths, who confidently drilled the ball down the middle for his 33rd goal of the season.It was vital breakthrough for the Bhoys, and Commons shot over from distance moments later, before Bailly had to rush out quickly to deny Morris from a tight angle.The match took another twist as half-time approached, though. Boyata tackled the onrushing Morris on the edge of the area and the Belgian defender was adjusted to have fouled the striker by referee Thomson, who brandished a red card, reducing Celtic to ten men for the rest of the game.

Charlie Mulgrew was introduced for Commons to fill the defensive void as Hamilton finished the half on top, with Bailly making a smart save from Crawford to keep the visitors in the lead as the teams headed in at the interval.Ronny Deila’s side emerged for the restart in a diamond midfield formation and Griffiths ploughing a lone furrow up front.Mackay-Steven had moved in off the right wing to operate as the most advanced midfielder and he close to doubling the advantage five minutes into the second period.Showing tremendous desire, Tierney won a 50-50 tackle down the left, sending the ball in behind the Hamilton backline. Mackay-Steven won the footrace but McGovern was out smartly to block the 25-year-old’s effort.

With their extra man, the hosts were having more of the ball without really threatening Bailly, while the champions looked dangerous on the break.Griffiths curled narrowly wide after one purposeful counter and the same player saw a shot parried by McGovern after being fed by Brown. Mackay-Steven’s rebound was deflected over by Tagliapietra.McGovern came to his side’s rescue again in the 65th minute when he thwarted Griffiths from the penalty spot. Lustig was fouled by Ziggy Gordon from a corner and Thomson had no hesitation in awarding a second spot-kick. This time, however, Griffiths went for the corner and McGovern guessed correctly, pushing the attempt wide.

That was to prove costly as Hamilton levelled the match. Celtic failed to clear their lines from a corner and Brophy, only on a few minutes as a substitute, lashed the loose ball into the top corner.It was now end-to-end stuff as both teams sought a winner, but it was Accies who came closest when Greg Docherty saw a shot blocked by Lustig in the box.

CELTIC (4-2-3-1) Bailly; Lustig, Boyata, Sviatchenko, Tierney; Brown, Johansen; Mackay-Steven (Christie 74), Commons (Commons 44), Allan (Kazim-Richards 86); Griffiths
Not Used: Gordon, Mulgrew, McGregor , Roberts, Armstrong,

HAMILTON ACCIES (4-2-3-1) McGovern; Gordon, Devlin, Tagliapietra, Kurakins; Lyon (Brophy 69), MacKinnon; Crawford, Imrie, Kurtaj (Docherty 78); Morris (Diaby 90+1)
Not Used: Martin, Gillespie, D’Acol, Mandiangu


hqdefault


Scottish Premiership
Celtic Park
Saturday, February 20, 2016

CELTIC…3
(Mackay-Steven 53, Griffiths 59, 90+2)

INVERNESS CALEY THISTLE…0

A QUICK-FIRE second-half double helped the champions go six points clear at the top of the SPFL Premiership as they saw off a spirited Inverness Caley Thistle side at Paradise with a 3-0 victory.

After a frustrating first-half for Ronny Deila’s side, the deadlock was broken by Gary Mackay-Steven early in the second-half as he drilled in a well-placed volley from the edge of the area following neat play on the edge of the box.

Leigh Griffiths then grabbed his 31st goal of the season with a typically deadly strike inside the area to double the lead minutes later, and he finished the day off with a powerful shot in stoppage time after excellent footwork from substitutes Patrick Roberts, Ryan Christie and Scott Allan.

Ronny Deila named an unchanged starting XI from the side that defeated Ross County last weekend and they dominated the opening stages of the match, enjoying all the possession, but they found little penetration through the Inverness backline.

Dedryck Boyata went near with a glancing header but the Belgian defender also landed the Bhoys in trouble at the back on several occasions with a few stray passes, before he fouled Iain Vigurs for Caley Thistle’s best chance of the game.

Vigurs dusted himself down to curl in a dangerous ball to the back post from the left flank, which was missed by everyone, allowing Gary Warren to head wide with the goal gaping.

The Celts responded through Griffiths, who stung the hands of Fon-Williams in the Inverness goal with a low drive from 20 yards, but the Highland side remained on top, pressing the Bhoys high up the pitch, and they went on to enjoy their best spell of the first-half.

The visitors went close again to taking the lead when Ross Draper fizzed a curling shot wide after Mackay-Steven lost possession outside the box. The Highlanders then stole the ball off Griffiths high up the pitch and launched a four-on-two counter-attack, but Griffiths showed great determination to track back and stop Miles Storey from pulling the trigger in the box.

The half ended with Erik Sviatchenko booked for a foul on Jordan Roberts as the pair fought for a ball over the top, but the visitors couldn’t fashion a chance from the free-kick.

The second-half had a frantic opening as both teams flooded forward to find the opener, and Celtic had Craig Gordon to thank when he saved brilliantly from Roberts, spreading himself well and timing his block to perfection.

The deadlock was finally broken moments later, however, when a powerful snapshot from Mackay-Steven outside the box whistled past Fon-Williams and hit the back of the net. The goal came from some neat play on the edge of the area between Nir Bitton and Sviatchenko before the ball sat up kindly for Mackay-Steven, who made sure of the shot from 20 yards.

And John Hughes’ side soon found themselves 2-0 down when Griffiths beat Fon-Williams with a low angled drive from the right of the box.

The forward had dropped deep to spread play to Tierney on the left and the full-back returned the favour by finding Griffiths’ feet outside the box. The striker then turned his man and drove into the box before lashing a pinpoint shot into the bottom corner to give the Hoops breathing space on the hour mark.

Ronny Deila introduced Scott Allan shortly afterwards in place of Armstrong on the left, and Celtic almost made it 3-0 as they burst forward with a great flowing move through Johansen and Mikael Lustig, but the Norwegian’s final shot was saved comfortably by the Inverness keeper.

The midfielder was then replaced by former Caley Thistle attacker Ryan Christie, who looked eager to impress by gathering the ball in good areas and trying to link up with Allan down the left.

Patrick Roberts then replaced Mackay-Steven to make his debut for the champions and almost marked it with a goal, but the Inverness defence did well to block his low shot in the box.

There was one more goal left in the Bhoys, however and Roberts did have a say in it. His flick to Scott Allan on the edge of the box allowed the ex-Hibs midfielder to set up Griffiths for his second of the afternoon with a clinical finish from the left in stoppage time.

The Bhoys now prepare to head to Hamilton on Friday with a six-point lead at the top of the table over Aberdeen.

CELTIC (4-2-3-1) Gordon; Lustig, Boyata, Sviatchenko, Tierney; Brown, Bitton; Mackay-Steven (Roberts 82), Johansen (Christie 67), Armstrong (Allan 63); Griffiths.
Not used: Bailly, Mulgrew, Commons, Kazim-Richards

INVERNESS CALEY THISTLE (4-2-3-1) Fon-Williams; Horner (Hughes 78), Warren, Devine, Tremarco; Tansey (Williams 88), Draper; Polworth, Roberts (Mbuyi-Mutombo 72), Vigurs; Storey.
Not used: Esson, Wedderburn, Brown, Maclennan


celtic-2-0-ross-county--scottish-premiership-highlights--1-8-2015

Scottish Premiership

Celtic Park, Glasgow
Saturday, February 13, 2016

CELTIC…2
(Griffiths 45, Boyata 57)
ROSS COUNTY…0

LEIGH Griffiths bagged his 30th goal of the season as Celtic deservedly dispatched Ross County in Paradise to move three points clear at the top of the table.
The Hoops hit-man lashed home a loose ball on the stroke of half-time to give Ronny Deila’s side the lead and become the quickest Celtic player to reach the 30-goal milestone in a season since Henrik Larsson.And once Dedryck Boyata doubled the advantaged early in the second half with a determined header from Stuart Armstrong’s cross, the champions never looked in danger of surrendering the spoils.

Nir Bitton returned to the Celtic starting XI as Ronny Deila made five changes from the team that lined up against East Kilbride in the Scottish Cup fifth round victory.Craig Gordon, Mikael Lustig, Stefan Johansen and Stuart Armstrong were also restored to the starting XI. Logan Bailly, Efe Ambrose, Charlie Mulgrew, James Forrest and Colin Kazim-Richards dropped to the bench.Celtic were quick out the blocks, driven on by an early purposeful burst from Bitton, and Griffiths had an angled shot blocked inside the opening two minutes by Richard Foster after Kieran Tierney had crossed from the left.

Ronny Deila’s side then forced a series of corners, with Lustig and Erik Sviatchenko, making his home bow, threatening to profit.Johansen was back in the No.10 role that he operated in for most of last season and he was finding plenty of dangerous positions in front of the County defence.In the ninth minute, he burst towards the box before releasing Mackay-Steven with a deft pass, and the winger’s shot brought out a low save from Scott Fox, the loose ball trickling wide of the post.Former Celt Jackson Irvine had the visitors’ first attempt on goal, lashing wide from Foster’s cutback but that was the exception to the rule as Celtic resumed their offensive.

The Hoops were racking up the corner count and the away side looked uncomfortable as they sought to repel the set-pieces. After a melee in the six-yard box from Stuart Armstrong’s hanging delivery, Griffiths saw an acrobatic effort blocked on the line.Armstrong also saw a shot blocked from Lustig’s cross as the Hoops continued to probe for the opening goal. However, they lacked their earlier fluency and the game became more scrappy, with play punctuated by fouls as Chris Robertson and Michael Gardyne entered the book.In the 35th minute, though, the hosts suddenly sprang into life with an incisive passing move that unlocked the Highlanders. Johansen released Griffiths through the middle. The striker sped away from his markers and rounded Fox but his final shot cannoned off the post.

Moments later, the Bhoys fashioned another promising position on the edge of the box but Johansen saw his effort blocked by Robertson.But just as the visitors looked as though they would survive until half-time, who else but Griffiths found a way through. Tierney did well down the left to dig out a cross into the box. Johansen rose to challenge for it in the middle and when the loose ball dropped for Griffiths, he hammered a first-time shot into the far corner for his 30th goal of a sensational season.Celtic came close to doubling their advantage five minutes after the interval as Johansen sent Mackay-Steven scampering clear, but the former Dundee United player couldn’t keep his right-footed shot down.

Mackay-Steven then turned provider as the Hoops broke at speed. Running all the way from his own box to the edge of the County area, he fed Johansen on the right. The Norwegian’s intended pass for Griffiths was blocked back into his path. He elected to take aim himself but failed to find the target.The home support didn’t have long to wait, however, to celebrate a second goal. Armstrong went down the outside and his swirling cross looked to be out of Boyata’s reach, but the big defender did brilliantly to arch his neck and divert a header inside the post, despite being held by Paul Quinn.

That was another confidence-booster for the Bhoys and they were now moving the ball around with pace and precision as Brown tried his luck from distance, while Sviatchenko was inches away from scoring on his home debut from Armstrong’s corner. Good footwork from Griffiths in the 70th minute gave the Scotland internationalist another sight of goal but this time he curled over. Jim McIntyre’s side hadn’t been able to a meaningful response since Celtic had broken the deadlock, though a rare moment of slackness in the Celtic defence allowed Gardyne to cross from the byline, but Bitton was on hand in the middle to avert the danger.Griffiths and substitute Tom Rogic shot over for the Hoops and, although Gordon had to make an outstanding save from Johnathan Franks drive from distance, the champions were never seriously troubled as comfortably saw out the closing stages to clinch the three points.

CELTIC (4-2-3-1) Gordon; Lustig, Boyata, Sviatchenko, Tierney; Brown, Bitton; Mackay-Steven, Johansen (Rogic 77), Armstrong (Forrest 84); Griffiths (Kazim-Richards 79)
Not Used: Bailly, Izaguirre, Mulgrew, McGregor

ROSS COUNTY (4-4-1-1) Fox; Fraser (Reckford 82), Quinn (Murdoch 65) Robertson, Foster; Franks, McShane, Woods, Gardyne; Irvine; Boyce (Schalk 61)
Not Used: Woods, Graham, De Vita, Goodwillie


CZMcQGRWEAAGaR6-600x336


Scottish Cup Fifth Round
Excelsior Stadium, Airdrie
Sunday, February 7, 2016

EAST KILBRIDE…0
CELTIC…2
(Griffiths 20, Kazim-Richards 50)

CELTIC cruised into the quarter-finals of the Scottish Cup with a 2-0 victory over Lowland League side East Kilbride at the Excelsior Stadium in Airdrie.The Bhoys dominated proceedings in the one-sided game between the Scottish champions and the Lowland League outfit, but could only find the net once in either half, despite creating a plethora of chances.Leigh Griffiths broke the deadlock on 20 minutes when he squeezed a close-range shot over the line after Gary Mackay-Steven’s corner before Colin Kazim Richards sealed the Celts’ progression to Monday’s quarter-final draw in similar circumstances five minutes into the second-half.The Bhoys hit the post in the second-half and reached double figures in corners but Matt McGinley’s saves in the East Kilbride goal combined with some resolute defending saw Billy Ogilvie’s side keep the score respectable.

Celtic will now find out their opponents in the next round following the draw on Monday.Ronny Deila made five changes for the game following the 2-1 defeat to Aberdeen on Wednesday evening and the reshuffled line-up saw a return to action for Hoops midfielder Charlie Mulgrew.The 29-year-old last featured for the champions in the UEFA Europa League clash with Ajax at Celtic Park last November, where he aggravated an injury and was subsequently side-lined for over two months, but he won his place in the starting XI following a strong 45 minutes for the Development Squad in their recent 3-0 victory over Rangers.Colin Kazim-Richards also made his first start for the Celts, partnering Leigh Griffiths up front as Ronny Deila switched to a 4-4-2 formation. Craig Gordon, Mikael Lustig, Stuart Armstrong and Callum McGregor were the others to drop out and they were replaced by Logan Bailly, Efe Ambrose, James Forrest and Mulgrew.

The Celts started the game briskly and won a series of early corners. Mulgrew’s glancing header from the first went just over the bar before East Kilbride’s defence had to act quickly to thwart a low shot from Griffiths in the six-yard box moments later.Erik Sviatchenko had a volley parried by Matt McGinley in the Kilby goal before Griffiths also went close again with a direct free-kick in the first 15 minutes as the Hoops dominated proceedings.The Lowland League side had ridden the early storm but their resistance was eventually broken on the 20 minute mark when Griffiths put the Celts in front from another corner from the right.Dedryck Boyata initially won the header from Mackay-Steven’s set-piece but the ball was blocked on the line and fell to the feet of the Hoops striker, who bundled it home to put the Bhoys into the lead.

However, the anticipated deluge of chances and goals never came as the Lowland League side held firm in the wake of Griffiths’ strike.The Celts pinned Kilby back with corners but a pair of curling efforts from distance from Forrest marked the Hoops best chances in the aftermath of the goal as half-time approached.A stinging volley from the lively Mackay-Steven was well saved by McGinley but there were no more goals in the first-half.East Kilbride opened the second-half with much more intent and won an early free-kick on the left but the Hoops defended well and broke up the pitch.
Another wave of corners from the Bhoys kept Billy Ogilvie’s side pinned in and eventually brought the second goal, which was poked over the line after another Mackay-Steven corner by Kazim Richards in almost identical fashion to Griffiths’ opener.In a difference from the first goal, however, Celtic stepped up the pressure immediately after finding the net and could have added to their lead almost instantly through Griffiths’ acrobatic shot and a careless clearance from Craig Howie, which skimmed off the right-hand post Kilby goal.

Wave after wave of Celtic attacks kept East Kilbride camped in their own 18-yard box but a combination of brave defending and excellent saves from McGinley kept the Hoops out.Ronny Deila then swapped the industrious Mackay-Steven with Scott Allan with just over 20 minutes remaining as the champions sought to add to their advantage. The returning Charlie Mulgrew was also withdrawn shortly after and replaced by Nir Bitton following a solid contribution from the Scotland internationalist.As the match drew to a close the Celts continued to pepper the Kilby goal with crosses and only the post denied Scott Brown from finding the net as he struck a sweet, curling effort from distance.Ogilvie’s side defended well until the end, however, and kept the score respectable, despite Celtic’s best efforts.

CELTIC (4-4-2) Bailly; Ambrose, Boyata, Sviatchenko, Tierney; Mackay-Steven (Allan 68), Brown, Mulgrew (Bitton 72), Forrest; Kazim-Richards, Griffiths (Christie 80)
Not used: Fasan, Izaguirre, Lustig, Armstrong

EAST KILBRIDE (4-5-1) McGinley; Stevenson, Howie, Russell, Coll; Lachlan, Brady (Millar 89), Johnstone (Templeton85), McBride, Hastings (Gormley 62); Smith
Not used: Kean, Morris, MacDonald, Craig


download


Scottish Premiership
Pittodrie, Aberdeen
Wednesday, February 3, 2016

ABERDEEN…2
(Hayes 31, McLean 38)
CELTIC…1
(Griffiths 90+3)

FIRST-HALF goals from Johnny Hayes and Simon Church consigned Celtic to a narrow 2-1 defeat in a hard-fought top-of-the-table clash against Aberdeen at Pittodrie.The Hoops had the better of the opening half but the clinical hosts broke the deadlock in spectacular style in the 31st minute as Hayes’ long-range thunderbolt rocketed past Craig Gordon.It was their first effort on target but worse was to befall the Bhoys seven minutes later when Church forced the ball home from Hayes corner to leave them two goals adrift at the interval.Ronny Deila’s side never gave up the fight in the second-half but Leigh Griffiths’ late consolation goal came too late to give them a chance to claw their way back into the match, though they still hold a three-point lead over the Dons at the league summit.Celtic were handed a boost before kick off as captain Scott Brown returned to the starting XI for the first time in over two months as the manager made two changes to the team that lined up against Ross County on Sunday.

The 30-year-old had come on as a second-half substitute against the Highlanders at Hampden, having been sidelined since the home match with Kilmarnock on November 21.New Bhoy Erik Sviatchenko also made his first start for the club after he had also featured from the bench against County. Efe Ambrose and Stefan Johansen were the two players to drop out, with the former named among the substitutes, alongside transfer deadline day recruit Colin Kazim-Richards.The match started at a frenetic pace as both teams fought for supremacy, leaving little opportunity for prolonged passing football, which was a difficult task in any event on the bare and patchy surface. However, it was the Hoops who did fashion the more promising positions in the early exchanges. A foul in the fifth minute by Kenny McLean on Stuart Armstrong gave Nir Bitton the opportunity to showcase his shooting skills, albeit from over 35 yards. His dipping drive did find the target, but goalkeeper Scott Brown managed to gather at the second attempt.

The Aberdeen shot-stopper was called into action from a couple of set-pieces from Armstrong, before his namesake, the Celtic skipper, rifled a shot narrowly over from 25 yards. Aside from a McLean blazing a free-kick well over for the Dons, Celtic continued to make the running, with Griffiths seeing a curling shot deflected wide after a purposeful burst from Gary Mackay-Steven.Brown, despite his long absence, had been heavily involved from the outset, showing his customary tenacity and industry to drive his team forward. And it was a foul on the midfielder that gave the Bhoys their next opening as Griffiths’ free-kick was cleared as far as Armstrong but the former Dundee United player failed to make a proper connection.The Hoops also had a handball appeal waved away from another Armstrong corner, while some nice-link up play between Armstrong and Mackay-Steven forced the Dons defence into a hurried clearance.

But, for all their pressure, Ronny Deila’s side found themselves trailing just beyond the half-hour mark. Hayes was the first to a loose ball near the angle of the box and the Irishman flashed an unstoppable first-time shot beyond Gordon.Celtic responded well to this setback as they immediately poured forward, with Bitton seeing a powerful effort parried clear by Brown.But from the Dons’ next attack they quickly doubled their advantage through debutant Church, who got the final touch after McLean had glanced the ball on from Hayes’ corner.Aberdeen’s tails were up and Gordon had to make a smart stop from McLean’s venomous strike from distance on the stroke of half-time.Kazim-Richards was introduced for the start of the second period to add further firepower as Celtic looked to turn the match around.Keen to make an impression, the Turkish internationalist showed some neat touches and came close to getting a touch to Griffiths’ inviting low cross.

A determined drive into the box from Brown then created an opportunity for Griffiths, but the striker was unable to guide his header on target from the captain’s deft cross.Derek McInnes’ side, while mostly on the defensive, continued to pose a threat from set-pieces, while Church stabbed a shot wide from an acute angle. Gordon also had to make a good save from McGinn’s shot from 20 yards as the home side hit on the break.Celtic threw on James Forrest and Scott Allan in the latter stages to add more invention. But, despite some late pressure, which included a shot across goal from Sviatchenko, they couldn’t find a way through until Griffiths’ fine low finish deep into stoppage time.

CELTIC (4-2-3-1) Gordon; Lustig (Allan 78), Boyata, Sviatchenko, Tierney; Brown, Bitton; Mackay-Steven, McGregor (Forrest 68), Armstrong (Kazim-Richard 46); Griffiths
Not Used: Bailly, Ambrose, Izaguirre, Cole

ABERDEEN (4-4-1-1) Brown; Logan, Taylor, Reynolds, Shinne; Storie, McLean; Rooney, Hayes (Smith 86), McGinn (Considine 72); Church (Pawlett 76)
Not Used: Collin, McKenna, Robson, Ross, Smith


CelticvRossCounty-370x208


Scottish League Cup semi-final
Hampden Park
Sunday, January 31, 2016

ROSS COUNTY…3
(Woods 15, Quinn 48, Shalk 63)
CELTIC…1
(Mackay-Steven 1)

CELTIC’S treble hopes were extinguished in heart-breaking fashion at Hampden after they lost 3-1 to Ross County in the semi-final of the League Cup.The Hoops took a stunning lead through Gary Mackay-Steven inside 30 seconds but they were soon pegged back by Martin Woods from the penalty spot after Efe Ambrose saw red for a challenge on Alex Shalk in the Celtic box.The Celts held strong until the interval but an early second-half header from Paul Quinn put the Highlanders in the lead before Shalk’s close-range finish settled the game after the hour mark.Leigh Griffiths had a chance to pull his side back into the match when substitute Brian Graham handled in the box but the striker’s penalty was saved by Scott Fox, and the result saw County proceed to the final where they will take on Hibernian.It was a dramatic and controversial match that ultimately ended in disappointment for the Bhoys but they will now look to bounce back against Aberdeen in the league on Wednesday evening, where they could stretch their lead at the top of the SPFL Premiership to nine points.

Ronny Deila made just one change to his team for his 100th match in charge following the 3-1 win over St Johnstone as the returning Dedryck Boyata replaced Jozo Simunovic in the centre of defence to pair up with Ambrose.Scott Brown won a place on the bench as he continues his return to fitness and he was joined by recent signing Erik Sviatchenko and young Celt, Aidan Nesbitt.Ross County kicked off but they were quickly dispossessed by the Celts which allowed the Hoops to spring the first attack of the match and take the lead inside 30 seconds.A clever through pass from Callum McGregor eliminated the County midfield and allowed Griffiths to race through on goal. The striker opted to slide the ball into the path of Mackay-Steven rather than shoot, and the winger fired past Scott Fox with his right foot to give the Celts a dream start.The Hoops kept up the pressure and they almost went two up when Ambrose had a header cleared off the line from a corner. The Nigerian had another header go wide before Ross County got their first shot of the game in, with Shalk testing Craig Gordon from distance.

The Bhoys were dominant but the Highlanders were then handed a lifeline when the referee blew for a penalty after Shalk went down in the Celtic box under a challenge from Ambrose. Contact looked minimal but the decision was given and Martin Woods scored from the spot on 14 minutes to level the match.The Hoops were down to 10 men and were forced to take off McGregor, who had been influential early on, for Erik Sviatchenko to slot into the centre of defence.Celtic remained well in contention despite their numerical disadvantage and signalled their intent to get back in front with a curling shot from Stuart Armstrong that swerved just over the crossbar.County were dangerous on the break, however, and Kieran Tierney was forced into a string of runs up and down the left touchline to cover the space.Gordon had to save again from Woods, this time punching the midfielder’s squiggling shot to safety, but the Bhoys also had a chance to get back in front through a dangerous corner from Stefan Johansen which bobbled about in the County box but brave goalkeeping from Fox at the feet of Sviatchenko kept matters level at the interval after a pulsating first-half.

Celtic emerged for the second-half before Ross County but their enthusiasm to get the game back underway was cut short just minutes after the restart when the Staggies took the lead in the game for the first time.The Highlanders won an early corner and Woods’ whipped cross found Davies free at the back post. The defender headed the ball back into the six yard box and it was nodded home by Paul Quinn.It was a nightmare start to the half for the champions, who could feel aggrieved at the goal standing as Gordon looked like he was being held back from attacking the ball. The Celtic keeper was booked for his protests.Mikael Lustig then followed him into the referee’s note book as the Bhoys continued to express their frustrations at a string of contentious decisions which went against them.Matters then went from bad to worse for the Celts when a quick breakaway from County saw the Highlanders go 3-1 up. Jackson Irvine’s quick pass found Woods in midfield. He then threaded a pass in to Shalk who controlled with his left and rifled a high shot past Gordon at the near post.

Celtic replaced Nir Bitton with skipper Brown as they sought a way back into the game and and they got a golden chance to get back into the game when Graham was penalised for a handball in the County box 10 minutes from time. Leigh Griffiths, stepped up to take the kick but his low shot was saved by the knees of Fox. Late drama engulfed the game with Gordon pulling out a great stop to deny Jackson Irvine and Fox also saving on the line from Griffiths, but Celtic’s late rally was in vain and the Hoops will now look to bounce back on Wednesday in their league clash with Aberdeen at Pittodrie.

CELTIC (4-2-3-1) Gordon; Lustig, Ambrose, Boyata, Tierney; Bitton (Brown 67), Johansen; Mackay-Steven, McGregor (Sviatchenko 14), Armstrong (Forrest 79); Griffiths.
Not used: Bailly, Izaguirre, Ciftci, Nesbitt

ROSS COUNTY (4-4-2) Fox; Fraser, Quinn, Davies, Foster; Murdoch (Franks 28), McShane, Woods, Gardyne (Boyce 83); Shalk (Graham 71), Irvine.
Not used: Woods, Reckord, Boyd, De Vita


78996-celtic-v-st-johnstone-team-news-and-preview


Scottish Premiership
Celtic Park, Glasgow
Saturday, January 23, 2016

CELTIC…3
(Mackay-Steven 9, 55, Armstrong 43)
ST JOHNSTONE…1
(MacLean 12)

GARY Mackay-Steven scored his first two goals of the season to help Celtic sweep aside St Johnstone 3-1 in Paradise and restore their six-point lead at the top of the Scottish Premiership.The winger opened the scoring inside the opening 10 minutes, stroking the ball home after Leigh Griffiths’ shot had deflected into his path.That goal was swiftly cancelled out by Steven MacLean but Stuart Armstrong put the dominant Hoops in the driving seat again just before the break, blasting in from Mikael Lustig’s cross.

And Mackay-Steven sealed the points early in the second half, collecting Stefan Johansen’s pass and rolling the ball into the corner. Kieran Tierney and Johansen returned to the starting XI as Ronny Deila made two changes to the team which trounced Hamilton 8-1 on Tuesday night. Emilio Izaguirre was named among the substitutes while Tom Rogic missed out through injury.Recent recruit Erik Sviatchenko was paraded to the crowd prior to kick off, while Ryan Christie, having officially become a Bhoy at the start of January, came off the bench late in the game to make his Hoops debut.

Fuelled by their exhilarating showing earlier in the week, Celtic made a brisk start, moving the ball at pace and creating several promising positions before taking the lead in ninth minute.Griffiths, the hat-trick hero against the Accies, inadvertently turned provider this time. Collecting a pass on the edge of the area, he cut inside and pulled the trigger. His shot was deflected into Mackay-Steven’s path and the winger took a touch and then drilled a shot under Alan Mannus. Moments later, Armstrong almost doubled the advantage when Mannus blocked his shot after he had been sent clear by Callum McGregor.

But on their first meaningful attack, the visitors levelled the match. Michael O’Halloran held off Jozo Simunovic and cut the ball back from the byline and MacLean was on hand to convert from close- range at the near post.Aside from MacLean squeezing a shot on target from which Craig Gordon made a comfortable save, it was all Celtic, with the Perth side working hard to get men behind the ball and repel constant attacking waves.Bitton tested Mannus with a dipping drive from distance and Ronny Deila’s side sent in a number of inviting crosses to the box from either flank, with Tierney providing plentiful supply down the left in addition to defending diligently at the back.And it was from another of the teenager’s deliveries that the Hoops came close in the 27th minute as Mackay- Steven fired a first-time shot over the bar.

Johansen then sent Lustig scampering down the right with a precise pass, the Swede’s low centre somehow missed by several awaiting Celtic players inside the six-yard box.It was one-way traffic, and Ronny Deila’s side opened up the resilient away side with some slick, passing football twice in quick succession, but McGregor and then Griffiths were crowded out at crucial moment.Griffiths was denied by last-gasp challenge by Brian Easton and McGregor had a shot well-saved by Mannus as the Bhoys continued to pile on the pressure before half-time. Eventually, it paid off.

Mackay-Steven released Lustig down the right and the stand-in skipper’s cross was volleyed home by Armstrong. It was a well-deserved lead for the hosts after their dominance in the opening period and they were determined not to let Tommy Wright’s side back into contest.The lively Mackay-Steven had the first effort on target after the restart, spinning away from his marker and unleashing a rasping shot from 20 yards. Mannus was unable to hold it but Griffiths was unable to convert the rebound.Surging inside off the right flank, Mackay-Steven had been a constant threat and he bagged his second goal of the afternoon 10 minutes into the second half to give Celtic a two-goal cushion.

Johansen burst forward from midfield and his clever reverse ball picked out the run of Mackay-Steven, who steadied himself before finding the far corner.With the Perth outfit
now forced to emerge from their defensive shell, the match suddenly became more open with a flurry of chances at either end.Armstrong and Griffiths were thwarted by Mannus, before Johansen had to clear off the line following a corner. Gordon also made a superb reflex save to deny Liam Craig from close-range. Griffiths, Mackay-Steven and McGregor had opportunities to add to the Hoops’ tally, while Michael O’Halloran came close late on for the Saints but the champions were not to be denied maximum reward, a prize they richly deserved.

CELTIC (4-2-3-1) Gordon; Lustig, Ambrose, Simunovic, Tierney; Bitton, Johansen; Mackay-Steven (Forrest 86) McGregor (Allan 79), Armstrong (Christie 88) Griffiths
Not Used: Fasan, Izaguirre, Ciftci, Boyata

ST JOHNSTONE (4-4-1-1) Mannus; Shaughnessy, Anderson, Scobbie, Easton; Davidson (Caddis 69); O’Halloran, Wotherspoon, Lappin, Cummins (Craig 46); MacLean (Sutton 65)
Not Used: Clark, Mackay, Kane, Thomson


05609e098531a2887cc16547eacc9a8e


Scottish Premiership
Celtic Park, Glasgow
Tuesday, January 19, 2016

CELTIC…8
(Lustig 4, Bitton 9, Rogic 10, Griffiths 23, 33, 54, Forrest 52, McGregor 90)
HAMILTON ACCIES…1
(Brophy 73)

LEIGH Griffiths hammered in a hat-trick as Celtic turned on the style in Paradise to crush Hamilton Accies 8-1 and move six points clear at the top of the table.It was another deadly striking display from the striker – who has now scored 27 times this season – but, overall, this was an outstanding team performance from Ronny Deila’s side, who left the home crowd delighted with their exhilarating, attacking football.Mikael Lustig, Nir Bitton and Tom Rogic had the Hoops three goals up inside the first 10 minutes, before Griffiths struck twice to give them a five-goal lead at the interval – but it could easily have been more as Accies struggled to stem the tide.

Substitute James Forrest made it 6-0 and then Griffiths ensured he would leave with the matchball with number seven.Eamonn Brophy scored a consolation for Martin Canning’s side but Callum McGregor, another outstanding performer, had the last word in the final minute, rifling into the corner from the edge of the area as the Scottish champions left the pitch to a standing ovation. Gary Mackay-Steven returned to Celtic starting XI for the first time since the UEFA Europa League meeting with Ajax on November 26, as Ronny Deila made three changes from the team that triumphed 4-1 against Dundee United last Friday night.Bitton also returned to the team following suspension, while Emilio Izaguirre came in at left-back.

Kris Commons, Stefan Johansen and Kieran Tierney were the three players to drop out.The Hoops started with great gusto and purpose and they came close to opening the scoring inside the opening 60 seconds.Izaguirre immediately embarked on one of his familiar forward forays from left back and his cross-shot was palmed away by goalkeeper Michael McGovern only as far as Griffiths, whose powerful shot blasted off the head of McGovern.McGregor then shot over but it only took until the fourth minute for Celtic to break the visitors’ resistance. Stuart Armstrong was fouled on the left and when he swung the resultant free-kick into the box, Lustig rose highest to nod the ball in at the far post.

Number two arrived five minutes later in spectacular style from the right foot of Bitton. Collecting McGregor’s pass 30 yards from the goal the Israeli casually, with little backlift, unleashed an unstoppable shot into the top corner, Hamilton simply couldn’t cope with Celtic’s pace and movement and they found themselves three goals down before 10 minutes had elapsed.Bursting into the box, Lustig’s cutback from the right was only partially cleared. Rogic showed more desire to reach the loose ball and held off his marker before seeing his shot deflected beyond McGovern by Michael Devlin. Celtic were rampant and sensed blood. Griffiths had a shot blocked by Ziggy Gordon from an acute angle, before an untimely bobble denied the hit-man a clear run on goal.

Armstrong and Izaguirre then combined brilliantly down the left and when the Honduran’s ball fell for Rogic, only a goal-line block from Devlin prevented the ball finding the net.The Hamilton defender saved his side again moments later when he got in the way of Mackay-Steven’s rasping effort that looked to have beaten McGovern. Again, Izaguirre was the provider.Midway through the half, Griffiths finally got in on the act. Mackay-Steven drove at the heart of the Accies backline and then supplied the 25-year-old with a precise pass and he made no mistake.Aside from a couple of speculative long-range efforts from Martin Canning’s side, the best coming from Ali Crawford, it was one-way traffic.

Only a last-gasp challenge from Lucas Tacliapietra denied Bitton from a simple finish after he had fastened on to Lustig’s lofted pass. Ambrose was next to threaten, hooking over after Hamilton failed to deal with a corner. Armstrong had another shot saved by McGovern, before Griffiths bagged his brace and, incredibly, made it 5-0 in the 33rd minute. After the ball had broken out to the right after yet another Celtic attack, Rogic and Griffiths remained alert while the Hamilton switched off: The Australian gathered the ball and lashed it across goal for Griffiths, who applied the finish.McGovern then made two excellent saves from Mackay-Steven and Lustig as the onslaught continued before half-time. The former Celt also reacted brilliantly to stop Griffiths’ deflected free-kick as the Hoops left the field at the break to huge cheers after a swashbuckling showing.

With the game over, Ronny Deila withdrew Rogic, who picked up a knock, and Jozo Simunovic, with Scott Allan and James Forrest entering the fray. Nir Bitton moved to central defence.And the two substitutes linked up beautifully for goal number six – Allan rolled the ball into Forrest’s path and he side-footed the ball into the far corner.Almost straight from the restart, Celtic inflicted further punishment. Devlin’s clearance was charged down by Griffiths and the striker ran in on goal before coolly lobbing McGovern to claim his hat-trick.Bitton and Griffiths tried their luck from free-kicks after fouls on Allan and then Armstrong brought out a brilliant save from McGovern with a stinging shot.

In the 65th minute, some slick interplay between Forrest and Allan saw the former lash goalwards, with another outstanding save from McGovern tipping the ball on to the top of the bar.There was no let-up as Celtic continued to carve out chance after chance. Brophy slotted home to give the weary travelling support something to cheer, slotting in from a tight angle, but McGregor’s fine strike ensured the champions finished with a flourish.

CELTIC (4-2-3-1) Gordon; Lustig, Ambrose, Simunovic (Forrest 46( Izaguirre; McGregor, Bitton; Mackay-Steven, Rogic (Allan 46), Armstrong; Griffiths (Cole 65)
Not Used: Bailly, Tierney, Ciftci, Commons

HAMILTON (4-2-3-1) McGovern; Gordon, Devlin, Tacliapietra, Kurakins; Gillespie (Lyon 83), Mackinnon; Kurtaj (Imrie 46), Crawford, Docherty; D’Acol (Brophy 61)
Not Used: Martin, Morris, Garcia Tena, Nade


ARABSvCELTIC


SPFL Premiership
Tannadice, Dundee
Friday, January 15, 2015

DUNDEE UNITED…1
(Murray 31)
CELTIC…4
(Griffiths 21, 48, Simunovic 27, Commons 57)

CELTIC stretched their lead at the top of the SPFL Premiership to six points over Aberdeen with a thrilling 4-1 win over Dundee United at Tannadice.It was a night full of landmark moments for the champions as Leigh Griffiths bagged his 50th and 51st goals for the club, Jozo Simunovic netted his first, Stefan Johansen made his 100th appearance and Kris Commons scored a goal of the season candidate as the Celts strolled to victory on the road.The Hoops were in command in the first-half through Griffiths and Simunovic but Simon Murray pulled one back for the home side before half-time. Griffiths then scored early in the second-half before Commons lashed in an acrobatic effort to make it 4-1 to give the Scottish champions their third win on the bounce in 2016.

Three changes were made for the match following the 3-0 victory over Stranraer in the Scottish Cup last Sunday as Craig Gordon replaced Logan Bailly in goals and Tom Rogic came in to cover for the suspended Nir Bitton.Former Dundee United star Stuart Armstrong completed the changes by replacing Carlton Cole after returning from injury.The game had a pulsating start with both teams trading early shots but neither goalkeeper was forced into a save as both Scott Fraser and then Armstrong aligned their sights in the first 10 minutes with wayward efforts.Armstrong again went close with a curling effort from inside the box after Johansen did well to win a header and set up the winger in the area but it wasn’t long before the Hoops found the back of the net and it came through the club’s leading goal-scorer Griffiths.

The move started with Johansen winning a ball in the air in midfield, which broke to Rogic who carried it forward deep into United territory. The Australian showed good feet to evade a lunging challenge from John Rankin and poke a pass on to Griffiths, who timed his run well to beat the offside trap.Gavin Gunning came across to close the striker down but the defender slipped, opening up space in the box for Griffiths where he showed trademark composure and fired the ball through the keeper’s legs to score his 50th goal for the Hoops on his 60th start.The champions kept up the pressure and a lung-bursting run from
Armstrong down the left then won a free-kick which set up the Bhoys for their second on 27 minutes.Commons took the set-piece and curled a delightful ball into the six yard box where Jozo Simunovic out-jumped Ryan McGowan to head past the stranded Kawashima and score his first goal for the champions.

The Celts looked in complete control but a fine move from the home side soon gave them a lifeline on the half-hour mark.United broke forward from the back and worked the ball to John Souttar in midfield. The defender pushed towards Celtic’s penalty area and threaded a pass through the Hoops defence where Murray gathered and finished past Craig Gordon with the outside of his right boot to give his team hope going into the interval.As the second-half started United committed men forward, going three at the back. The home team threatened with their first attack but the Celts defended well and broke at pace through Johansen, forcing Gunning to drag the Norwegian down for a booking.Commons’ shot from the resultant free-kick was well saved by Kawashima and United came
forward again but Mikael Lustig managed to win the ball on the edge of the Celtic box and launch the counter-attack.

The defender found Rogic in space in midfield before making an overlapping run where he received a return pass from the Aussie midfielder. Lustig then crossed into the box where Commons mistimed his shot but the ball fell kindly to Griffiths, who made no mistake and powered a right-footed shot past Kawashima.The Celts then went three in front through Commons, who atoned for his earlier miss with a wonderful shot at the back post.Good work from Rogic won the ball deep in United’s half to spark the move and he picked out Armstrong, who curled a precise pass to the back post where Commons was waiting, to lash an unstoppable scissor kick past Kawashima.

An excellent tackle from Efe Ambrose on Murray thwarted the United attacker as the home team made strides to get back into the contest but the Celts always looked on top, particularly when the fresh legs of James Forrest and Scott Allan were introduced to play in place of Rogic and Armstrong.There was one down note to the victory as the impressive Kieran Tierney was subbed late on through injury, with Emilio Izaguirre coming on as his replacement.United had a late surge as the match approached its conclusion but Gordon was never truly tested in the Celtic goal and his late saves ensured the Celts left Tannadice as 4-1 winners.

CELTIC (4-2-3-1) Gordon; Lustig, Ambrose, Simunovic, Tierney (Izaguirre 78); McGregor, Johansen; Commons, Rogic (Forrest 60), Armstrong (Allan 69); Griffiths
Not used: Bailly, Ciftci, Cole, O’Connell

DUNDEE UNITED (4-3-3) Kawashima; McGowan, Dillon, Gunning, Dixon; Spittal, Souttar (Paton 81), Rankin; Riski (Dow 64), Murray (Erskine 73), Fraser
Not used: Zwick, Telfer, Spark, Donaldson


91a7e9a03819a1c4d2fc580ee95a721c


Scottish Cup fourth round

Stair Park, Stranraer
Sunday, January 10, 2016

STRANRAER…0
CELTIC…3
(Griffiths 18, 84 Cole 42,)

LEIGH Griffiths bagged a brace and Carlton Cole scored on his first Celtic start of the season as the Hoops marched into the Scottish Cup fifth round with a comfortable 3-0 victory over Stranraer.Griffiths found the net from McGregor’s pass in the 18th minute to put the Bhoys ahead at a packed out Stair Park.As Ronny Deila’s side dominated, Cole headed in number two from Nir Bitton’s cross before the interval.Only the heroics of home goalkeeper Max Currie denied the Scottish champions further reward in the second half, before Griffiths plundered his 22nd goal of the season with six minutes left on the clock.

Celtic will now take their place in Monday’s draw for the next round, with their treble dreams still intact. Cole’s inclusion one of three changes made to the team that defeated Partick Thistle last week 1-0 in the Scottish Premiership.Logan Bailly replaced the suspended Craig Gordon between the sticks, while Griffiths, who came off the bench to score a last-gasp winner against the Jags, was restored to the starting XI after fully recovering from his calf injury. Tom Rogic and Nadir Ciftci were the players to drop out.It took the Scottish champions several minutes to adjust to the muddy pitch and blustery conditions at Stair Park, with Mark McGuigan firing over for the host after a cutback from the left.

But the Hoops gradually started to impose themselves on proceedings, and Cole looked to have been denied a decent penalty shout in the 10th minute when he went down in the box under McGuigan’s challenge after a corner had only been partially cleared.Cole threatened again moments later after he had been picked out by Stefan Johansen in the box, a last-gasp challenge from Scott Rumsby preventing the striker from pulling the trigger.Johansen, finding space breaking forward from midfield, teamed up again with Cole down the inside right channel, but Currie was out quickly to avert the danger. Celtic’s pressure paid off in the 18th minute, however, as Griffiths fired them into the lead. McGregor was the architect, darting in off the left flank and finding the in-form hit-man in the box and he made no mistake, burying a shot in the far corner.

Stranraer, while showing plenty of endeavour, weren’t managing to threaten Bailly, with the visitors dealing ably with any crosses into the box. At the other end, Ronny Deila’s men looked dangerous when they attacked, and Griffiths sent a rasping drive narrowly over from 18 yards after being supplied by McGregor.Cole then fastened onto Commons’ long ball over the top but Currie was to the rescue again for the League One outfit, racing from his line to make a timely tackle. It was increasingly one-way traffic as the half progressed and Celtic increased their dominance of possession. Commons saw a lofted shot tipped over the bar by Currie and Kieran Tierney looked to be felled in the box as he attempted to reach Bitton’s cross, with McGuigan again the offender. As the pressure continued, Currie made a superb double save from Griffiths to leave the Scotland internationalist holding his head in frustration.

Following a lightning counter attack, Commons fed Griffiths, whose right-footed drive was palmed away by Currie and, when Cole knocked the ball back across goal for his strike partner, the Stranraer shot-stopper reacted brilliantly to get his hands to the shot.There was nothing he could, though, to prevent the Hoops doubling their advantage before the break. Bitton made a penetrative burst into the box and clipped the ball back from the byline and Cole rose highest at the far post to meet the cross and score his first goal for the club. The Bhoys were in complete control of the tie but nevertheless they went in search of further reward swiftly after the restart, with McGregor and Commons having shots blocked in quick succession.

Johansen was next to come close. Weaving his way through the middle and leaving several players in his wake, he stabbed the ball under Currie but a goal-line clearance from Scott Robertson denied him a brilliant solo goal.When the ball was chipped back into the mix, Cole’s acrobatic effort was snatched out the air by Currie. Griffiths then let rip from distance, but Currie was well positioned to make the save. Currie was the hero again for the hosts in the 67th minute, pushing over Griffiths’ acrobatic attempt from Bailly’s long clearance. When the resultant corner was only partially cleared, Commons blasted wide.
As Ronny Deila rang the changes in the closing stages, Stranraer got their first glimpse of goal. Steven Bell headed a corner back into the mix and Craig Malcolm was unable to capitalise from close-range, with Bailly gathering the ball on the line.Stung back into action, Celtic spurned further chances to add to their tally as Currie saved from Griffiths and Scott Allan, before Griffiths finally made it 3-0. Sent clear by Allan’s precise pass, he drilled beyond Currie as the away side finished on top

CELTIC (4-4-2) Bailly; Lustig, Ambrose, Simunovic, Tierney (Blackett 76); Commons (Rogic 74), Bitton, Johansen, McGregor, Cole (Allan 69) Griffiths
Not Used: Fasan, Mackay-Steven, O’Connell, Forrest

STRANRAER (4-4-1-1) Currie; Pettigrew, Rumsby, Bell, Dick; McGuigan (Stirling 61), Robertson, Cairney, McCloskey (Gibson 61); Longworth (Thomson 80); Malcolm
Not Used: Brown, Barron, Turner, Nequecaur


4040d870ff040b8193d9dc79bc7fcd51

Scottish Premiership
Celtic Park
Saturday, January 2, 2016

CELTIC…1
(Griffiths 90)
PARTICK THISTLE…0

A LAST-MINUTE strike from substitute Leigh Griffiths gave 10-man Celtic a winning start to 2016 as they triumphed over Partick Thistle 1-0 in the Glasgow Derby at Paradise.Both teams squandered chances in what was an open match, which became frantically end-to-end in the closing stages following Nir Bitton’s dismissal but just as it looked like the year would start with a frustrating stalemate, Griffiths popped up to bag the winner.The Hoops hit-man pounced in the area to convert Kris Commons’ deflected shot with his left foot and sent the Celts fans home happy with a winning start to the New Year by scoring the champions’ 200th goal under Ronny Deila.

The Hoops made just two changes for the match following the 2-2 draw with Hearts in their last outing, with Commons replacing Stuart Armstrong and Efe Ambrose drafted in for the injured Dedryck Boyata.Thistle started the match with real intent, pressing the Celts high in their own half and showing no restraint in the tackle. The teams traded corners in the opening 15 minutes as the Jags forced the Bhoys back while the champions looked dangerous on the counter-attack but neither side could forge a decent chance from the set-pieces.

The early pattern of play continued as the first-half wore on and Thistle almost got rewarded for their early endeavour when Steven Lawless flashed a shot at goal from outside the box but his effort went wide of Craig Gordon’s right hand post.A lung-bursting run forward from Bitton then helped the Celts win a corner but the Hoops couldn’t fashion a chance from the set-piece. They kept the ball in Thistle territory, however, and could have had a penalty when Nadir Ciftci dinked the ball over a robust challenge from Sean Walsh in the box and went down but the Jags were awarded a goal-kick from the incident Celtic were finally in control of proceedings and had a great chance to take the lead when Tomas Cerny spilled McGregor’s cross to the feet of Mikael Lustig in the box but the defender crossed rather than shoot.

Rogic eventually gathered the ball 12 yards out and lashed a volley at goal, which was blocked by Lindsay but claims for a penalty were again waved away.Neat play from Thistle on the edge of the Hoops penalty area saw Callum Booth fire an effort at goal but the shot arched away and the sides went in at half-time level.Celtic replaced Ciftci with Griffiths for the restart and both teams showed much more urgency as the second-half got underway. The Hoops hit-man got instantly involved, rocketing an effort at goal from outside the box but the Thistle defence blocked the shot in a crowded penalty area.The game spilled from end to end as the sides committed men forward for attack.

The Hoops had Lustig to thank as he hooked the ball clear in his own box under pressure from the Thistle forwards before Jozo Simunovic saved the blushes of Ambrose when the Nigerian lost the ball outside his own box.Bitton was then booked as the game took on a scrappy feel, with neither side able to retain possession before Ronny Deila replaced Tom Rogic with James Forrest The champions were then reduced to 10 men with just over 20 minutes left when Bitton was shown a second yellow for an aerial challenge with substitute Gary Miller on the half-way line. The Israeli midfielder looked to have pulled out of the challenge as he jumped to meet a high ball but the Thistle man hit the deck and the referee gave the Hoops star his marching orders.

Gordon then kept the Celts in it with a brilliant one-handed save at his near post to deny Doolan’s shot on the slide as the Jags sought to capitalise on their man advantage.That save inspired the Bhoys to push forward and they had a great chance to take the lead when Johansen set up Griffiths on the edge of the box but his shot was straight at Tomas Cerny, who saved and then did well to gather Forrest’s curling effort.Kieran Tierney’s block on the line then thwarted Danny Seaborne as the Jags defender won a header from a late Thistle corner before the Bhoys then went straight up the park and scored what proved to be the winner.Commons took aim from distance and the Jags defence blocked the shot but Griffiths followed the arch of the ball and slotted home with one touch to break Thistle’s hearts and give the Celts the win they wanted to kick-off 2016.

CELTIC (4-2-3-1) Gordon; Lustig, Ambrose, Simunovic, Tierney; Johansen, Bitton; Commons (Mackay-Steven 90), Rogic (Forrest 64), McGregor; Ciftci (Griffiths 46)Not used: Bailly, Izaguirre, Allan, Cole

PARTICK THISTLE (4-5-1) Cerny; Seaborne, Bannigan (Wilson 90), Booth, Osman; Amoo, Welsh (Pogba 71), Lawless, Dumbuya (Miller 58), Lindsay; Doolan
Not used: Scully, Edwards, Muirhead, Frans


Hearts-vs-Celtic-Prediction-and-Tips

Scottish Premiership
Tynecastle, Edinburgh
Sunday, December 27, 2015

HEARTS…2
(Nicholson 45 + 1, Sow 90))
CELTIC…2
(Bitton 42, Rogic 70)

DESPITE taking the lead twice at Tynecastle, Celtic had to settle for a share of the spoils against Hearts in a captivating contest in the capital.Nir Bitton’s composed finish had put the Hoops in front three minutes before the break, but Sam Nicholson quickly cancelled that out to leave the scores level at the interval. The Bhoys were the better team in the second half and Tom Rogic deservedly put them back into the lead with a sublime strike from the edge of the area.

However, Osman Sow’s deflected free-kick at the death denied them maximum reward, a cruel outcome for Ronny Deila’s side after they had worked so hard to get back into a winning position. Stefan Johansen and Stuart Armstrong were both restored to the starting XI as the manager made two changes to the team that lost to Motherwell last week.
The pair came into the side at the expense of Kris Commons and James Forrest, with the latter named among the substitutes. Nadir Ciftci continued to lead the line up front in the absence of Leigh Griffiths.

Inside the first minute, Callum McGregor won a corner after some positive play down the right as Celtic started with real intent and purpose.Although the resultant set-piece didn’t amount to anything, the Hoops maintained their early momentum as McGregor picked out Ciftci on the edge of the area, with the Turkish striker curling a shot over.Moments later Tom Rogic spotted the run of Ciftci in the box. The former Dundee United man took a touch before bringing out a low save from Neil Alexander.

Rogic was next to try his luck, his drive from distance pushed away by Alexander. The corner count was also mounting up for the visitors, though they were unable to capitalise on these set-piece situations. A Jozo Simunovic header at the far post that was straight at Alexander was their only meaningful effort on target. It took until the 21st minute for Hearts to muster their first shot on goal as Nicholson blazed over from long range.

At the other end, James Forrest, an early replacement for the injured Stuart Armstrong, sent a half-volley over after retrieving Lustig’s cross at the far post.Dedryck Boyata was also forced from the fray just beyond the half-hour mark, with Efe Ambrose coming on to fill the void in central defence.After the Hoops’ early dominance, the home side were now growing into the game. Nicholson saw another shot comfortably saved by Gordon and Celtic’s No.1 then had to make an outstanding reaction stop, clawing away Prince Bauben’s close-range effort.

Gavin Reilly was then to threaten, getting in behind the Celtic backline and seeing his low shot pushed around the post by Gordon.After a Hearts corner had been knocked back into the mix, Igor Rossi saw his header caught by Gordon, before Nicholson was unable to hit the target from an acute angle.But just as Robbie Neilson’s side were enjoying their best spell of the match, Celtic struck. After a mistake by defender Blazej Augustyn, McGregor nodded the ball into Bitton’s path and the Israeli coolly rolled the ball into the far corner.

On the stroke of half-time, however, Hearts levelled the match. Buaben sent a searching cross into the box and Nicholson managed to get in front of Mikael Lustig at the back post to volley home.Ciftci gave early notice of Celtic’s intent to quickly restore their advantage as the second half got underway.Chasing a long ball into the box, he showed superb strength to win possession and hold off a defender, before testing Alexander with an angled drive.

Ronny Deila’s side had now re-established a degree of control on the contest and they fashioned a couple of promising positions down the flanks.And it was from a low cross from Lustig that Johansen came close in the 57th minute, the Norwegian’s powerful first-time attempt flashing wide of the post.Forrest shot wide after cutting inside from the left, before Celtic went ahead for the second time with 20 minutes left on the clock. Lustig’s cross was retrieved by Bitton and he managed to shield the ball and tee-up up Rogic, who sent an unstoppable shot into the net via the underside of the bar.

For all Hearts’ endeavour, they had failed to trouble a resilient Hoops side in the second half, and it was the Bhoys who looked the more likely to find the net on the break.
But in the 90th minute, they were cruelly denied the three points. Substitute Billy King was fouled 30 yards from goal and Sow’s fizzing free-kick took a touch off Gary Mackay-Steven to find the top corner past the stranded Gordon.

CELTIC (4-2-3-1) Gordon; Lustig, Boyata (Ambrose 33) Simunovic, Tierney; Bitton, Johansen; McGregor, Rogic (Mackay-Steven 78) Armstrong (Forrest 21); Ciftci
Not Used: Bailly, Izaguirre, Ambrose, Allan, Cole

HEARTS (4-4-1-1) Alexander; Paterson, Augustyn, Rossi, Oshaniwa; Bauben, Gomis (Zanatta 86) Djoum (Pallardo 62), Nicholson; Reilly (King 80), Sow
Not Used: Hamilton, Ozturk McGhee, Swanson


images


Scottish Premiership
Celtic Park
Saturday, December 19, 2015

CELTIC…1
(Bitton 49)

MOTHERWELL…2
(Moult 53, 59 [pen])

CELTIC rounded off their home fixtures of 2015 with a disappointing 2-1 defeat to Motherwell. After a lacklustre first-half, the game was decided within a frantic 15 minutes in the second period when the Bhoys took the lead before being pegged back quickly by Mark McGhee’s men.

Nir Bitton’s strike took a deflection to go beyond Conor Ripley to open the scoring shortly after the interval but Louis Moult soon levelled the game with a tap-in from Marvin Johnson’s cross.

Disaster then struck as Jozo Simunovic was penalised for a foul on Scott McDonald just inside the box, with Moult confidently stroking home from the spot.

Celtic battered the Motherwell box in a bid to get back into the game but some resolute defending from the Lanarkshire side earned the Steelmen a valuable three points and consigned Ronny Deila’s side to defeat.

There were three changes made to the Celtic team, with Kris Commons, Bitton and Kieran Tierney all returning to the starting line-up following the 3-0 victory over St Johnstone last weekend.

Commons was the most notable inclusion following his recovery from injury as he continues his hunt for 100 goals for the champions, but the game also heralded a landmark moment for Hoops keeper Craig Gordon, who started his 50th league match between the sticks for the Bhoys.

Both teams played some neat football in the opening stages despite the swirling wind and a lunging challenge from former Celt Stephen McManus on Commons brought the first sight of goal for the Bhoys, but Bitton’s curling effort from the set-piece 25 yards out was well off target.

The midfielder then brought out the first save of the game from Conor Ripley with a stinging volley, which the keeper parried to the feet of Nadir Ciftci but the striker was flagged offside as he slotted the ball into the empty net.

Callum McGregor’s vision in midfield combined with Tom Rogic’s good runs were starting to open up the Steelmen but Mark McGhee’s side defended well and still looked threatening on the break, with Simunovic forced to hook Johnson’s low cross out from the six-yard box after a quick break from the visitors on the half-hour mark.

The home side were enjoying all the possession but there was a lack of penetration from the champions as Motherwell sat deep, forcing Celtic to show patience with the game level at half-time.

That changed almost instantly after the restart when Celtic took the lead after Motherwell squandered the chance to do it themselves seconds before.

The visitors switched Liam Grimshaw with Lionel Ainsworth at half-time and the winger forced the ball away from Tierney deep in Celtic territory, but he elected to chip the onrushing Gordon and his effort found the roof of the net.

Ronny Deila’s team then went straight up the pitch and took the lead with Bitton’s deflected shot squirming past the helpless Ripley.

The strike sparked life into the match but Motherwell were soon back level after Moult converted Johnson’s low cross from the left just minutes after going behind.

The match was then turned on its head when Simunovic caught Scott McDonald in the box and the referee pointed to the spot. Moult stepped up and stroked the ball calmly down the middle of the goal to put Motherwell 2-1 up.

The Celts sought an instant reply but almost went further behind when Dedryck Boyata stumbled in the box under pressure from McDonald, allowing the striker to work the ball free but Gordon came off his line quickly to block.

The Steelmen kept up the pressure but Ronny Deila made two changes with Scott Allan replacing James Forrest and Carlton Cole coming on for Rogic to make his home debut.

The Bhoys flooded forward in search of the equaliser as the visitors retreated to their 18-yard box but they struggled to prise open the Motherwell defence, despite bombarding the Lanarkshire team with crosses from wide and deep.

The champions swarmed in and around the Motherwell penalty box as crosses rained down from Tierney, but it was always a visiting defender who managed to get a head on it to clear the danger and the match finished in a frustrating defeat.

CELTIC (4-2-3-1) Gordon; Lustig, Boyata, Simunovic, Tierney; Bitton, McGregor; Commons, Rogic (Cole 74), Forrest (Allan 68); Ciftci.
Not used: Fasan, Ambrose, Izaguirre, Johansen, Armstrong,

MOTHERWELL (4-4-2) Ripley; Hammell, McManus (Laing 77), Hall, Law; Grimshaw (Ainsworth 46, Watt 81), Pearson, Johnson, Lasley; Moult, McDonald.Not used: Samson, Clarkson, Thomas, McFadden,



 Scottish Premiership
McDiarmid Park, Perth
Sunday, December 13, 2015

ST JOHNSTONE…0
CELTIC…3
(Ciftci 35, 67, Boyata 49)

NADIR Ciftci’s deadly double helped Celtic overcome a stubborn St Johnstone 3-0 at McDiarmid Park to restore their lead at the top of the table back to four points,After both sides had come close to opening the scoring in freezing conditions in Perth, the Hoops hit-man lashed in from Callum McGregor’s corner to put the Bhoys in front before the interval.

Dedryck Boyata headed powerfully home from another McGregor corner early in the second half to put the champions in charge.And Ciftci sealed the victory in the second half, converting from Mikael Lustig’s pinpoint cross, ensuring Ronny Deila’s side could see out the closing stages in comfort.

The win cements Celtic’s position at the league summit, and they still hold a game in hand over second-placed Aberdeen.The manager had made three changes to the team that fought back to draw with Fenerbahce in the UEFA Europa League on Thursday night, with Emilio Izaguirre, James Forrest and Tom Rogic coming into the starting XI at the expense of Kieran Tierney, Nir Bitton and Scott Allan.

St Johnstone came into the game on the back of a seven-game unbeaten run, and they were full of vigour and confidence straight from the kick off, carving out a golden chance inside the opening 60 seconds.Steven MacLean’s lofted pass put Michael O’Halloran in the clear but Craig Gordon came to Celtic’s rescue, blocking the in-form forward’s shot, with the loose ball going behind.

The resultant corner was won at the far post by Joe Shaughnessy but his header took a touch off Murray Davidson, allowing Gordon to gratefully scoop the ball up.Rogic replied for the Bhoys in the seventh minute with low attempt from distance, having cut inside onto his favoured left foot, but it was straight at Alan Mannus.Liam Craig tried his luck from distance, before Celtic fashioned their first meaningful chance in the 27th minute with a slick passing move.

After receiving a pass from McGregor, Rogic turned his man before sending a delightful reverse ball through for Ciftci. Although the striker hit the target, Mannus managed to divert his low effort round the post.
And 10 minutes before the interval, the Hoops broke the deadlock. After Lustig’s long-range shot had been deflected wide, McGregor’s corner fell for Ciftci at the far post. He instantly controlled the ball, before slamming home.

Buoyed by their goal, Celtic went in search for a quick-fire second and Mannus had to be alert to push Boyata’s header away from Stuart Armstrong’s corner.But Tommy Wright’s men mounted a spirited response to going behind as they pressed for an equaliser before half-time – Craig shot over, Gordon saved from Murray Davidson, Steven Anderson headed wide and then O’Halloran failed to find the target after speeding away from Jozo Simunovic.

However, the visitors held firm, giving them a precious lead for the start of the second period, one they swiftly doubled. Again the goal came from a set-piece, with McGregor’s corner being met by Boyata who bulleted a header beyond Mannus.There was another good reply from the hosts, with Brian Easton sending a thunderous shot from 30 yards crashing off the post – but Celtic were now looking increasingly menacing when they ventured forward.

Rogic had a golden chance to find the net after Izaguirre had picked him out from the byline but he failed to make a clean connection.Dave Mackay looped a header wide from 18 yards, before Celtic threatened again from a corner as Forrest and Armstrong both had shots blocked, with the ball ricocheting around the box. Another corner was the eventual result.

Midway through the half, Ronny Deila’s men made it 3-0. Lustig overlapped on the right and delivered a delightful delivery, leaving Ciftci with the simple task of heading in from close range.Celtic ended the contest playing with real confidence, spraying the passes around the pitch, and Forrest , Commons and McGregor had further attempts to increase their tally as the clock ticked down.

CELTIC (4-2-3-1) Gordon; Lustig, Boyata, Simunovic, Izaguirre; McGregor, Johansen; Forrest, Rogic (Cole 81), Armstrong (Commons 71); Ciftci (Allan 89)Not Used: Bailly, Ambrose, Tierney, Mackay-Steven

ST JOHNSTONE (4-4-2) Mannus; Shaughnessy, Mackay, Anderson, Easton; Wotherspoon, Millar (Caddis 34), Davidson, Craig; O’Halloran, MacLean (Kane 81)Not Used: Clark, Scobbie, Sutton, McKay, Thomson


1364025291972



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

FENERBAHCE…1
(Markovic 39’)
CELTIC…1
(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); Ciftci
Not 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, Civelek


20140823_inv_celtic_1_ts_20140823_141829_642


Scottish Premiership
Sunday, November 29, 2015
Tulloch Caledonian Stadium

INVERNESS CALEY THISTLE…1
(Storey 39)
CELTIC…3
(McGregor 7, Griffiths 59, Devine o.g. 85)

LEIGH Griffiths’ second-half strike and a late own goal from Danny Devine saw Celtic earn a hard-fought win in the Highlands over Inverness Caley Thistle to extend their league at the top of the table to seven points.Callum McGregor’s early opener had been cancelled out by Miles Storey before half-time, but Griffiths put the Hoops back in the driving seat with his 19th goal of the season.As the game entered its closing stages, debutant Carlton Cole, on as a second-half substitute, was first to the rebound when Griffiths’ rasping drive had been parried by goalkeeper Owain Fon Williams, with the ball eventually trickling into the net off the unfortunate Devine.

It wasn’t the prettiest of goals, but that would have mattered little to the jubilant travelling support or Ronny Deila, who will be satisfied to see his side bounce back to winning ways after the UEFA Europa League defeat to Ajax on Thursday night and last weekend’s draw with Kilmarnock. Nir Bitton and Stefan Johansen returned to the starting XI, having been suspended for meeting with the Dutch giants, the manager’s only two changes from the team that took on the Amsterdam outfit. After impressing and scoring against Ajax, McGregor retained his place in midfield, and the 22-year-old justified his re-selection when he opened the scoring in the seventh minute with an exquisite finish.

Bursting through the middle following a swift counter Celtic attack, he took aim from 25 yards and sent a crisp shot into the far corner beyond Fon Williams, much to the delight of the Hoops faithful, who had endured a long journey north in treacherous weather.However, the home side almost restored parity within a few minutes as Gary Warren headed a corner powerfully on target but, thankfully for the Hoops, it smashed straight into the chest of Craig Gordon. The loose ball was collected by Josh Meekings, who curled wide of the far post.From a dead-ball delivery at the other end, Mikael Lustig then spurned the chance to increase Celtic’s advantage as he headed over when in space from McGregor’s corner.

With a swirling wind and difficult underfoot conditions, set-pieces looked the most likely route for profit for both teams. Gordon had to punch clear a couple of threatening corners, before Jozo Simunovic looped a header over from Stuart Armstrong’s cross.Aside from that, there were little chances of note for the Bhoys until Griffiths suddenly burst to life in the box, cutting inside onto his trusty left-foot from the right, but Warren was over quickly to charge his shot down.As half-time approached John Hughes’ side restored parity. Liam Polworth released Storey and his pace took him clear of Dedryck Boyata and Jozo Simunoivic.

Although Gordon saved the forward’s initial effort, he slotted home the rebound.Bitton almost restored the champions’ advantage just before the break, his dipping drive from distance flashing wide, leaving the match evenly poised as the second half got underway.Although Ronny Deila’s side were having the bulk of possession, it was the Caley Jags who had first sight of goal when Ross Draper guided a header wide moments after Kieran Tierney had blocked James Vincent’s shot.But, with Celtic struggling to fashion openings, Griffiths underlined his predatory instincts by putting the Hoops back in front with a close-range clinical finish. Substitute Scott Allan released Tierney on the left and his cut-back was met first-time by the striker on the six-yard line, and he made no mistake.

Carlton Cole then entered the fray in place of Tom Rogic to make his Celtic bow and the new Bhoy almost had the dream start, his downward header from McGregor’s cross being tipped over the bar by Fon Williams. Celtic were defending resolutely, comfortably repelling the home side’s advances as they sought a second leveller, though Johansen had to be alert to clear a corner off the line after it had ricocheted off Mikael Lustig.And Devine’s own goal, with Cole heavily involved, allowed them to see out the closing minutes with comfort and bank maximum reward.

CELTIC (4-2-3-1) Gordon; Lustig, Boyata, Simunovic, Tierney; Bitton, Johansen; McGregor, Rogic (Cole 60) Armstrong (Allan 55); Griffiths (Mackay-Steven 90+1)
Not Used: Bailly, Izaguirre, Ambrose, Ciftci

INVERNESS CALEY THISTLE (4-2-3-1) Fon Williams; Meekings, Warren, Devine, Williams; Tansey, Draper; Polworth, Vincent (Sho-Silva 74), Vigurs (Mutombo 74); Storey
Not Used: Esson, Raven, Wedderburn, Horner,


images (1)

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

CELTIC…1
(McGregor 3)
AJAX…2
(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


CUUwfkWWcAEfAB3

SPFL Premiership
Celtic Park, Glasgow
Saturday, November 21, 2015

CELTIC…0
KILMARNOCK…0

CELTIC were held to a goal-less draw against Kilmarnock at Paradise today but retained their six-point lead at the top of the SPFL Premiership after Hearts also drew 1-1 with Dundee at Tynecastle.Ronny Deila’s side were full of endeavour and attacking intent all afternoon but Killie’s defensive set-up proved too difficult to breakdown despite the Bhoys’ best efforts.James Forrest was a constant menace on the wings as Celtic controlled the game but Jamie MacDonald was solid in the visitors’ goal and was on hand to deny Dedryck Boyata in the dying seconds to earn his side a point.It was a disappointing afternoon for the champions who now look ahead to Thursday’s clash against Ajax in the UEFA Europa League.

Celtic captain Scott Brown returned for the match after missing the previous four fixtures and anchored the midfield alongside Nir Bitton. Jozo Simunovic also made a welcome return from injury to replace Efe Ambrose in central defence.The match was preceded by an impeccably-observed minute’s silence in memory of those who lost their lives in the Paris attacks last week, followed by a rendition of You’ll Never Walk Alone from the Celtic support.The Bhoys opened the match brightly and on the front foot as they tried to establish their passing style early on. Both Forrest and Stuart Armstrong looked sprightly in the early stages but Kilmarnock’s well-drilled defence snuffed out their threat.

Boyata won the first sight of goal for the Celts with a header at the back post which Scott Robinson cleared off the line but the Belgian defender was adjudged to have committed a foul in the process.Leigh Griffiths showed his attacking intent just after 15 minutes when he did well to reach a searching pass from Mikael Lustig and control in the area, but the Killie defence pressured him off the ball and into a weak shot.Josh Magennis then clipped a wayward header towards Gordon’s goal on a Kilmarnock counter-attack as the game opened up.Magennis was then booked for a bad tackle on Brown, crashing in on the captain’s ankle before Higginbotham was also given a verbal warning after he clattered into the skipper but he escaped punishment, with the referee drawing the crowd’s ire, and not for the first time.

Celtic continued to push forward and tested the Killie keeper with a shot from Griffiths after good play from Rogic but the striker’s effort was straight down MacDonald’s throat.
The keeper was then forced to act quickly to smother a flick-on from Simunovic at his near post as the champions pushed for the opener but they remained frustrated at half-time with the score at 0-0.Celtic sought to change that instantly at the restart when Rogic drew a foul from Steven Smith, allowing Griffiths to curl an effort at goal from the set-piece but MacDonald did well to turn the ball away at full stretch.Scott Brown then looked to have been fouled in the box but the referee again waved away Celtic’s protests.

Forrest had resumed his role as principle creator for the Bhoys as the champions played with more urgency but his direct running and cut-backs couldn’t prise open the visitors’ defence.Gary Mackay-Steven was introduced to play with 30 minutes left to inject further pace into the attack and he too had a strong claim for a penalty waved away when he gathered a ball in the box and looked to be clipped as he moved towards goal before Smith also scythed down Rogic as he went to shoot, but nothing was awarded for either incident.
Nadir Ciftci replaced Rogic with 20 minutes left as the Celts beefed up their attack in a bid to break down Kilmarnock’s resistance and Mackay-Steven went close with a shot from distance, but again it came to nothing.

A rare venture forward saw Killie substitute Greg Kiltie force a great save from Craig Gordon from distance before the Hoops keeper saved Magennis’ header from the resultant corner and put the Bhoys back on the attack.Scott Allan came on in the dying minutes, replacing Emilio Izaguirre but there was little the attacker could do to affect proceedings and the champions were forced to settle for a share of the points, despite Boyata crashing a header off the bar in stoppage time.

CELTIC (4-2-3-1) Gordon; Lustig, Boyata, Simunovic, Izaguirre (Allan 84); Brown, Bitton; Forrest, Rogic (Ciftci 71), Armstrong (Mackay-Steven 59); Griffiths.
Not used: Bailly, Ambrose, Tierney, McGregor

KILMARNOCK (4-5-1) MacDonald; McHattie, Balatoni, Connolly, O’Hara; Obadeyi, Smith, Higginbotham (Hamill 88), Robinson, McKenzie (Kiltie 41); Magennis.
Not used: Ridgers, Boyd, Ashcroft, Slater, Carrick


county-v-celtic1


Scottish Premiership
Global Energy Stadium, Dingwall
Sunday, November 8, 2015

ROSS COUNTY…1
(Dingwall 59)
CELTIC…4
(Rogic 38, Griffiths 54, 56, Bitton 75)

LEIGH Griffiths moved onto 18 goals for the season after notching a quick-fire double as Celtic swept to an emphatic 4-1 victory away to Ross County.A sublime strike from Tom Rogic seven minutes before the interval broke the deadlock in the Highlands.
The prolific Griffiths then struck twice in the space of three minutes early in the second half as the Hoops underlined their dominance.Although the home side reduced arrears through Tony Dingwall, Nir Bitton’s looping header sealed the spoils for the Bhoys to restore their six-point lead at the top of the table.

Ronny Deila made three changes to the team that took on Molde in the UEFA Europa League match on Thursday night. Emilio Izaguirre, Efe Ambrose and James Forrest came back into the starting XI at the expense of Jozo Simunovic, Kieran Tierney and Kris Commons. Teenager Tierney, so impressive against the Norwegian side, was named among the substitutes, alongside new signing Carlton Cole.The rain had been pounding the pitch at the Global Energy Stadium for several hours prior to kick-off and it was Celtic who made the more positive start on the slick surface, moving the ball around at pace and probing for openings.

Aside from a long-range Stuart Armstrong shot that flew wide, however, they failed to fashion a clear sight of goal in the opening exchanges.In fact, it was the home side who carved out the first meaningful chance as Liam Boyce headed wide when well placed from Richard Foster’s cross. The Hoops responded with an effort from the lively Forrest that flashed wide.With Jim McIntyre’s side well organised and compact, Celtic were struggling to plot a route to goal. Bitton and Rogic tried their luck from distance but failed to find the target, before Griffiths had a shot blocked in the box after purposeful play from Armstrong.

Although the visitors were dominating possession, County still posed a threat at the other end, with captain Martin Woods failing to make a clean connection when picked out at the far post by Ian McShane’s corner.Griffiths had a couple of ambitious efforts charged down as Ronny Deila’s side persevered in their quest, despite the hosts’ resilient rearguard action. It took a moment of individual brilliance from Rogic to break their resistance.
Collecting a pass around 30 yards from goal, the Australian internationalist skilfully evaded the clutches of Martin Woods before lashing a shot into the top corner from the edge of the area, sparking delirium amongst the travelling support.

Stefan Johansen had an effort deflected into the arms of Gary Woods, while Rogic threatened with another piercing run as the Hoops sought further reward before the interval.But had former Celt Jackson Irvine not miscued his shot when the ball landed invitingly for him in the box, they could have gone in at the break on parity.County delivered another reminder that there was plenty of life left in his match within moments of the restart as McShane found space in the area but was unable to keep the ball under control.

That stung the Bhoys back into action and Gary Woods had to come to his side’s rescue as he made a smart stop from Griffiths’ close-range effort after he had seized upon Izaguirre’s hanging cross.However, there was nothing the shot-stopper could do to prevent the in-form Griffiths from finding the net a few minutes later. Bitton picked out the striker lurking on the edge of the box and he danced away from Scott Boyd and another challenge before clinically finding the far corner.Moments later he made it 3-0 thanks to a fantastic piece of wing-play from Forrest. Accelerating down the right, he hit the byline and found Griffiths at the far post, and the forward swept home.

The impressive Forrest then dribbled his way into the box but dragged a shot wide as the Hoops threatened to inflict further punishment.The Highlanders gave themselves a glimpse of hope when Dingwall fired home inside the box just before the hour-mark, and that was the cue for them to enjoy their best spell of the match, with Gordon making an outstanding save from substitute Alex Schalk’s header.But as County committed more men forward, it gave Celtic the space to exploit on the counter attack, and Forrest, Rogic and Griffiths all had shots as the game became more stretched.

With 15 minutes left on the clock, Celtic finally put the game beyond doubt as Bitton planted a header in the far corner from Armstrong’s corner.And only some decent saves from Gary Woods in closing stages from Armstrong and Callum McGregor prevented the hosts going down to a heavier defeat as the champions eased to a deserved three points.

CELTIC (4-2-3-1) Gordon; Lustig, Boyata, Ambrose, Izaguirre; Bitton, Johansen (Mackay-Steven 71); Forrest, Rogic (McGregor 80), Armstrong; Griffiths (Ciftci 80)
Not Used: Bailly, Tierney, Allan, Cole

ROSS COUNTY (4-1-4-1) Woods; Fraser, Robertson, Boyd, Foster; Woods; Gardyne, Irvine (Murdoch 78), McShane (Curran 59), Dingwall; Boyce (Schalk 67)
Not Used: Severn, Franks, De Vita, Holden


images


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

CELTIC…1
(Commons 26)
MOLDE…2
(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


celticvaberdeen


Scottish Premiership
Celtic Park, Glasgow
Saturday, October 31, 2015

CELTIC…3
(Griffiths 44, 53, Forrest 60)
ABERDEEN…1
(Rooney 89)

A DEADLY double from the in-form Leigh Griffiths helped Celtic impressively brush aside second-placed Aberdeen 3-1 in Paradise, extending their lead at the league summit to seven points.The striker’s superb header on the stroke of half-time put the Hoops in charge and he quickly doubled the advantage from the penalty spot after Ash Taylor had taken out Kris Commons.James Forrest made it 3-0 after a purposeful run through the
middle from the excellent Tom Rogic, and the champions had further opportunities to add to their tally as they cut the visitors open time and time again.

Adam Rooney headed in a late consolation for the Dons from a free-kick, but it couldn’t take the gloss off a dazzling Celtic display. Kieran Tierney returned to the starting XI as Ronny Deila made two changes to the side that dispatched Hearts in the League Cup quarter-finals on Wednesday night. The 18-year-old lined up in the left-back berth in place of Emilio Izaguirre, who was named on the bench.Having impressed as a substitute in the win at Tynecastle, Rogic was also restored to the side at the expense of Stuart Armstrong. In the absence of the injured Scott Brown, Mikael Lustig continued to don the captain’s armband.Notwithstanding a blocked Griffiths shot, there was little incident of note in the
opening exchanges as both teams settled into their stride.

Celtic, however, exploded into life in the 10th minute, with Taylor forced into a vital clearing header to prevent Griffiths from connecting with Lustig’s inviting cross.Rogic had been involved in fashioning that chance and the Australian was to the fore again moments later, finding Griffiths, who sent an opportunistic shot wide of the far post.The Hoops were beginning to piece their passes together and another swift breakaway saw Rogic fouled on the halfway line. Referee Willie Collum played the advantage as the attack continued and Forrest saw his shot deflected behind.When the resultant corner was only partially cleared, Rogic thundered in a shot that ricocheted around the Aberdeen area, with Celtic’s claims of handball in vain.

Rooney had the visitors’ first sight of goal in the 16th minute, the Irishman flicking Niall McGinn’s low cross from the right over the bar, but in the main, the Dons were content to defend in depth and hit on the break through the pace of McGinn and Jonny Hayes.And after Lustig’s cross had flashed just behind the onrushing Commons, the away side broke
quickly through Hayes down the left with Rooney eventually shooting over.Forrest had a shot deflected wide, before Rooney had a goal disallowed for offside following an Aberdeen free-kick as the game became more stretched.

Derek McInnes’ side had goalkeeper Danny Ward to thank in the 28th minute for maintaining parity, however. Commons smuggled a ball through to Griffiths inside the box, and the striker’s close-range effort was turned over the shot-stopper when it looked like a goal was guaranteed. Celtic had another penalty claim waved away as Tierney’s cross looked to strike Shay Logan’s hand, but a corner was their only reward. Griffiths’ low centre was then diverted into Ward’s hands by his own team-mate, substitute Paul Quinn, who had earlier replaced the injured Andrew Considine.At the other end, Rooney spurned a good opportunity for the Pittodrie side, heading wide after good work by Hayes on the left.

But as half-time drew closer, it was the home who began to dominate. The Bhoys had forced a raft of corners but the closest they had come to profiting from these situations was a hooked shot from Jozo Simunovic that spun wide.However, Dedryck Boyata nearly found a way through from Commons’ hanging dead-ball delivery six minutes before the break, his looping header touched onto the underside of the bar by Kenny McLean, before the ball was hurriedly cleared.

Celtic were now piling on the pressure. Lustig intercepted a clearance down the right and his cutback was blasted over by Griffiths. The hit-man’s persistence was rewarded seconds later, though.Tierney delivered a searching cross into the box from the left and Griffiths leapt brilliantly above two defenders to guide a tremendous header inside the post for his 15th goal of the season.Rogic still had time to flash a shot wide before the whistle sounded for the interval as the Hoops headed down the tunnel in high spirits.Now in top gear, the champions were in no mood to take their feet off the gas as the second period got underway.

The impressive Rogic had a stinging shot saved by Ward, before Commons fired wide after the ball had dropped invitingly for him in the box.Goal number two soon arrived. Breaking down the right, Griffiths picked out Commons on the opposite flank. As the 32-year-old flicked the ball inside Taylor, he was crudely taken out by the Dons defender and referee Collum pointed the spot. Griffiths stepped up and confidently drilled the ball into the corner for his 16th goal of the season.

Commons was becoming more of a menace and he blasted over after being set free down the right as the visitors struggled to stem the tide.On the hour-mark, Forrest inflicted further punishment. Rogic, a constant thorn in the Aberdeen rearguard, cut a path through the middle and found the winger, who steered a shot beyond Ward. The Hoops were now in full flow: Commons chipped wide, Griffiths saw a dipping drive tipped over by Ward and substitute Stuart Armstrong was off target from distance. Armstrong, who had replaced Forrest, was denied by an excellent save from Ward after superb set-up play from Rogic.

The former Dundee United man’s frustrations continued as his curling effort drifted inches wide of the far post as the Bhoys continued to run amok.Griffiths had the chance to grab a treble as huge gaps opened up in the Dons backline, but he failed to beat Ward. His opposite number, Craig Gordon, had been well-protected by his defenders but he produced a stunning save to keep out David Goodwillie’s header.Armstrong and Rogic had further attempts prior to Rooney’s late consolation for the Pittdodrie side, which couldn’t dampen the delight of the Celtic support at the final whistle as they saluted a polished performance from their team.

CELTIC (4-2-3-1) Gordon; Lustig, Boyata, Simunovic (Ambrose 78), Tierney (Izaguirre 78); Johansen, Bitton; Commons, Rogic, Forrest (Armstrong 70); Griffiths
Not Used: Bailly, McGregor, Allan, Ciftci

ABERDEEN (4-2-3-1) Ward; Logan, Taylor, Reynolds, Considine (Quinn 23); Jack (Pawlett 69), Shinnie; McGinn (Goodwillie 69), McLean, Hayes; Rooney
Not Used: Brown, Flood, Robson, McLaughlin


HEARTSvCELTIC


Scottish League Cup quarter-final
Tynecastle, Edinburgh
Wednesday, October 28, 2015

HEARTS…1
(Djoum 90+2)
CELTIC…2
(Griffiths 70, Rogic 80)

LATE strikes from Leigh Griffiths and Tom Rogic sent Celtic into the semi-finals of the Scottish League Cup after they overcame Hearts 2-1 at Tynecastle.The Bhoys had been frustrated for much of the game with the home side soaking up waves of pressure and playing on the counter-attack, but Edinburgh-born hit-man Griffiths finally broke the deadlock with 20 minutes left with a wonderful solo run and finish in the box.Robbie Neilson’s side came forward as they desperately tried to claw their way back into the game, but that opened up more space for the Celts and they doubled their advantage 10 minutes later when Griffiths squeezed the ball under Neil Alexander from a tight angle, allowing Rogic to deftly flick it over the line and seal the victory.

A late header from Arnaud Djoum gave Hearts hope at the death but it was too little too late for the home side, and the Celts will now go into Monday’s draw where they will discover their opponents in the final four.Celtic made three changes to the starting XI for the trip to the capital, with Mikael Lustig, Emilio Izaguirre and Nir Bitton all returning to the team in place of Efe Ambrose, Kieran Tierney and Gary Mackay-Steven.However, captain Scott Brown pulled up during the warm-up and was replaced in the starting XI before kick-off by James Forrest. Gary Mackay-Steven also pulled out of the squad following the warm-up and was replaced on the bench by Callum McGregor, with Tyler Blackett stepping in to fill the spot left by Forrest.

The match was preceded by heavy rainstorms but the weather improved before kick-off, making the surface perfectly zippy for Celtic’s quick passing style.Both teams started brightly, with Juanma Delgado and Osman Sow testing the Celtic backline early on with some good combination play but the Hoops soon began to settle and take control.
Forrest’s inclusion gave the Bhoys an injection of pace down the right and he went close with a shot from distance from Celtic’s first corner but the referee blew for an infringement on the line.Stuart Armstrong was lively on the other wing, harrying Blazej Augustyn and winning a spate of early corners but the Hoops couldn’t carve out a goal-scoring chance from the attacker’s good play.

The match settled into a steady rhythm midway through the first-half with the Celts largely in control of the ball but resilient defending from the home side limited them chances going forward.Robbie Neilson’s side were solid at the back, soaking up the Celtic pressure before springing their own attacks on the counter.The more bodies the Hoops threw forward to support their attacks the more space was left at the back for Hearts forwards to exploit on the counter attack, with Billy King and Sam Nicholson the main architects for the home team on the break.

The best chance of the half for the Bhoys came just before half-time when a flash of quick passing allowed Forrest to fire in a low cross from the right but neither Armstrong or Kris Commons could get on the end of the delivery and the teams went in at the break level.
Play retained the look of the first-half after the interval with Celtic controlling possession and Hearts looking dangerous on the break.The Bhoys switched their approach by mixing their short passing build-up play with long balls up to Griffiths but the close marking of the towering Hearts defence made it difficult for the striker to win the aerial battles.

Ronny Deila then replaced Forrest with Tom Rogic and the Australian got straight into the action, weaving his way through the Hearts defence but his shot screwed wide of the goal.
Hearts then thought they had taken the lead when the ball was poked over the line by Sow from Nicholson’s deep free-kick but the offside flag was rightly raised and the Celts breathed a sigh of relief.That scare sparked the Hoops back into life and they came forward in waves, with Griffiths and Commons both having shots at goal before McGhee did well to clear Armstrong’s low cross off the line after Alexander failed to gather it.

The pressure finally paid off for the Bhoys moments later, however, when a brilliant solo run and finish from Griffiths broke the deadlock.The striker picked up the ball 30 yards out and drove at goal, jinking in and out of two challenges before opening his body up inside the area and curling a composed shot beyond Alexander.The striker then helped the Bhoys double their lead 10 minutes later when he gathered the ball in the right of the box and squeezed it under Alexander, allowing Rogic to flick it over the line unmarked and seal the victory.Lustig could have added further to the lead when he did well to meet a free-kick from the left but sent his header wide of goal.Substitute Djoum found the back of the net for the home side in added time with a powerful header in the box but it was not enough to get the Jambos back into the game and Celtic headed back to Glasgow as victors and into Monday’s draw for the last four.

CELTIC (4-2-3-1) Gordon; Lustig, Boyata, Simunovic, Izaguirre; Bitton, Johansen; Forrest (Rogic 59), Commons, Armstrong; Griffiths (Ciftci 80)
Not used: Bailly, Ambrose, Tierney, Blackett, McGregor

HEARTS (4-4-2) Alexander; Paterson, Augustyn, Rossi, McGhee; Nicholson, Buaben (Djoum 79), Gomis, King (Walker 52); Sow, Juanma (Reilly 87)
Not used: Hamilton, Swanson, Smith, Zanatta


_46371612_celtic_dutd_poster


SPFL Premiership
Celtic Park, Glasgow
Sunday, October 25, 2015

CELTIC…5
(Griffiths 23, Boyata 40, Commons 45, 53, Brown 90)
DUNDEE UNITED…0

CELTIC extended their lead at the top of the SPFL Premiership to four points with a dominant 5-0 victory over Dundee United at Paradise.The champions controlled proceedings from the start and were head and shoulders above the team from Tayside, who provided little in the way of attacking threat all afternoon.Steady traffic towards United’s goal in the first-half eventually brought the opener when Leigh Griffiths knocked the ball away from Luis Zwick and slipped it under the keeper from a tight angle on 23 minutes.

Dedryck Boyata’s header put the Bhoys in a comfortable 2-0 lead before Kris Commons made it 3-0 from the penalty spot after the impressive Kieran Tierney was felled in the box.Commons bagged a double with a fine finish early in the second-half before captain Scott Brown rounded off a stunning display with an equally stunning solo goal in the final minute to ensure all three points stayed at Celtic Park and rounded off a commanding afternoon for the Hoops.

Ronny Deila made three changes for the visit of Dundee United following the disappointing 3-1 defeat to Molde in the UEFA Europa League on Thursday, allowing Croatian defender Jozo Simunovic to make his home debut for the Bhoys. Tierney and Gary Mackay-Steven were also drafted into the starting XI in place of Emilio Izaguirre and Nir Bitton.Celtic took the game to United straight from the first whistle with Commons firing in the first shot on target after he was picked out by Boyata.

Mackay-Steven and Stuart Armstrong also saw efforts deflected wide inside the opening 10 minutes as the Celts pushed the visitors back early on.The one-way traffic continued as the game wore on but it was a piece of individual skill from striker Leigh Griffiths which eventually opened the scoring on 23 minutes.The forward made a darting run into the box to meet Scott Brown’s through ball and just when the chance seemed lost, he managed to flick the ball away from Zwick’s body inside the six-yard box and squeeze a low shot under the keeper from a narrow angle to make it 1-0 to the Celts.

The goal forced United out of their own half for a rare attack and they were gifted a chance to shoot when Ambrose misplaced a pass along his 18-yard box but John Rankin’s effort was well off target.Normal order then resumed with Celtic dominant in possession and United camped just outside their and it wasn’t long before the floodgates opened and the scoring continued.Celtic’s second came when Tierney won a free-kick for the Bhoys with five minutes left of the first-half. Armstrong took the set-piece and curled in a dangerous ball into the six-yard area where Boyata out-jumped his marker and glanced a header into the far corner to double the advantage before the interval.

The Hoops were in full flow and had the chance to add to their lead on the stroke of half-time when Tierney was clipped in the box, leading to a Celtic penalty.Commons took the honours and smashed an unstoppable effort to Zwick’s left, giving the Bhoys the commanding 3-0 lead their dominance deserved at half-time.The teams had barely kicked-off for the second-half when Mackay-Steven fired a shot off the post from 20 yards, signalling Celtic’s intent as they came out the blocks flying.

A wonderful passage of play from the Hoops then carved open the United defence again for Armstrong to shoot but he sliced his effort wide from inside the box.United then created their first decent chance from the game when Charlie Telfer got a shot in on target from 20 yards but it was a weak effort and was saved easily by Craig Gordon.The Hoops went straight on the attack and won a corner on the right, which led to the fourth goal and Commons’ second of the afternoon.

The playmaker swung in a hanging cross from the set-piece which was only half-cleared by the visiting defence and ended up back at the feet of the Celtic star inside the box.
He dropped his shoulder to go inside but instantly cut back out and rattled a brilliant shot into the far corner with his left foot to make it 4-0 to the champions.Relentless waves of pressure continued to pile down on United’s goal, with Stefan Johansen, Mackay-Steven, Commons and Tierney all going close to adding to the lead but Commons’ chance of a hat-trick came to an end when he was replaced by Tom Rogic.

Nadir Ciftci also replaced Leigh Griffiths as the Celts continued to flow forward as the clock ticked down, but it was debutant Simunovic who went closest to getting the fifth when he let rip with a powerful shot from distance that called Zwick into his best save of the afternoon.The goal of the afternoon was saved for Scott Brown, however, who made it five with a powerful and tricky run down the left which he finished off with a cool step-over and near-post finish off Aaron Kuhl to cap-off an excellent performance from the champions.

CELTIC (4-2-3-1) Gordon; Ambrose, Boyata, Simunovic, Tierney; Brown, Johansen; Mackay-Steven, Commons (Rogic 65), Armstrong (McGregor 73); Griffiths (Ciftci 65)
Not used: Bailly, Blackett, Lustig, Bitton

DUNDEE UNITED (4-5-1) Zwick; McGowan, Durnan, Souttar, Dillon; Fraser (Connolly 90), Kuhl, Rankin, Telfer (Murray 66), Bodul (Taggart 55); McKay
Not used: Szromnik, Donaldson, Souttar H, Robson


vegard-forren-goal-celeb-molde-celtic-uefa-europa-league_3367198


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

MOLDE…3
(Kamara 11, Forren 18, Elyounoussi 56)
CELTIC…1
(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


motherwell_vs_celtic


Scottish Premiership
Fir Park, Motherwell
Saturday, October 17, 2015

MOTHERWELL…0
CELTIC…1
(Ciftci 15)

NADIR Ciftci’s first-half goal was enough to seal a 1-0 victory over Motherwell at Fir Park and send Celtic top of the table for the first time since the end of August.The Turkish striker coolly converted from the rebound after Kris Commons’ volley had been parried by goalkeeper Connor Ripley.And, despite not adding to their tally throughout the remainder of the contest, the Hoops never looked in danger of relinquishing their lead, with Craig Gordon a virtual spectator.Having fully recovered from injury, Stuart Armstrong returned to the Celtic starting XI for the first time since the defeat to Malmo in Sweden as Ronny Deila made three changes to the team that defeated Hamilton before the international break.

Deployed on the left an attacking midfield triumvirate, the 23-year-old came into the side at the expense of James Forrest who had picked up a knock on international duty.Leigh Griffiths had also sustained an injury while representing Scotland but he had recovered sufficiently to take a place on the bench, with Ciftci taking his place as the lone striker. Efe Ambrose replaced Saidy Janko at right-back.Celtic took control from the kick off, dominating possession and keeping the home side camped deep in their own territory. Ciftci had a shot from 20 yards deflected wide in the fourth minute, before Armstrong lashed wide after darting inside from the left as the Hoops’ quick-passing game started to pay dividends.

Armstrong had looked lively on his return, linking up effectively with the typically adventurous Emilio Izaguirre down the left and it was through this route that the first
goal arrived on the quarter-hour mark.After driving down the left, Armstrong found Izaguirre haring forward on another attacking sortie. The Honduran’s cross was met by Commons and, although goalkeeper Connor Ripley managed to block his volley, Ciftci was on hand to calmly apply the finish from the rebound.Aside from a Stephen Pearson cross from the left, dealt with ably by a combination of Dedryck Boyata and Nir Bitton, it was one-way traffic as Celtic probed patiently for further opportunities.A quickly-taken free-kick from Commons from 30 yards almost caught out Ripley, but the keeper managed to get his hands to the shot. Bitton also blasted over when Ambrose’s cutback was only partially cleared.

As half-time approached, the Steelemen’s defence was stretched to breaking point as the Hoops maintained their offensive. Ciftci saw a shot blocked and Tom Rogic shot over following a sweeping move down the left involving Bitton and Armstrong.After Rogic was fouled by Stephen McManus 22 yards from goal, Commons struck the bar from the resultant free-kick with Ripley beaten. Moments later, the Lanarkshire side were forced into some desperate defending from Ambrose’s inswinging cross after they had been cut open by another swift interchange of passes. Boyata headed inches wide of the far post from Blackett’s searching cross and Commons and Scott Brown had further efforts on goal before a one-side half concluded.There was little deviation in the pattern of play after the restart as Celtic pressed on in search of the security of a second goal.

Izaguirre had the first sight of goal in front of the massed ranks of travelling supporters, but he couldn’t keep his first-time effort from an acute angle on target after Commons has located him with a delightful pass.Celtic then had a penalty appeal turned down by referee Alan Muir when Brown went down in the box under a challenge after attempting to reach Commons’ return pass.Commons steered a shot wide from Ciftci’s knockdown, before the Hoops had another penalty plea waved away by the officials as Commons header from the byline appeared to strike the hand of a Motherwell defender.

The home side were offering more going forward than the first period but nothing substantial. An instinctive volley from defender Kieran Kennedy, after the ball had been
headed back into the mix from a corner, was their only serious attempt on goal, though Celtic’s slender advantage continued to provide them with hope.However, as both teams made a series of substitutions, it was the Ronny Deila’s men who finished on top, with Commons, Callum McGregor and Griffiths all coming close with late efforts.

CELTIC (4-2-3-1) Gordon; Ambrose, Boyata, Blackett, Izaguirre; Brown, Bitton, Commons, Rogic, Armstrong (Mackay-Steven 66); Ciftci (Griffiths 60)
Not Used: Bailly, Tierney, Lustig, McGregor, Stokes

MOTHERWELL (4-1-4-1) Ripley; Law, Kennedy, McManus, Chalmers; Laing; Johnson (Thomas 72), Grimshaw, Pearson, Moult (Ainsworth 53); Fletcher (McDonald 66)
Not Used: Samson, Lasley, Robinson, Leitch, Thomas


_50775947_hamilton_celtic_512

SPFL Premiership
New Douglas Park, Hamilton
Sunday, October 4, 2015

HAMILTON ACCIES…1
(Kurtaj 4)
CELTIC…2
(Boyata 26, Griffiths 32)

FIRST-HALF goals from Dedryck Boyata and Leigh Griffiths helped Celtic overcome an early set-back against Hamilton at New Douglas Park to go one point off the top spot in the SPFL Premiership with a 2-1 win.Gramoz Kurtaj’s accurate finish inside five minutes gave the home side a shock lead against the champions but the Hoops fought back into the game and eventually got their noses in front before half-time.Boyata’s poked-home finish from Griffiths’ free-kick drew the match level just after the half-hour mark and the striker then scored what proved to be the winner with a well- placed header from Saidy Janko’s accurate cross six minutes later.A late chance from Gary Mackay-Steven was the Hoops’ best opportunity in a tight second-half but the first-half goals proved to be enough to get the Celts back to winning ways in the league and just one point off Aberdeen in first place.

Ronny Deila made four changes for the match with Saidy Janko brought in to replace Mikael Lustig at right-back and Tyler Blackett drafted into central defence for the suspended Efe Ambrose. Emilio Izaguirre also came back into the starting XI in place of Kieran Tierney, who dropped to the bench.The game had a bright opening to it with both teams pushing forward with ambition but it was the home side who converted their early enterprise into a goal, despite the Celts dominating possession.High pressing from Kurtaj near the Celtic 18 yard box put Boyata under pressure, allowing the Hamilton attacker to squirm the ball away from his feet. The Accies forward then sped into the box and fired a composed shot into the bottom corner to stun the champions inside five minutes.The Lanarkshire team pressed their advantage, switching formation with fluidity from defence to attack but the Bhoys weathered the spell and began to play with more composure.

The champions sought creativity on the wings with Janko and Izaguirre but it was ultimately through a piece of poor play from Hamilton that the Hoops got back into the game after Lucas Tagliapietra foolishly fouled Janko after the Celtic defender made a bursting run down the right.Leigh Griffiths took the resulting free-kick and whipped in a dangerous ball to the back-post where Boyata atoned for his earlier slip by striking the ball home to level the match.Celtic were then in the ascendancy and sensed Hamilton were on the ropes. They continued to play direct down the wings and Janko was involved again as the Hoops eventually took the lead.The full-back got on the end of a great passing move from the Celts outside the Accies box and curled in a perfect cross for Griffiths, who out-jumped his marker and nodded home a well-placed header across the keeper to put the champions in front.

Hamilton then looked like they were falling apart as James Forrest almost made it 3-1 with a clever shot at the near post but they managed to regroup before half-time and keep the Celts out before the interval.The teams came out for the restart full of renewed enthusiasm, with Izaguirre’s strong header in the centre of the pitch signalling Celtic’s intentions to grab control of the game. That sparked a spate of fouls from either side with both teams trying to assert their authority in a hotly contested start to the second period which featured plenty of passion but little football.Celtic soon began to get their foot on the ball, however, and used their aggressive pressing to win the ball back in promising areas but could create little in the way of chances.Stuart Armstrong replaced James Forrest on 65 minutes as the Celts freshened up their attack. The winger had been largely subdued and forced into defensive work for most of the afternoon with so much of Hamilton’s
play focused down Celtic’s left.

His substitution gave Armstrong a chance to get back on the pitch after a period out injured and he looked keen to impress but Accies refused to give up their quest for an equaliser and made their own tactical change, with Christian Nade replacing Carlton Morris.As the game wore on chances remained at a premium. Niggling fouls and poor passing from both teams bogged the play down in midfield with both sides also putting in a shift in defence.The game entered the final 10 minutes finely balanced with the Hoops still 2-1 up but keen to add to their lead. A glorious chance was presented to do that when Garcia Tena fouled Griffiths outside the box but the Celtic striker’s shot from the resultant set-piece was straight at McGovern.Substitute Gary Mackay-Steven then showed
Garcia Tena a clean pair of heels in stoppage time to get a shot in on goal but his effort slipped narrowly wide.

CELTIC (4-2-3-1) Gordon; Janko (Lustig 76), Boyata, Blackett, Izaguirre; Brown, Bitton; Commons, Rogic (Mackay-Steven 76), Forrest (Armstrong 65); Griffiths
Not used: Bailly, Ciftci, McGregor, Tierney

HAMILTON ACCIES (4-2-3-1) McGovern; Gordon, Garcia Tena, Tagliapietra, Kurkanis; Gillespie, Mackinnon; Imrie (D’Acol 82), Crawford (Docherty 75), Kurtaj; Morris (Nade 69)
Not used: Martin, Sendles-White, Longridge, Lyon,


fft107_mf5966642


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

CELTIC…2
(Griffiths 28, Commons 32)
FENERBAHCE…2
(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


3455-celtic-v-hearts-team-news


Scottish Premiership
Celtic Park, Glasgow
Saturday, September 26, 2015

CELTIC…0
HEARTS…0

DESPITE a dominant display, Celtic had to settle for a share of the spoils against Hearts today in Paradise, with the match ending in a frustrating goal-less draw.The Hoops were on top throughout the contest and carved out a number of excellent chances, particularly in the first half, with the impressive James Forrest coming closest when he struck the woodwork.But they couldn’t get the goal their superiority merited, with the Tynecastle side managing to survive Celtic’s late onslaught.Aberdeen’s defeat at Inverness Caley Thistle, however, did mean they closed the gap on the Pittodrie side at the top of the league to four points.Leigh Griffiths returned to spearhead the Celtic attack Hearts as Ronny Deila made seven changes from the team that dispatched Raith Rovers in the League Cup third round on Wednesday night,The in-form striker, who bagged his 10th goal of the season in last week’s thumping win over Dundee, was restored to the starting XI along with Mikael Lustig, Dedryck Boyata, Emilio Izaguirre, Nir Bitton, Tom Rogic and James Forrest.

And Griffiths was immediately involved as the hosts made a brisk start. Determined play by the forward down the left with just 20 seconds on the clock saw him deliver an inviting cross into mix which wasn’t far away from the onrushing Scott Brown.Griffiths was back helping his defence moments later, heading clear a corner as far as Sam Nicholson who blasted over.Playing with real urgency, the Bhoys were quickly resumed the offensive. Commons wasn’t far away with a curling free-kick on the right when everyone expected him to cross into the mix, before Blazej Augustyn’s foul on the lively Rogic gave Griffiths a chance to try his luck from long-range. His venomous, dipping drive had to be repelled by Neil Alexander.Juanma shot narrowly over for the visitors on a rare forward foray but Forrest came even closer in the 17th minute, his ferocious shot crashing off the bar with Alexander rooted to the spot.

Commons also smashed a shot over after a Griffiths flick-on as the Hoops, playing at a furious intensity, refused to allow the Edinburgh side any respite.Forrest and Rogic, in particular, continued to fashion promising situations. Midway through the half Forrest squeezed a pass through for Australian in the box but he could only drag his shot wide. After Izaguirre had picked out Griffiths in space, he was unable to guide his header inside the post – but the chances kept coming.Only a last-gasp challenge from Igor Rossi denied Rogic, before Augustyn’s wayward header dropped for Griffiths but the former Hibs man could only head straight at Alexander.His frustrations continued when he was unable to get Izaguirre’s shot, which had ricocheted around the box, under control at the vital moment. Alexander was then called into action from Bitton’s low effort.

Forrest looked like a man on a mission, wreaking havoc with his speed and direct play. Hearts were struggling to contain him and opposite number Callum Paterson, along with opposite number Jamie Walker, had earned bookings for fouling the winger.And the winger took matters into his own hands as half-time approached. When his searching cross was cleared back into his path he flashed a powerful half-volley inches over the bar from an acute angle.For all their dominance, Celtic still hadn’t broken the deadlock and the capital club almost made them pay nine minutes into the second half as Rossi headed into the side-netting from Walker’s cross.Brown responded by a lashing a shot wide from 20 yards as Celtic grew in ascendency. Indeed, it would be one-way traffic for the remainder of the match.

Forrest continued to be thorn for the Hearts rearguard as cross after cross was delivered into the visitors’ box without reward. A foul on Bitton saw Commons drill a free-kick high and wide.With the capital club defending deep in their own box, space was at a premium. Commons did manage to evade his marker, but his volley was blocked by Augustyn, before Griffiths shot over.Nadir Ciftci was thrown on by Ronny Deila to try and help Celtic break the deadlock as Celtic’s attacks became more desperate. Ciftci, Griffiths and Bitton had late efforts but it wasn’t to be the Hoops’ day.In stoppage time, Griffiths had the ball in the net but his goal was disallowed for a foul by Ciftci and in the dying seconds Efe Ambrose was shown a red card for felling Nicholson as the winger attempted to break clear.

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

HEARTS (4-4-2) Alexander; Paterson, Augustyn, Rossi, Oshaniwa; Nicholson, Pallardo, Gomis, Walker (Djoum 80); Juanma (Reilly 77), Sow (Bauben65)
Not Used: Hamilton, Ozturk, Djoum, McGhee, Swanson


_85230738_bonner


Scottish League Cup
Third Round
Celtic Park, Glasgow
Wednesday, September 23, 2015

CELTIC…2
(Commons 32, Johansen 87)
RAITH ROVERS…0

GOALS in either half from Kris Commons and Stefan Johansen gave Celtic a hard-earned but deserved victory over Raith Rovers in the third round of the Scottish League Cup.The champions were forced to be patient from the first whistle as Ray McKinnon’s side sat deep, looking to hit on the break, but a flash of brilliance from Commons just after 30 minutes finally broke the deadlock and put the Hoops in front.The anticipated deluge of goals failed to follow, however, and it took until the final minutes of the game before Johansen’s calm finish on the counter-attack sealed the victory and gave the Bhoys safe passage to the quarter-final.Ronny Deila made six changes for the match following the weekend thrashing of Dundee, and the reshuffled line-up struggled to find their rhythm early on. Raith’s 4-1-4-1 formation gave the Bhoys plenty of time on the ball in their own half but chances were difficult to create.

The first real effort didn’t come until 13 minutes when some decisive play from Commons picked out Gary Mackay-Steven on the left flank, but his cross-come-shot went past the far post.The visitors then had their own first sight of goal when a flick-on from Kevin Cuthbert’s searching goal-kick allowed James Wighton to shoot but Craig Gordon got down well to save.The Hoops’ early play was focused down the wings, with Saidy Janko and Kieran Tierney both heavily involved but the visitors’ well-protected backline was difficult for the Celts to break through.The Championship side were happy to sit deep, play on the break and look to win free-kicks, which the League Cup holders afforded them on a couple of occasions, but there was no real threat from the Kirkcaldy team.That was the same for Celtic for the first 30 minutes until Commons grabbed the game by the scruff of the neck and put the Bhoys in front just after the half-hour mark by proving once again that he can create a goal out of nothing.

The attacker received a pass 25 yards out and turned his man before firing a low, swerving effort into the back of the net beyond Cuthbert.It was the goal the game needed but it unfortunately wasn’t the catalyst for more as the visitors stuck to their game-plan and continued to soak up pressure on their 18-yard line until half-time.Celtic tried to pick up the pace after the restart and went on the attack straight from the kick-off but Raith’s superior numbers in defence continued to limit the Hoops’ creativity.The visitors maintained their game-plan from the first-half, relying on pace on the break to cause threats to the champions but they got a clear chance to draw level from a long throw-in just before the hour mark.The Celtic defence failed to clear Jason Thomson’s long throw-in and it sat up kindly for Ross Matthews but he blazed his shot over the bar.It was a warning to the Celts, who took heed and made a double switch shortly after with James Forrest and Tom Rogic replacing Commons and Callum McGregor.

The game opened up slightly as it approached the last 15 minutes after Raith brought on Jon Daly as they made their play to get back into the match.Their more ambitious formation created space for Celtic but the visitors were committed to their new approach and threw men forward to support it.The Hoops had to weather a rare spell of pressure from Ray McKinnon’s side as they strove to get back into the game and they could have snatched an equaliser with 10 minutes left but Daly hooked his shot over Gordon’s crossbar.Celtic then secured the tie with three minutes remaining as Stefan Johansen raced clear of the Raith defence. The midfielder had Ciftci for support but he took the shot on himself and curled a well-placed effort past Cuthbert.Ronny Deila then gave youngster Aidan Nesbitt his competitive debut as the clock ticked down but there was little time for the playmaker to have an impact before the final whistle, which blew shortly after, giving Celtic safe passage to the next round of the League Cup.

CELTIC (4-2-3-1) Gordon; Janko, Ambrose, Blackett, Tierney; Brown, Johansen; McGregor (Forrest 66), Commons (Rogic 66), Mackay-Steven; Ciftci (Nesbitt 87).
Not used: Bailly, Lustig, Stokes, Izaguirre

RAITH ROVERS (4-1-4-1) Cuthbert; Thomson, Toshney, Benedictus, McKeown; Matthews (McCord 79); Anderson (Megginson 75), Davidson (Daly 70), Craigen, Stewart; Wighton.

Not used: Laidlaw, Petrie, Ellis, Mackie


Celtic-v-Dundee_778x436


SPFL Premiership
Celtic Park, Glasgow
Sunday, September 20, 2015

CELTIC…6
(Rogic 14, Griffiths 16, Izaguirre 54, 60, Brown 86, Ciftci 88)

DUNDEE…0

A SECOND-HALF double from Emilio Izaguirre along with Nadir Ciftci’s first goal for Celtic helped give the Scottish champions a sensational 6-0 win over Dundee at Paradise as the Bhoys put on a show of flair, composure and style in the SPFL Premiership.The Honduran’s fourth and fifth goals for the club gave the Celts an unassailable lead in the second-half before substitute Ciftci capped off an impressive overall performance by Ronny Deila’s men with a cute finish through the legs of Scott Bain to round off the scoring.It was a scintillating display from the Hoops, who outclassed their opponents from the first whistle, and it could have been even more had it not been for the heroics of Bain in the Dundee goal.

The tone of the afternoon was set early with two quick goals from Tom Rogic and Leigh Griffiths but it will be Izaguirre’s second-half brace that will be the lasting memory for the Paradise faithful, who almost saw the Honduran make history by getting an unprecedented third from the penalty spot after McGregor was fouled in the box but he blazed his shot well over the bar.The fans and players will have been happy with the joy of six, however, as the Bhoys closed the gap on league leaders Aberdeen.Three changes were made to the starting XI for the match following the 2-2 draw with Ajax in Amsterdam giving Efe Ambrose and Saidy Janko a chance to impress in defence with Rogic deployed in the central attacking role behind striker Griffiths.

Celtic started the match with purpose, passing well and pushing Dundee back towards their 18 yard line early on. Griffiths rippled the side netting with a free-kick before Bain pulled out a wonder save to thwart the striker from inside the box but it wasn’t long before the early pressure paid off and the Bhoys opened their account.Izaguirre had started the match in impressive fashion, linking up well with James Forrest, and it was the Honduran’s accurate cut-back to Rogic into the area from the left that allowed the Australian to smash in a first-time volley to give the Celts the lead on 14 minutes.It was an emphatic finish from the playmaker, who followed it up by helping the champions go two goals up almost immediately after scoring the first.

Dundee had come up the pitch from the restart but good defensive work from the Celts saw the ball break to Rogic in midfield and he carried it forward before playing a clever pass to Griffiths in the area. The striker had his first shot saved by Bain but was on hand to bury the rebound and give the Hoops a strong lead in the opening stages of the match.The Bhoys went in search of a third goal straight after but Dundee upped the tempo after going 2-0 down and began to meet the Celts higher up the pitch to stem the flow of chances being created. Paul Hartley’s side were composed in possession coming forward but lacked penetration in the final third and could only muster speculative shots from distance as they strived to get back into the match.Craig Gordon only had one save to make in the first-half, parrying Gary Harkins low free-kick before half-time, but it was the Bhoys who finished on top with Bain once again denying Rogic with a great save on the stroke of half-time.

The interval did little to quell Celtic’s appetite for attack as they once again pushed Dundee back to their 18 yard box after the restart.Australian midfielder Rogic got the first shot in of the second 45 minutes but the Hoops’ third of game came from an unlikely but deserved scorer in the form of Izaguirre.The left-back had imposed himself on the match from the start and his trademark runs down the left had created no end of problems for Dundee. And it was through another one of those enterprising moves that he found himself in the box to gather a clever pass from Commons and slot a low, right footed shot beyond Bain to essentially seal the points for Ronny Deila’s men.The Hoops weren’t done there and they added to their lead just over five minutes later with Izaguirre grabbing his first ever brace in green and white.

Saidy Janko, who had been equally as industrious as the left-back all afternoon burst forward from midfield on the right and hit the byline where he chipped in a cross. The centre was deflected by a Dundee defender but it floated over Bain to the back post where Izaguirre was on hand for the tap-in and his second of the game.The stars looked to be aligning for the defender and he could have scored a historic hat-trick just minutes later when substitute McGregor was fouled in the box and the Honduran stepped up to take the resulting spot kick. The 29-year-old went for power over finesse, however, and blazed his shot over the bar.It wasn’t the fairytale moment the defender was looking for but his earlier double allowed him and the Celtic Park faithful to laugh off the missed chance.

There was one more historic moment to come afterwards, however, as the Celts incredibly scored another two goals through Scott Brown and Nadir Ciftci, his first for the club.The Turkish striker provided the assist for his captain with a clever cut-back for the Hoops midfielder to finish in the box before he capitalised on a slack Dundee back-pass to poke the ball between Bain’s legs for Celtic’s sixth.It was an outstanding end to an outstanding display from the champions and will give them a massive confidence boost going into an important week of the season.

CELTIC (4-2-3-1) Gordon; Janko, Boyata, Ambrose, Izaguirre; Brown, Bitton, Commons (Mackay-Steven 62), Rogic, Forrest (McGregor 62); Griffiths (Ciftci 58)
Not used: Bailly, Blackett, Stokes, Tierney

DUNDEE (4-2-3-1) Bain; Irvine, Konrad, McPake, McGinn; Thomson (Calder 59), Ross; Harkins (Loy 59), Low, Stewart; Hemmings (Healy 67)
Not used: Gourlay, Holt, Carreiro, Meggatt


celticEUROPA


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

AJAX…2
(Fischer 25, Schone 84)
CELTIC…2
(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


AberdeenvCeltic


Scottish Premiership
Pittodrie, Aberdeen
Saturday, September 12, 2015

ABERDEEN…2
(Rooney 57 pen., Quinn 86)
CELTIC…1
(Griffiths 35 pen.)

PAUL Quinn’s late strike for Aberdeen saw Celtic fall to their first defeat of the league campaign and relinquish top spot to the league to the Dons.The Hoops had led at half-time through Leigh Griffiths’ penalty after the striker had been fouled in the box by Andrew Considine.But when Dedyrck Boyata was penalised for a challenge on Graham Shinnie, Adam Rooney levelled the match from the spot 12 minutes into the second period.And despite going down to 10 men when Johnny Hayes received his marching orders, Quinn finished off Niall McGinn’s free-kick four minutes from the end as Celtic’s afternoon ended in disappointment. New Bhoy Tyler Blackett was handed his Celtic debut as Ronny Deila made four changes to the team who defeated St Johnstone 3-1 before the international break.

The defender, signed on a season-long loan from Manchester United, started at left-back for the Hoops. Mikael Lustig, Charlie Mulgrew and Stefan Johansen also returned to the side.Virgil van Dijk, who has now joined Southampton, Saidy Janko, Emilio Izaguirre and Kris Commons were the players to drop out.Top scorer Griffiths retained his usual place as the lone frontman and he almost capitalised on a mistake from Andrew Considine inside two minutes to provide the perfect start for the Scottish champions, but goalkeeper Danny Ward reacted quickly to push his low shot wide.In windswept, rainy conditions, the match was being played at a frenetic pace as both sides fought for supremacy, though the Hoops were enjoying the better of the early possession.

Mulgrew headed over from Gary Mackay-Steven’s corner, before Griffiths cracked a free-kick off the bar via a deflection after Johansen had been felled on the edge of the box.At the other end, Considine couldn’t keep his header down from Hayes’ corner as the Dons crept into the contest. A stunning save from Gordon midway through the half prevented Kenny McLean’s header from finding the net but the flag was raised in any event for a foul.Blackett was looking assured on his first outing for the Hoops, defending diligently and getting forward to support the attack when required. One lofted cross from the defender found Griffiths in the box but the striker’s spectacular scissor kick never threatened Ward’s goal.

In the 34th minute, however, the Hoops hitman was rewarded for his persistence as Celtic broke the deadlock. Mulgrew sent a raking ball over the top and Griffiths did brilliantly to take the ball in his stride in the box and evade the clutches of Considine, forcing the defender to haul him to the ground.Referee Craig Thomson pointed to the spot and Griffiths confidently converted from 12 yards. Emboldened by their goal, Ronny Deila’s men thrust forward in search of further reward before the break and a precise cross from Johansen was met by Griffiths but he couldn’t direct his header on target.Aberdeen were the team in the ascendency as the second half got underway, however, and there were frenzied claims for handball against Charlie and a penalty among the home support when Mulgrew cleared Shay Logan’s cross.

But they got their wish in the 56th minute as Boyata barged into Shinnie on the byline, with Rooney finding the corner from the penalty.At this stage, the momentum was with the home side and the Hoops rearguard were forced to deal with a number of dangerous crosses into the box.However, the match looked to be swinging back in Celtic’s favour in the closing stages as Johnny Hayes saw a straight red for a rash challenge on Lustig. But aside from a couple of efforts from substitute James Forrest, which Ward saved comfortably, Celtic never took advantage of their extra man.Instead it was the Dons who grabbed the winning goal as McGinn’s hanging free-kick fell for defender Quinn who stabbed home.That was the cue for a late Celtic rally. Brown shot wide after being supplied by Forrest and when Griffiths rounded Ward and saw his attempt cleared off the line by Considine, he and Celtic knew it wasn’t to be their day.

CELTIC (4-2-3-1) Gordon: Lustig (Ambrose 73) Boyata, Mulgrew, Blackett; Brown, Bitton; Johansen, Rogic (Forrest 73) Mackay-Steven (Ciftci 77); Griffiths
Not Used: Subs: Bailly, Commons, Janko, McGregor

ABERDEEN (4-3-3) Ward; Logan, Taylor, Quinn, Considine; Jack, McLean, Shinnie; McGinn (Flood 86), Rooney (Parker 80) Hayes
Not Used: Brown, Robson, Pawlett, Goodwillie, McLaughlin


78996-celtic-v-st-johnstone-team-news-and-preview


SPFL Premiership
Celtic Park, Glasgow
Saturday,Aug 29, 2015

CELTIC…3
(Griffiths 18’, Rogic 44’, Mulgrew 67’)

ST JOHNSTONE…1
(Boyata [O.G] 11’)

A HARD-FOUGHT but ultimately deserved 3-1 victory over St Johnstone saw Celtic retain their unbeaten run in the SPFL Premiership and get back to winning ways after Tuesday’s disappointment.A well-drilled Saints side took an early lead through Dedryck Boyata’s own goal and made life difficult for the champions all afternoon, but goals from Leigh Griffiths, Tom Rogic and second-half substitute Charlie Mulgrew eventually secured the victory for Ronny Deila’s side.Celtic goalkeeper Craig Gordon was forced into a trio of stunning late saves to keep the Bhoys on top and his efforts ultimately helped the champions go to the summit of the league for the first time this season after Hearts were beaten 3-2 by Hamilton Accies.

Four changes were made to the team following Tuesday’s exertions in Sweden, with Emilio Izaguirre returning at left-back and the entire attacking midfield line refreshed for the visit of the Saints with Kris Commons, Rogic and Gary Mackay-Steven replacing James Forrest, Stefan Johansen and Stuart Armstrong.Celtic began the game in enterprising fashion but St Johnstone stunned the home crowd when took the lead on 11 minutes after a slice of bad luck saw Boyata put the ball into his own net.The goal came after Michael O’Halloran took on Izaguirre down the Celtic left and squeezed in a cross, which Craig Gordon looked to have covered but the ball slipped under his body and bounced off the Belgian defender into the empty net.

The champions rallied and got back on level terms on 18 minutes through Leigh Griffiths’ eighth goal of the season when the striker hit a swerving effort which skimmed off Tom Scobbie and into the net.As half-time approached, the game was stopped for a period when Izaguirre suffered a head knock while defending a cross at the back post but he was okay to stay on. The Honduran then almost set-up Griffiths for Celtic to take the lead but the striker’s header hit the side-netting shortly before half-time.However, the Hoops did go in front just before the interval, and it was a goal worth waiting for after Rogic skipped his way past two challenges in the box before he lashed a powerful right-foot shot beyond Mannus to put the champions 2-1 up at the break.

After new loan signing Tyler Blackett was paraded in front of the home support at the interval, Celtic went back on the hunt for more goals to kill the game.A 10-minute period of solid Celtic possession characterised the start of the second-half, but the Bhoys were forced into a change when Hoops skipper Brown came off for Charlie Mulgrew just before the hour mark.The switch didn’t impact Celtic’s attacking flow, however, and they went close to finding a third when Rogic let fly from 25 yards out, but his effort whistled wide.Credit was due to St Johnstone, who continued to snap at the heels of the Celtic midfielders and striker, limiting their time on the ball, but the champions were not to be denied a third and it came through substitute Mulgrew after Commons’ clever shot from inside the box was brilliantly tipped wide for a corner by Mannus.

Commons took the set-piece quickly and Mulgrew bravely stuck his head in to connect with the ball after Van Dijk had knocked it into the six-yard box.Tommy Wright’s side were not out, however, and they tested the Celtic defence with a string of corners which the champions struggled to clear as the game drew to its conclusion.Saints striker John Sutton had the best chance from those set-plays when the ball broke to him six yards out but his volley on the turn clipped the bar and went out for a goal-kick.Scott Allan made his home debut with just over 10 minutes left and he went close twice, once with a left-footed shot from inside the area before sending a drive over the bar in stoppage time.A late St Johnstone free-kick gave Celtic cause for concern but Gordon palmed Liam Craig’s curling effort wide before the Celts keeper pulled off a remarkable double save on his goal-line with seconds left to secure the points for the champions.

Celtic (4-2-3-1) Gordon; Janko, Boyata, van Dijk, Izaguirre; Brown (Mulgrew 59), Bitton (McGregor 87); Commons (Allan 77), Rogic, Mackay-Steven; Griffiths.
Not used: Bailly, Ambrose, Forrest, Stokes

ST JOHNSTONE (4-4-1-1) Mannus; Shaughnessy, Mackay, Scobbie, Easton; O’Halloran, Millar, Davidson (Craig 46), Wotherspoon; MacLean (Sutton 68); Cummins (Kane 80)
Not used: Clark, Lappin, McKay, Caddis


1363999730734


UEFA Champions League play-off second-leg

Malmo New Stadium, Malmo, Sweden
Tuesday, August 25, 2015

MALMO FF…2
(Rosenberg 23, Boyata o.g. 54)
CELTIC…0

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


dundee-united-2-1-celtic--scottish-premiership--21-12-2014


SPFL Premiership
Tannadice Stadium
Saturday, August 22, 2015

DUNDEE UNITED…1
(Erskine [penalty] 45)
CELTIC…3
(Griffiths 17, Durnan O.G. 44, McGregor 74

CELTIC kept up their winning momentum ahead of next week’s UEFA Champions League play-off second leg against Malmo with a 3-1 victory over Dundee United in the SPFL Premiership at Tannadice today (Saturday).A strong start by a much-changed Hoops starting XI from Wednesday’s play-off first leg win at Paradise saw the Celts take the lead on 17 minutes through Leigh Griffiths when the striker rounded Luis Zwick and converted from an acute angle.That advantage was doubled by Mark Durnan’s own goal just before half-time but United pulled one back when Chris Erskine converted from the penalty spot on the stroke of half-time.

The home side came out strong for the second-half and tested the Bhoys with a string of shots and corners, but Callum McGregor’s deflected shot on 74 minutes eventually sealed the win for the champions and gave them the perfect warm-up for Tuesday’s crunch match in Sweden.Celtic started the game well and surged forward from kick-off into the United half. Patient attacking play from the Hoops almost brought the opener inside five minutes when Kris Commons turned and shot in the box, but Mark Durnan was on the line to get a block on the attacker’s shot and deflect the effort on to the crossbar.The champions continued to pile forward, probing down the wings through Emilio Izaguirre and Saidy Janko, the former of which was fouled twice by Paul Dixon, bringing the first yellow card of the match.

The breakthrough then came for the champions on 17 minutes when the lively Leigh Griffiths latched on to a defence-splitting pass from Izaguirre in midfield, beating the offside trap before rounding Luis Zwick 12 yards out and slotting home from a tight angle for his seventh goal of the season.The strike merited the Bhoys’ bright start and they continued to apply pressure after the goal and went close again through Commons, but they also had a lucky escape at the other end when Logan Bailly was caught in possession at the edge of his box but managed to scramble the ball clear.The Celts recovered from the brief slip and drove forward again, tormenting the United backline with a string of shots and corners that brought out the best in Zwick, who was in fine form.

But he could do nothing to stop the champions eventually going two in front when Durnan intercepted Commons’ cut-back for Griffiths in the box, only to watch the ball trundle past the stranded goalkeeper and into the net with a minute to go until half-time.Drama then engulfed the game seconds before the break when Efe Ambrose was adjudged to have fouled Scott Fraser, bringing a penalty for the home team and a yellow card for the defender.Erskine stepped up to the spot and converted confidently past Bailly to pull one back for the Terrors on the stroke of half-time.The goal before the interval did United the world of good as they came out for the restart fired up. McNamara’s side pressed Celtic high up the pitch and carved out early openings through Erskine and Dixon but neither could find the target.

The Hoops eventually found their rhythm again just before the hour mark with Izaguirre influential for the Bhoys both in attack and defence, although his work to get into good areas on the left failed to provide a clear goal-scoring chance.Callum McGregor then replaced Charlie Mulgrew in midfield and his early link-up play with Rogic kept the Hoops on top of possession but United were defending well, reducing Celtic’s attacking prowess.Ronny Deila sought to change that with the introduction of Scott Allan, who replaced Griffiths with 20 minutes left to make his Hoops debut.And the attacker almost had a dream start when he tried to lob Zwick with the keeper off his line but the keeper chased back to save the attacker’s effort.

The 23-year-old’s desire to make a strong start to his Celtic career gave the Hoops more zest in attack but United were not out, and continued to probe the Hoops defence with testing balls over the top and good passing into feet round the box.It was the Bhoys who finally found the back of the net again, however, and it was substitute McGregor who got the vital third for the Bhoys.The attacker picked the ball up on the angle of the box and drove along the 18-yard line before shooting with his left, with Coll Donaldson’s deflection taking the ball beyond Zwick.The goal gave the champions the cushion they needed with little time left in the game for United to find a reply.The hosts tried their best to do that, however, forcing Bailly into a smart save at his near post and winning a succession of corners but the Bhoys held firm.

The two goal advantage also allowed young Celtic star Joe Thomson to make his first appearance of the season after he replaced the imperious Tom Rogic with 10 minutes left.
The champions had chances to add to their lead before the final whistle but a combination of good defending from United and slack finishing from the Celts kept the scores a 3-1, which was enough to give the Hoops a deserved win.

CELTIC (4-2-3-1): Bailly; Janko, Ambrose, O’Connell, Izaguirre; Rogic (Thomson 79), Mulgrew (McGregor 60); Mackay-Steven, Commons, Stokes; Griffiths (Allan 68)
Not used: Fasan, Scepovic, Kelleher, Tierney

DUNDEE UNITED (4-3-2-1): Zwick; Dillon, Donaldson, Durnan, Dixon; Souttar, McGowan, Fraser (Dow 54); Erskine (Connolly 77), Spittal; Muirhead (Murray 67)
Not used: McCallum, H Souttar, Telfer, Coote.


o-matic-6812850157

UEFA Champions League play-off first-leg

Celtic Park, Glasgow
Wednesday, August 19, 2015

CELTIC…3
(Griffiths 3, 62, Bitton 10)
MALMO FF…2
(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


celtic-ict.jpg.4c42b9ae4c73c846573ecb392257ad0e


Scottish Premiership
Celtic Park, Glasgow
Saturday, August 15, 2015

CELTIC…4
(Lustig 7, Griffiths 12, Armstrong 55, 69,)

INVERNESS CALEY THISTLE…2
(Christie 72, Lopez 78)

CELTIC survived a late rally by Inverness Caley Thistle to get back to winning ways in the league with a 4-2 victory at Paradise.A lightening quick start from the champions saw them go 2-0 up inside 12 minutes thanks to goals from Mikael Lustig and Leigh Griffiths as they dominated the first-half.That lead was stretched further in the second-half courtesy of a fine double from Stuart Armstrong but the visitors clawed their way back into proceedings through two late goals from Ryan Christie and Dani Lopez.

The game remained open until the closing minutes, with both sides squandering chances to score again but the Celts emerged victorious, and deservedly so on the balance of play.
Kick-off was preceded by the arrival of new signing Scott Allan who was unveiled to the home support before after the 23-year-old midfielder agreed a four-year deal to join Ronny Deila’s side from Hibernian on Friday.

The manager made five changes to his side following the midweek 2-2 draw with Kilmarnock at Rugby Park with captain Scott Brown, along with fellow Hoops stars Lustig, Dedryck Boyata, Gary Mackay-Steven and Armstrong all reintroduced to the starting XI as the Celts fielded a strong team ahead of Wednesday’s visit of Malmo in the UEFA Champions League play-off.

The Celtic skipper was instrumental in the opening stages and it was his driving run towards the box which was halted unfairly and led to the opening goal. The midfielder had dodged two challenges but was fouled at the third, setting up Stefan Johansen with a free-kick 30 yards out.The Norwegian clipped a ball into the box and Mikael Lustig rose highest of three waiting Celtic players to get a strong enough touch to put the ball beyond Owain Fon Williams for the opener on seven minutes.

The Bhoys then kept up the pressure and doubled their advantage five minutes later after a great piece of play from Nir Bitton down the left after the Israeli midfielder did well to hold on to the ball under pressure then work space for a left-footed cross to the back post.
Griffiths was poised and waiting, and he powered a header home after leaping above his marker from a standing start, putting the Bhoys 2-0 upIt was scintillating stuff from the champions and it didn’t relent.

Their quick passing and slick movement continued to bring free-kicks and corners as the visitors struggled to deal with the high-tempo play.Ross Draper and Carl Tremarco were both booked for late challenges as the Celts dragged the Highlanders across the pitch, with the former lucky not to be sent off for his poorly-timed tackle on Brown.The lead was almost further extended by the Hoops before the half-hour mark when Johansen rattled a shot off the bar and Stuart Armstrong’s accurate rebound was cleared off the line as the visitors clung on by the skin of their teeth.

The pressure continued to the interval but no more goals came despite further efforts from Bitton and Armstrong after patient play by the champions.John Hughes changed his formation for the second-half, switching between a five 5-3-2 and 4-1-4-1 system in a bid to thwart Celtic’s play, and it worked for a while with Caley enjoying good spells of possession in the opening stages but their good work was undone on 55 minutes when Armstrong put the Bhoys 3-0 up.

The winger gathered the ball in the box from a Griffiths cutback and showed confidence and composure to take a touch before curling a fizzing shot over the head of Fon Williams and into the net.Brown and Lustig were then replaced by Charlie Mulgrew and Saidy Janko with half an hour left and were only on the pitch for a minute before Johansen went agonisingly close to making it 4-0 with a rasping volley from 20 yards after Armstrong’s corner.

Armstrong then made it a double for the afternoon when he picked the ball up on the edge of the Caley box and drove towards the penalty spot, dodging tackles all the time.
Just when it looked like the chance had passed for the player he pulled the trigger and unleashed a low, powerful shot past Fon Williams to make it 4-0 with 20 minutes left.
The attacker was then replaced by Callum McGregor almost immediately as Celtic continued the attack but a brief lapse in concentration at the back for the Bhoys saw the visitors claim a goal back when substitute Ryan Christie pounced on a mistake from Boyata and slotted low beyond Craig Gordon.

Further slack play from the champions then allowed the visitors to grab another when second-half substitute Dani Lopez found the ball 30 yards out and worked an angle to fire an accurate finish beyond Gordon and set up a nervy final 10 minutes.Both sides passed up chances to score in the closing stages as tiredness left gaps for the teams to exploit but the Hoops held firm to keep the score at 4-2 and claim the three points.

CELTIC (4-2-3-1) Gordon; Lustig (Janko 62), Boyata, van Dijk, Izaguirre; Brown (Mulgrew 62), Bitton; Mackay-Steven, Johansen, Armstrong (McGregor 70) Griffiths.
Not used: Bailly, Stokes, Rogic, Forrest

INVERNESS: (4-1-4-1) Fon Williams; Raven, Draper, Devine, Tremarco (Lopez 68); Polworth (Christie 49); Tansey, Vigurs (Wedderburn 68), Horner, Williams; Mbuyi-Mutombo.
Not used: Esson, Brown, Sutherland


KilmarnockvCeltic


Ladbrokes Premiership
Rugby Park, Kilmarnock
Wednesday, August 12, 2015

KILMARNOCK…2
(Magennis 44, Higginbotham 87’, [penalty]
CELTIC…2
(Griffiths 2, Bitton 55)

A LATE penalty for Kilmarnock saw Celtic held to a 2-2 draw at Rugby Park tonight (Wednesday), ending the Hoops’ winning run to the start of the 2015/16 Premiership season.Ronny Deila’s side dominated large parts of the match and took the lead inside two minutes through Leigh Griffiths but they were pegged back just before half-time when Josh Magennis pounced to convert a low cross from Darryl Westlake.

A wonder goal from Nir Bitton 10 minutes into the second-half put the Hoops deservedly back in front and they went on to continue to batter away at the hosts’ goal in search of a third, but Emilio Izaguirre’s challenge on Westlake with four minutes left saw the referee point to the spot, and striker Kallum Higginbotham earned his side a draw with the penalty-kick.

Three changes were made to the side following Sunday’s 2-0 win over Partick Thistle with Saidy janko starting hsi first game for the Bhoys in place of Mikael Lustig and Efe Ambrose and James Forrest coming in for Dedryck Boyata and Stuart Armstrong.The tinkered line-up made no difference to the team’s approach from that dominant win over the jags, however, as Ronny Deila’s men started the match a bang, scoring inside the first two minutes.

The Celts won a free-kick on the right touchline just inside Killie’s half, which was taken quickly by Kris Commons after he spotted the run of Griffiths towards the box. The striker allowed the ball to drop over his shoulder and he killed it with his first touch before steadying himself and slotting a low shot beyond MacDonald to give the champions the lead.The pressure didn’t stop there as the imperious Hoops went on the hunt for a second through a period of fast passing and slick play for the first 15 minutes.

Commons, Tom Rogic and Forrest were all denied during that spell by good saves from MacDonald as the Hoops hammered the Killie goal with a barrage of shots and attacks.
The home side managed to survive the onslaught and mounted a brief attack of their own when Greg Kiltie dispossessed Rogic inside Celtic’s half and took a shot at goal but his effort was rushed and well wide of Gordon’s net.

Normal order resumed thereafter as the Bhoys continued to play at a high tempo. Forrest, Rogic and Commons all looked in a threatening mood for the first half-hour, backed up by Stefan Johansen and Nir Bitton’s solidity in midfield, but the game came to an early finish for last week’s goal-scorer, Commons, as he was replaced by Gary Mackay-Steven after picking up a knock.

Killie then had a golden chance to equalise when Josh Magennis beat the offside trap to gather a ball over the Hoops defence on 35 minutes but he blazed his shot over the bar under little pressure.Lee Ashcroft then saw Craig Gordon save his point-blank header on the line after meeting a cross-in from a free-kick on the right but the Celtic keeper could do nothing minutes later stop the hosts’ surprise equaliser on the stroke of half-time.

Killie had just survived a goal-line scramble in their own penalty area before they broke up the pitch down the Bhoys left side. Westlake then crossed into the box for Magennis, who ghosted to the front post and curled a first-time shot beyond Gordon.It was a bitter blow for the Celts to take, given their utter control of proceedings up until that point, and saw the teams go in at the break level.

A lull lay over the Celtic support at the start of the second-half, still stunned from Killie’s shock equaliser but they didn’t have long to wait to have something to sing about.
The Bhoys came out fired up and kept the ball well and won a free-kick 25 yards out after Mackay-Steven was clattered to the ground on the edge of the area.Van Dijk’s shot from the seti-piece clipped the wall and was cleared but the Celts were signalling their intent and went close again when a brilliant burst of pace from Forrest saw him beat two challenges and provide a cut-back for Griffiths but the striker couldn’t connect properly.

Bitton made no mistake with his own connection seconds later, however, when he powered the Celts back into the lead with an outrageous long-range shot on 55 minutes.The midfielder picked up the ball from Rogic 25 yards out after the Australian did well to break forward and shrug off a challenge near the box. The Israeli took one touch to get it out of his feet before coolly smashing a shot beyond MacDonald to put Celtic rightly back in front.

It was a remarkable goal, which MacDonald could do nothing about, despite being the man that had kept his side in the tie up until that point.Celtic then began to turn the screw with Griffiths going close with an angled shot from the edge of the box but Killie looked dangerous on the break and Gordon was forced to tip over a shot from Rory McKenzie.
Just like the first-half, the home side began to rally as the clock ticked down to the end of the half and the Celts had Gordon to thank again when he saved a strong free kick from second-half substitute Arron Splaine before tipping Mark O’Hara’s header wide.

Horror then struck for Ronny Deila’s side when Emilio Izaguirre was penalised for a challenge on Westlake inside the box with four minutes left and a penalty was awarded.
Kallum Higginbotham stepped up for the spot-kick and calmly chipped it into the centre of the goal, with Gordon diving to his right.Celtic tried their best to claim a late winner and went close when Griffiths did well to connect with Janko’s cross from the right but his header went wide of MacDonald’s goal, giving Killie a share of the points.

CELTIC (4-2-3-1) Gordon; Janko, Ambrose, van Dijk, Izaguirre; Bitton (McGregor 85’), Johansen; Commons (Mackay-Steven 29’), Rogic, Forrest (Mulgrew 60); Griffiths
Not used: Bailly, Fisher, Henderson, Stokes

KILMARNOCK (4-2-3-1) MacDonald; Smith, Hamill, Connolly, McKenzie, Robinson (Splaine 66’), Higginbotham, Westlake, Ashcroft (O’Hara 43’), Kiltie (McLean 90’), Magennis
Not used: Davies, Barbour, Hodge, Hawkshaw,


20150809_celtichighlights


Ladbrokes Premiership
Firhill, Glasgow
Sunday, April 9, 2015

PARTICK THISTLE…0
CELTIC…2
(Rogic 28, Commons 63)

TOM Rogic scored on his first competitive Celtic start in almost two years as the champions cruised to a dominant 2-0 victory away to Partick Thistle. The 22-year-old has endured a torrid time on the treatment table in recent seasons but he showed that class prevails, skilfully slotting in the opening goal at Firhill with an instinctive flick.That put the Hoops in charge at the interval and it was the least they deserved after a completely one-sided half in which the Thistle goal led a charmed life.

Kris Commons sealed the three points in the 63rd minute, capitalising on some hesitant defending to chip goalkeeper Tomas Cerny and ensure the visitors maintained their 100 per cent start to their league defence.Rogic, who last started for the Bhoys in a League Cup clash against Morton in 2013, replaced injured captain Scott Brown as Ronny Deila made three changes to the team that enjoyed European success away to FK Qarabag on Wednesday night.Commons and Leigh Griffiths were also restored to the side among the attacking positions, with Gary Mackay-Steven and the suspended Nadir Ciftci dropping out. Mikael Lustig captained the side in Brown’s absence.

Roared on by a huge travelling support, the Hoops made a purposeful start to the match, carving out their first chance inside the first two minutes.Emilio Izaguirre was sent scampering down the left on one of his trademark overlapping runs and the Honduran’s inviting cross was headed over by Griffiths at the far post.Johansen, operating in a deeper midfield role than his normal No.10 position, then picked out Stuart Armstrong with a sumptuous pass over the top. The midfielder attempted to tee-up Rogic but the midfielder was crowded out at the crucial moment.

Armstrong turned provider again moments later, finding Commons on the edge of the area. He evaded the clutches of his marker before forcing Cerny into a low save.The Hoops were bossing proceedings, and even when Thistle did manage to venture forward they were nearly caught out on the counter. Only a barge on Rogic halted a promising move down the right, with Griffiths bringing out another stop from Cerny from the resultant set-piece.
On the 10-minute mark, a Celtic corner fell for Nir Bitton. His shot took a deflection and was almost seized upon by Griffiths, the spin of the ball taking it back into arms of a grateful Cerny.

Armstrong dragged a shot wide of the near post as the pressure continued to mount on the hosts, who were struggling to maintain any concerted pressure as a result of Celtic’s high-intensity pressing game.The premature departure of the influential Armstrong in the 20th minute didn’t disrupt the momentum of Ronny Deila’s side.Another excellent cross from Izaguirre found Griffiths in the middle. The striker took a touch and squeezed a shot in on goal from an acute angle, but Cerny was across quickly to thwart him.

The Czech keeper was beaten shortly after, but the post came to his rescue when van Dijk lashed in a low shot from long-range.But he could nothing to prevent the Bhoys making the breakthrough just short of the 30-minute mark as the unrelenting pressure finally told.
Tenacious play from Izaguirre allowed Callum McGregor to scamper down the left. His centre was met by Griffiths, who teed-up the onrushing Rogic, and the Australian internationalist’s instinctive volley found its way into the corner of the net.

Wave after wave of attack continued unabated towards the Thistle goal as Celtic looked to inflict further punishment before the break. An audacious piece of skill from van Dijk saw the Dutchman leave Liam Lindsay for dead on the byline and raised massive cheers from the Hoops faithful. Electing to shoot from a tight angle, his attempt smashed into the side-netting.Rogic blasted over after another intricate passing move, before the home side finally offered some kind of response as half-time approached, though the nearest they came to threatening Craig Gordon was a half-hearted penalty claim, when a cross hit the back of Mikael Lustig from close-range.

Alan Archibald’s side emerged with greater vigour at the restart and the introduction of new signing Mathias Pogba in the 50th minute also saw a change in tactics.For all their endeavour, however, a cross-shot from Callum Booth was their only effort of note in the this spell as Celtic gradually resumed the ascendency.And in the 63rd minute they ruthlessly doubled their advantage through the direct approach. There looked little danger as Commons pursed Bitton’s long ball over the top with several Thistle defenders, but the 31-year-old reacted quickest to dink the ball over the advancing Cerny and claim his first goal of campaign.

A Griffiths thunderbolt saw Cerny called into action to prevent his side going 3-0 down, before van Dijk made a vital interception from Booth’s cross to deny Pogba at the far post.
The Bhoys threatened to add to their tally in the closing stages as they continued to trouble the hosts with some slick interchanges around the box.At the other end, Pogba came closest to handing the Jags a glimmer of hope as he sent Amoo’s cutback wide of the near post.But Celtic’s grip on the three points never looked in doubt as they comfortably saw the game out and took the acclaim of a vocal away support at the final whistle

CELTIC (4-2-3-1) Gordon; Lustig, Boyata, van Dijk, Izaguirre; Bitton, Johansen; Commons (Henderson 87), Rogic (Mackay-Steven 64), Armstrong (McGregor 20); Griffiths
Not Used: Bailly, Ambrose, Scepovic, Janko

PARTICK THISTLE (4-2-3-1) Cerny; Miller, Hendry, Lindsay, Booth; Bannigan, Osman, Welsh (Fraser 75); Lawless (Pogba 50), Stevenson (Amoo 66) Wilson
Not Used: Scully, Seaborne, Doolan, McDaid


Qarabag-vs-Celtic-Preview


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

CELTIC…0
FK QARABAG…0
(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


_64924603_sspl_celvross_221212_cel.tr


SPFL Premiership
Celtic Park, Glasgow
Saturday, August 1, 2015

CELTIC…2
(Griffiths [penalty] 4, Johansen 35)

ROSS COUNTY…0

CELTIC celebrated the start of the 2015/16 season with a comfortable 2-0 win over Ross County at Paradise.The Bhoys controlled proceedings from the first whistle to last, scoring twice in the first-half through a Leigh Griffiths penalty and a Stefan Johansen shot from inside the box to effectively kill the contest, before continuing to dominate the game in the second-half.

There was slight concern for the Hoops after Griffiths was forced out of action just 15 minutes after scoring but his replacement, Stefan Scepovic, acquitted himself well in his absence.The Bhoys made four changes to the team that recorded a vital 1-0 win over FK Qarabag on Wednesday evening, the most notable of which was the inclusion of 18-year-old Kieran Tierney, who filled in at left-back in place of the suspended Emilio Izaguirre.

James Forrest, Efe Ambrose and Griffiths replaced Nir Bitton, Mikael Lustig and Nadir Ciftci to complete the changes.There was a party atmosphere in the air before kick-off as the fans packed out the stadium to see Hoops legend John Clark unfurl the league flag.And it wasn’t long before the support had a goal to cheer as well when Griffiths opened the scoring inside five minutes.

A clever through ball from Virgil van Dijk had set the hit-man racing into the area but he was fouled from behind by recent Staggies signing Andrew Davies, leaving the referee with no option but to award a penalty.The striker stepped up and slammed the spot-kick low to the right of Scott Fox, who gcould only get the slightest of touches on the ball as it slipped underneath his body, giving the Bhoys the best possible start.

The champions carried on their forward momentum as the game continued and they went close to finding a second after 17 minutes when Forrest burst forward from midfield and worked space for a shot, but Fox had his angles right and saved well.Ronny Deila was then forced into his first change of the match when Griffiths was removed from the action with an injury, allowing Scepovic to make his first appearance of the season.

A moment of panic then fell over Celtic Park when former Hoops midfielder Jackson Irvine broke free from midfield for County and latched on to a loose pass, calling Craig Gordon off his line to meet the Australian outside his box.The Hoops keeper committed himself to the challenge and caught Irvine, earning himself a yellow card.Ian McShane took the set-piece for the visitors and curled a shot through the Celtic wall but Gordon saved well.

The Staggies went close again minutes later through Craig Curran’s low shot from 20 yards but the Bhoys soon retained control of the match when Stefan Johansen finished a well-worked move to give the Celts a 2-0 lead.The goal came from patient play on the edge of the area before Gary Mackay-Steven adroitly weaved his way into the box and played a perfectly weighted pass to Johansen, who had expertly timed his run into the area and thumped the ball beyond Fox with his right foot.

Celtic continued to dictate play after the break, working the ball down the wings through Forrest and Mackay-Steven, but County were pressing much higher and quicker, thwarting Celtic’s play in midfield.The game settled in that pattern until just before the hour mark when Gordon was called into action to save from Curran before Armstrong rounded Fox at the other end only to see his cut-back cleared for a corner.

The chances at both ends sparked the game back into life, with Irvine emerging as a threat from midfield for the visitors as they played on the counter-attack.Ronny Deila made a double switch to regain control and gave Saidy Janko his first taste of competitive action in place of Tierney on the hour mark. Kris Commons also came on for Johansen as the Bhoys sought to kill the match.County still looked dangerous, however, and Gordon had to move quickly to save a stinging effort from substitute Raffaele De vita after Marcus Fraser beat Ambrose and Commons to cross.

It wasn’t long before Celtic got back in control of play, mostly through Commons, who struck a thunderous shot at goal from 25 yards which was tipped over by Fox before Armstrong also went close with a clever chipped shot.The former Dundee United man looked in the mood to get on the score-sheet, as did Commons, who went close again with 10 minutes left but dragged his shot wide from right of the box.

The wins gave the champions a positive start to the defence of their title and good momentum going into Wednesday’s vital UEFA Champions League qualifier third qualifying round second leg against FK Qarabag in Azerbaijan.

CELTIC (4-2-3-1) Gordon; Ambrose, Boyata, van Dijk, Tierney (Janko 60); Brown, Johansen (Commons 60); Forrest, Armstrong, Mackay-Steven; Griffiths (Scepovic 19).
Not used: Bailly, Rogic, Bitton, McGregor

ROSS COUNTY (4-5-1) Fox; Fraser, Davies, Boyd, Forster; Murdoch (De Vita 56), McShane (Graham 85), Irvine Quinn, Gardyne; Curran (Boyce 70).
Not used: Bachman, Robertson, Holden, Franks


CLBmEJBWoAAsA1p

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

CELTIC…1
(Boyata 82)

FK QARABAG…0

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,


STJARNANvCELTIC

Samsung Stadium
Reykjavik, Iceland
UEFA Champions League second qualifying round

FC STJARNAN…1
(Finsen 7)

CELTIC….4
(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


celtic-vs-stjarnan-gardabaer

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

CELTIC…2
(Boyata 45, Johansen 56)

FC STJARNAN…0

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


Season 2014-15 Ends hh


0BYf96YCEGcsFsm3BIyrEJWedp0ancquWfxP9oSZKfs

Official Match Report

Scottish Premiership
Celtic Park, Glasgow
Sunday, May 24, 2015

CELTIC…5
(Scepovic 5, 70 Johansen 18, Griffiths 80, Commons 89)

INVERNESS CALEY THISTLE…0

CELTIC signed off their season in style, thumping Inverness Caley Thistle 5-0 on the day that Paradise celebrated a fourth successive title triumph.Stefan Scepovic bagged a brace on his first start in nearly six months, book-ending Stefan Johansen’s 13th goal of the season as the Hoops played with the authority of champions.Clinical finishes from substitutes Leigh Griffiths and Kris Commons sealed the victory in the final 10 minutes as the volume was cranked up ahead of the post-match trophy presentation.And after Ronny Deila and Scott Brown addressed the Hoops faithful on the pitch, thanking them for their brilliant backing throughout the campaign, former Celt Harald Brattbakk – given a hero’s welcome on his return to Celtic Park – handed the silverware over to the skipper to get the title party into full swing.The inclusion of Scepovic was one of six changes to the team that drew with St Johnstone last Friday night. Craig Gordon, Virgil van Dijk, Emilio Izaguirre, Nir Bitton and Johansen were also restored to the side, with Lukasz Zaluska, Efe Ambrose, Kieran Tierney,Commons, Gary Mackay-Steven and Griffiths dropping out.

It only took Scepovic five minutes to make his mark on the contest as he opened the scoring amid some confusion.Liam Polworth was penalised for pulling back Johansen down the right. The Norwegian swung the resultant free-kick towards the back post, and it was headed back across goal by Virgil van Dijk. Both Nir Bitton and Scepovic were on hand to apply the finish, but it was the latter who got the decisive touch.Greeted by a Guard of Honour from the visitors, and roared on by a bumper crowd, Celtic had started with gusto and they almost quickly doubled their advantage as Izaguirre’s cross was headed towards his own goal by an Inverness defender, whose blushes were spared by Carl Tremarco on the line.After Tarmo Kink had fired wide for the Highlanders on a rare foray forward, the Hoops launched a swift breakaway, culminating in Scepovic’s first-time shot being blocked by Ryan Esson.It was one-way traffic as the hosts offered up some vibrant, flowing football, typified by a flowing move down the left in the 16th minute.

After a swift exchange of passes, Brown set Izaguirre scampering into the box with a deft back-heel, and the Honduran’s centre was inches away from the lurking Scepovic.A similar move, moments later, proved more profitable. Again, the enterprising Izaguirre burst into the box, and his precise cutback was swept into the corner by Johansen.The Bhoys continued to probe for further reward, forcing the beleaguered visitors into some desperate defending as a series of crosses flew into the box from either flank, with Adam Matthews and Izaguirre prominent.And it took some unconventional – and illegal – defending to prevent Celtic adding a third. Having collected a corner, Bittton scooped the ball back into the mix, which van Dijk headed towards goal. But the outstretched arm of Danny Williams diverted the ball beyond the post. However, referee Kevin Clancy missed the offence.Maintaining their dominance either side of half-time, it only seemed a matter of time before Ronny Deila’s men added to their tally.

The clearest opening in this period came the way of Armstrong but the former Dundee United man couldn’t keep his shot down after connecting with James Forrest’s cutback.The pace of proceedings dipped as Celtic knocked the ball around in the May sunshine and Inverness defended in depth.However, the match exploded into life again in the 70th minute as Scepovic grabbed his second of the game. Johansen found Forrest in the box with a precise pass and the winger’s low delivery was met by Scepovic, who made no mistake.That was the signal for the home crowd to crank up the volume once again, and they had further reason to cheer as substitute Griffiths inflicted further punishment on the visitors, drilling a shot into the far corner just minutes after entering the fray.With just seconds remaining on the clock, Commons ensured Celtic finished, fiitingly, with a flourish. Izaguirre drove forward with purpose and picked out the attacker on the edge of the area. He took a touch and then rifled a right-foot shot beyond Esson.It was the perfect prelude to the much-awaited trophy presentation, started by Stevie Frail’s victorious Youth Cup final squad, as the manager and the players took the salute of the crowd to bring another successful season to a close for the Scottish Champions.

CELTIC (4-2-3-1) Gordon; Matthews (Mulgrew 68), Denayer, van Dijk, Izaguirre; Brown, Bitton; Forrest, Johansen, Armstrong (Commons 68); Scepovic
Not Used: Zaluska, Ambrose, Stokes, Mackay-Steven

INVERNESS CALEY THISTLE (4-3-3) Esson; Horner, Warren, Devine, Tremarco; Vincent, Polworth, Williams; Christie (Doran 62), Kink (Sutherland 75) Ross
Not Used: Mackay, Brown, Watkins


533x300xfull-match-st-johnstone-vs-celtic.png.pagespeed.ic.05VM0yVry0


SPFL Premiership
McDiarmid Park, Perth
Friday, May 15, 2015

ST JOHNSTONE…0
CELTIC…0

CELTIC played out a gripping but goal-less draw with St Johnstone tonight as the Hoops maintained their unbeaten record this season at McDiarmid Park.Both teams played with a high tempo which provided the crowd with an entertaining spectacle but neither side could find the killer pass or touch to grab a winner.Lukasz Zaluska was a stand-out for the Bhoys, particularly in the first half when his saves kept the champions in the match but the Celts couldn’t build on his good work to gather three points.

With the league title already wrapped up, Ronny Deila took the opportunity to shuffle his pack and introduce some fresh faces to the starting line-up. Most notable among the six changes was the inclusion of 17-year-old Kieran Tierney, who made his full debut for the Hoops after previously making a substitute appearance against Dundee at the end of April.
Zaluska also made his first appearance since replacing Craig Gordon in the Scottish Cup semi-final at Hampden and he emerged as the hero in what panned out to be an exciting first-half.

St Johnstone started the match confidently and Michael O’Halloran tested Zaluska with an early low cross to the six yard box but the Polish shot-stopper gathered comfortably.
Celtic had early chances as well, the best of them falling to Leigh Griffiths after Efe Ambrose rose well to flick on Stuart Armstrong’s corner, but Alan Mannus saved on the line.Zaluska was called into action again after Murray Davidson poked a shot at goal which looked bound for the back of the net but the Celtic keeper got a strong hand to the effort at full stretch.

The hosts then passed up a string of guilt-edged chances to take the lead. The first fell to Swanson who wasted a free header in the box after a cross in from the right before Ambrose was forced to clear off the line after Swanson’s corner was headed down in the box.O’Halloran also had a free header on 23 minutes but he too misjudged his effort. The striker was guilty again of passing up a goalscoring chance when he capitalised on a slip from Ambrose to burst free into the box on 27 minutes but Zaluska rushed out his box and made a solid stop.

Celtic’s best chance after that came from Kris Commons who gathered the ball in space for the first time 20 yards out on 33 minutes but he couldn’t find the target.
Zaluska then denied the home side again when he saved a shot from Swanson in the box and got to his feet again to block Davidson’s rebound at the near post with 10 minutes left before half-time.Scott Brown then saw a header cleared off the line on 40 minutes before he set Griffiths free with a brilliant ball over the top but the striker was forced wide and his cut-back to Commons in the area fell behind the attacker.

Charlie Mulgrew replaced Jason Denayer in defence for the start of the second-half, marking the Scotland internationalist’s first appearance since a 1-0 win over Partick Thistle at Celtic Park on December 3 last year.But it was the home side who carved out the first opening when Tom Scobbie won a free header in the box but the shot was palmed away by Zaluska.Celtic began to enjoy more possession on the hour mark and they tried to take the sting out of the game by playing patiently and waiting for an opening.

Gaps then began to appear in the Saints defence, allowing Armstrong to thread a neat ball in to Brown to shoot but the skipper’s effort went over. The lively James Forrest then used his pace to beat Brian Easton on the wing and play a ball into the box but Commons couldn’t get on the end of the cross.Celtic were dangerous on the break, though, and almost caught the Perth side out with a lightening quick counter-attack but Griffiths’ final pass was cleared before Commons could reach it.Tierney’s night came to an end on 67 minutes when he was replaced by Emilio Izaguirre and the Bhoys almost found the opener immediately after when Mulgrew forced Mannus into a goal-line stop after Armstrong’s accurate free-kick.

The match drew to a tense finish with both teams throwing men forward in search of what would most likely be a winner, leaving space at the back.O’Halloran called Zaluska into action again with a testing shot from inside the area after getting round Matthews but the Hoops keeper was equal to the effort.Celtic then had Izaguirre to thank when the Honduran blocked a shot from Anderson on the line after a Saints corner.The Hoops should have then sealed the win when they hooked the ball clear from the corner to set Forrest scampering free of the home defence and clear on goal with just minutes left.

The winger rounded Scobbie and did the same to Mannus but he seemed to stumble as he aimed his shot which forced the ball wide with the goal gaping.St Johnstone made their final change as they too chased the winner by introducing Simon Lappin for the spritely Swanson and they almost got it when Davidson rattled a shot off Zaluska’s post but the Hoops survived to claim a share of the spoils.

CELTIC (4-2-3-1) Zaluska; Matthews, Ambrose, Denayer (Mulgrew 46), Tierney (Izaguirre 67); Brown, Armstrong; Forrest, Commons (Scepovic 70), Mackay-Steven; Griffiths
Not used: Fasan, Guidetti, Rogic, Fisher

ST JOHNSTONE: Mannus; Scobbie, Anderson, Millar , MacLean (McFadden 73); Wotherspoon, Swanson (Lappin 86), Davidson, Miller (Caddis 69); Easton, O’Halloran
Not used: Banks, Wright, Graham, Kane


images

SPFL Premiership
Pittodrie, Aberdeen
Sunday, May 10, 2015

ABERDEEN…0
CELTIC…1
(Brown 49)

CELTIC celebrated their fourth title success in a row with a hard-fought 1-0 win over Aberdeen at Pittodrie.The Bhoys were forced to defend for large parts of the game as the Dons sought to underline their credentials as genuine title challengers but a goal from Scott Brown just four minutes into the second half sealed the three points for Ronny Deila’s champions and gave the travelling support some reasons to cheer after their long trip north.

The Hoops made two changes to the team which thrashed Dundee 5-0 last Friday by giving Darnell Fisher his first competitive start of the season at right back and switching Gary Mackay-Steven with Stuart Armstrong on the left wing.The Celtic support whipped up a party atmosphere as the champions were welcomed onto the pitch with a guard of honour from the home side but the pleasantries were dispensed with immediately as the two teams who challenged for the title all season got the game underway.

Celtic went forward straight from the centre but Aberdeen quickly won possession and played the ball down the Hoops’ right flank, testing Fisher early on. Barry Robson managed to find space to fire off the first shot of the game inside two minutes but Craig Gordon had the dig covered all the way.Aberdeen had most of the ball for the opening 15 minutes but Celtic looked dangerous on the break. Leigh Griffiths got in behind the Dons defence on a number of occasions but he was flagged off each time.

Robson then let fly from distance again as the Pittodrie side continued to push forward but Gordon watched the effort go wide. The Hoops defence was then called into action again after another threatening move brought the Dons forward on the right but Fisher was at the back post to nod McLean’s cross clear.Former Hoops midfielder Robson then got yet another chance on goal with a shot straight from a free-kick 20 yards out but Gordon saved again.

Celtic’s first real threatening move of the game came on 23 minutes down the right when Kris Commons intercepted a pass in midfield and sped off down the flank but his cross in to the middle was sent clear by Ash Taylor.The game settled down on the half hour mark as Aberdeen’s initial enthusiasm subsided with good play from the Bhoys in defence.
Izaguirre played Johansen through on 37 minutes as the Bhoys finally beat the offside trap but the Norwegian’s chipped shot was palmed over by Scott Brown in goal for a corner.

The set-piece caused panic in the Dons area but it wasn’t enough to create a goal-scoring chance for the champions.Fisher then fizzed a wicked shot over the bar after great set-up play by Griffiths on the edge of the box as the Hoops finally began to click into gear but it wasn’t enough to test Brown before half time.The game burst back into life again after the restart with Niall McGinn firing a shot at Gordon after a slip from Jason Denayer before Johansen chased down an Aberdeen back pass but he blocked Brown’s clearance with his arm and a free kick was awarded.

The deadlock was then broken by Celtic in emphatic fashion on 49 minutes as they came forward with a brilliant counter attacking move.Armstrong picked the ball up on the left wing and drove into the box where he duped Shay Logan with a drop of the shoulder and played a perfect pass into the six yard box for the Celtic skipper to slide the ball beyond his namesake and give the champions the lead.The strike sparked wild scenes of celebration in the away end but the home fans were incensed.

Celtic took the chance to freshen the side up not long after the opener when Adam Matthews replaced Fisher with roughly half an hour left. Aberdeen also switched Adam Rooney with David Goodwillie as they sought a reply.It was Celtic who should have doubled their lead moments after, however, when a quick ball over the top found Griffiths in space but his right-footed shot brought out a good block from Brown before he got back to his feet to deny Commons as well.

The Hoops were in the ascendency and Aberdeen’s attempts to push forward left them open at the back. Johansen looked to exploit that when he broke forward from midfield but he was barged off the ball by Robson, who was cautioned by the referee.Jonny Hayes then received a yellow card for a late challenge on Jason Denayer deep in Celtic territory as the frustrations of the home team threatened to boil over.The Dons were still in control of most of the ball and they continued to put pressure on the Hoops backline.

Izaguirre did well to clear a cross at the back post on 65 minutes to give Aberdeen a corner, which Nir Bitton headed clear only for McGinn to blast over.The home side were still open on the counter attack, though, and Johansen almost caught them out at the back again but he was crashed into by Considine as Celtic looked to attack, with the Aberdeen defender booked for the tackle.The threat from the Pittodrie side continued as the clock counted down and McGinn wasted a good chance to test Gordon when he cut inside from the left and shot at goal but his effort curled well wide.

Armstrong and Brown then did well to keep Celtic in front when they made consecutive vital clearances as Aberdeen turned the screw.With 10 minutes to go Ronny Deila made a double change by bringing on Efe Ambrose and James Forrest for Armstrong and Commons but Aberdeen continued to push forward.Five minutes of injury time gave the home team even further impetus to push for a goal but some fine defensive play from Celtic in the closing minutes kept Derek McInnes’ side at bay and gave the Hoops the win.

CELTIC (4-2-3-1) Gordon; Fisher (Matthews 57), Denayer, van Dijk, Izaguirre; Brown, Bitton; Commons (Forrest 81), Johansen, Armstrong (Ambrose 81); Griffiths
Not used: Zaluska, Scepovic, Mackay-Steven, Rogic.

ABERDEEN (4-5-1) Brown; Logan, Considine, Taylor, Reynolds; McLean, McGinn, Hayes, Robson (Pawlett 69), Jack (Shankland 87); Rooney (Goodwillie 57)
Not used: Langfield, Flood, Smith, Daniels


_63063855_sspl_celvdee_230912_web.tra


OFFICIAL MATCH REPORT

Scottish Premiership
Celtic Park
Friday, May 1, 2015

CELTIC…5
(Griffiths 30, Brown 37, Commons pen. 71, Forrest 77, Bitton 90)

DUNDEE…0

CELTIC stand on the brink of a fourth successive title after destroying Dundee 5-0 in Paradise to move 11 points clear of second-placed Aberdeen. And the Hoops could be confirmed as champions as early as tomorrow (Saturday) should Aberdeen fail to defeat Dundee United at Tannadice.Ronny Deila’s side certainly played with the authority of champions as they swept aside the Dens Park side with a dazzling display of vibrant, attacking football, delivering a Friday night football feast for the home support.

Leigh Griffiths deservedly headed the Hoops in front from the outstanding Emilio
Izaguirre’s cross before Scott Brown doubled the advantage before half-time.Kris Commons added number three from the penalty spot after substitute Darnell Fisher had been fouled by Stephen McGinn in the box and James Forrest slotted home a fourth five minutes later.Nir Bitton reserved the best goal of the night until the closing seconds of the match, crashing a shot into the top corner from long range.Ronny Deila had made two changes to the team that dispatched Dundee United at Tannadice last week, restoring Gary Mackay-Steven and Efe Ambrose to the starting XI at the expense of Stuart
Armstrong and Adam Matthews.

It was through the promptings of left-back Izaguirre that the Hoops made their first incursions towards the visitors’ goal.In the fifth minute, the Honduran played in Scott Brown, whose low cross flashed across goal, before he found Griffiths in a similar position with a crisp pass, the striker firing wide from an acute angle.Similar to Kilmarnock’s conservative approach in Celtic’s last home fixture, Dundee had set up defensively, encamped across their 18-yard box whenever the home side attacked.But the Hoops managed to bypass this sea of dark blue shirts with a slick counter-attack. Kris Commons’ long pass found Griffiths racing down the left. He fed Mackay-Steven, who in turn supplied Johansen, but the Norwegian couldn’t keep his curling shot on target.

As the Dens Park side continued to sit back, Virgil van Dijk was tempted to try his luck from distance, the defender shooting wide.Ronny Deila’s side should then have had a chance to break the deadlock from the penalty spot after Kevin Thomson sent Johansen sprawling in the box, but referee Bobby Madden was unmoved.Celtic’s frustrations were growing but on the half-hour mark they broke the visitors’ resistance – and the scorer was no surprise. Izaguirre looked up and delivered a wonderful cross from the left and Griffiths rose above his markers and powered a header beyond Scott Bain.

Van Dijk had another piledriver charged down, before Luka Tankulic’s ambitious long-range effort at the other end was comfortably gathered by Craig Gordon.In the 37th minute, the Hoops doubled their lead with a well-worked goal. Griffiths and Commons combined and the latter picked out Brown in the box. The captain took a touch before burying a shot into the corner.Celtic could now afford to play with freedom and flair and they threatened to add to their tally as half-time approached.The lively Griffiths came close to capitalising on some hesitant defending from Thomas Konrad and Bain, before Izaguirre saw a shot blocked after Mackay-Steven had attempted to wriggle clear in the box.

From the resultant corner, Commons collected a return pass from Izaguirre nutmegged a defender on the byline and blasted over.Although Paul Hartley’s side show greater ambition after the restart, the Hoops continued to boss possession. The away side did have the first effort of the half, with Willie Dyer pulling the trigger from distance but Gordon was never troubled.Van Dijk headed wide from Commons’ corner and then the Dutchman curled a shot wide after thrusting inside from the left as the Bhoys started to rediscover their cutting edge. On the hour-mark, Mackay-Steven did well to dig out a cross from the left which Konrad could only partially clear.

It fell to Johansen who fired over.Bain then had to be out quickly to deny Mackay-Steven as he chased a through ball, before the manager made a double change, sending on Forrest and Fisher for Johansen and Ambrose.Dundee’s defence was creaking again as van Dijk was within inches of Izaguirre’s cross and Brown had a goal ruled out after Griffiths was deemed to have fouled Bain.But then the substitutes had the desired impact. Fisher, showing plenty of enterprise since coming on, was pushed in the back by Stephen McGinn as he chased a ball into the box. Referee Madden pointed to the spot and Commons

confidently converted.Paradise was in full voice and they were given further reason to cheer when Forrest added number four with 13 minutes left on the clock. An incisive Celtic breakaway saw Commons send the winger scampering clear and he clinically slid the ball into the far corner beyond Bain.Commons, Izaguirre and Mackay-Steven had further efforts, before Tankulic drilled wide for the visitors.But the last word went the way of a rampant Celtic and Bitton in particular. Picking up the ball 30 yards from goal, he took aim and lashed home a stunning strike as Bain stood rooted to the spot.

CELTIC (4-2-3-1) Gordon; Ambrose (Fisher 65), Denayer, van Dijk, Izaguirre; Brown, Bitton; Commons, Johansen (Forrest 65), Mackay-Steven; Griffiths (Scepovic 75)
Not Used: Zaluska, Guidetti, Stokes, Armstrong,

DUNDEE (4-5-1) Bain; P. McGinn, McPake, Konrad, Dyer; Harris (Colquhoun 61) Ferry (Heffernan 71, Clarkson 90), S. McGinn, Thomson, McAlister; Tankulic
Not Used: Letheren, Irvine, Kostadin Gadzhalov, Harkins


_57120567_sspl_dunvcel_041211_web

SPFL Premiership
Tannadice
Sunday, April 26, 2015

DUNDEE UNITED…0

CELTIC…3
(Griffiths 47, 65, 84)

A SECOND-HALF hat-trick from Leigh Griffiths gave Celtic a 3-0 victory over Dundee United and restored the Hoops’ eight-point lead at the top of the Premiership table with just four games remaining.A well-taken finish two minutes into the second-half from the striker was added to with a close-range strike and a late penalty to give the Bhoys a solid win on the road and see the front man take his goal tally to 18 for the season.The goals came after a lacklustre first half which saw the Celts struggle to create many openings against a well-drilled United side, but the win was merited with a dominant second-half performance.

Ronny Deila made three changes for the second trip to Dundee in the space of a week, with Stefan Johansen, Kris Commons and Adam Matthews all coming in for Gary Mackay-Steven, James Forrest and Efe Ambrose following Wednesday’s 2-1 win over Paul Hartley’s Dundee side.The Hoops started the game in controlled fashion, winning the ball back from United after an early period of possession from the home side before easing into their passing style in the opening 10 minutes.Jackie McNamara’s side were in confident mood, however, and they looked to expose Celtic on the break.

An early foray forward from Charlie Telfer won the home side a free-kick in a good area but they couldn’t capitalise on the chance.Izaguirre then got a shot away at the other end after collecting a pass at the left of the box but he pulled his effort wide. Virgil van Dijk then rose well to meet Stuart Armstrong’s corner from the left but his header curled over.The best chance in the early stages fell to United and Craig Gordon had to make a fingertip save to push a thumping drive from Robbie Muirhead over the crossbar.

Celtic also had good chances to take the lead at the other end when Commons had a shot deflected in the area before van Dijk was denied from close-range.Scott Brown was booked just after the half-hour mark for a tackle on Rankin but the Bhoys sparked back into life on 35 minutes, with a Commons volley blocked before the deflected effort fell to Griffiths, who won a corner.If the first half was disappointing for the Bhoys they more than made up for it within two minutes of the restart when they strode into the lead after a beautiful flowing move.

The Hoops retained the ball from kick-off and spread it out wide to Armstrong on the left flank. He drove towards the box and played the ball to Johansen 20 yards out.The Norwegian controlled and laid it off to Brown in the area before he returned it to Johansen, who looked up and saw Griffiths in space at the right-hand side of the box.The striker took a touch to compose himself before riffling home with his right foot beyond Cierzniak to bag his 16th goal of the season.The Polish keeper then pulled out one of the saves of the season when he stopped a Commons header from six yards with one hand when the ball seemed destined for the top corner.

Cierzniak then denied Celtic again when a clever dummy from Commons allowed Johansen to shoot inside the box.United were not out, however, and forced Denayer to make a saving tackle at full stretch to flick a cross from the left out the box.The Hoops went back on the attack and an intelligent turn from Commons outside the box drew a foul but there was unfortunately no magic from van Dijk this time, who scored from a similar area against Dundee on Wednesday.Gary Mackay-Steven then replaced Armstrong as Ronny Deila aimed to test the tiring legs of the Terrors players. The winger got straight into action but it was Griffiths who added to Celtic’s lead just moments later.

Commons swung in a corner from the left which Morris headed on to his own post before it fell to the feet of the Hoops striker in the six-yard box.He prodded the ball over the line before Cierzniak clawed it back out, only for Griffiths to place the ball beyond the keeper again, leaving the goal in no doubt.The action was not over, however, as Mackay-Steven rattled a shot off the crossbar before a surging run from the winger was halted unfairly by Rankin as he bore down on goal and the referee awarded a penalty with five minutes left.
Commons unselfishly gave the spot-kick to Griffiths who, after a prolonged wait, stroked the ball confidently beyond Cierzniak and secured his hat-trick as the Hoops took another step closer to the title.

CELTIC (4-2-3-1) Gordon; Matthews (Ambrose 68), Denayer, van Dijk, Izaguirre; Brown, Bitton; Commons, Johansen (Forrest 71), Armstrong (Mackay-Steven 60); Griffiths.Not used: Zaluska, Guidetti, Scepovic, Tierney

DUNDEE UNITED (4-2-3-1) Cierzniak; McGowan, Fojut, Morris, Dixon; Souttar, Rankin; Erskine (Anier 85), Telfer (Coote 68), Spittal (Connolly 79); Muirhead.
Not used: Szromnik, Dillon, Spark, Smith.


938x351-dundee


Official Match Report

Scottish Premiership Dens Park, Dundee

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

DUNDEE…1 (McAlister 88)

CELTIC…2 (Mackay-Steven 32, Van Dijk 64)

CELTIC stretched their lead at the league summit to eight points after a dominant 2-1 victory over Dundee at Dens Park.Gary Mackay-Steven’s thumping strike put the Hoops ahead in the 32nd minute, before Virgil can Dijk doubled the lead in the second half with another sublime set-piece.As the clock ticked down, Jim McAlister struck a late consolation for the home side, but it was too late to threaten Celtic’s grip on the three points.After the disappointment and frustration of the extra-time loss to Inverness Caley Thistle in Sunday’s Scottish Cup semi-final, the victory was a welcome fillip for the champions and the travelling support as they put greater distance between themselves and second-placed Aberdeen.

Stuart Armstrong and Mackay-Steven were both restored to the starting XI after being cup-tied for the Scottish Cup semi-final defeat to the Highlanders.They replaced Kris Commons and Stefan Johansen in the side, with the former named among the substitutes.Efe Ambrose also came in at right-back at the expense of Adam Matthews as Ronny Deila made three changes to the team that endured Hampden heartache.As he was at the National Stadium, James Forrest was Celtic’s main threat in the opening exchanges, looking to run at his opposite number Paul McGinn at every opportunity.However, space was at a premium for the winger and every player on the pitch as both teams fought for supremacy.

As the initial frenzy settled down, however, the Hoops started to exert greater control on proceedings, fashioning the first shot on goal in the 12th minute when Armstrong’s corner was only partially cleared and Mackay-Steven volleyed over.It was from another Armstrong corner seven minutes later that the visitors forced Scott Bain into action as Virgil van Dijk’s towering header was comfortably held by the Dundee keeper.With the home side packing their defence, Jason Denayer took matters into his own hands, rifling over from 30 yards after surging forward from the back.

Paul Hartley’s side were content to hit on the break, but aside from a promising attack down the right through Greg Stewart, which amounted to nothing, it was a strategy that failed to trouble Celtic.And as the half wore on, the dominant Hoops began to fashion further opportunities. A hanging cross from Ambrose was spilled by Bain, and when Forrest attempted to reach the loose ball, he went down under the challenge in the box. Referee Calum Murray was unmoved.

Leigh Griffiths then fired into the side-netting after a cross from the enterprising Emilio Izaguirre had been knocked towards the far post.Just past the half-hour mark, the champions made their pressure count. After Mackay-Steven was felled in full-flight, the referee pulled the play back and awarded a free-kick. Armstrong’s set-piece was knocked back towards the edge of the box by van Dijk for the onrushing Mackay-Steven, who made no mistake.Moving the ball around with greater pace and purpose against an increasingly beleaguered home defence, the Bhoys threatened to add to their tally before the break – Griffiths blasted over from distance and a Mackay-Steven cutback evaded any Celtic attackers.And the stroke of half-time, Bain denied Forrest after Nir Bitton’s shot had ricocheted into his path inside the box.

There was no shift in momentum as the second half got underway. A precise pass from Scott Brown released Bitton in acres of space. He found Griffiths in the box but James McPake managed to charge his shot down.Bitton lashed narrowly wide from 20 yards, before McPake finally registered a shot on target for the hosts, though it was a comfortable stop for Craig Gordon.At the other end, Bain had to be at his best to thwart Griffiths after the striker had met Forrest’s cutback with a crisp first-time shot.And as Dundee committed more men forward in search of a leveller, it only gave the Hoops greater gaps to exploit on the counter-attack – and they soon took full advantage.Another piercing breakaway from the Bhoys saw Armstrong taken out by a desperate McPake on the edge of the box. Just like he did on Sunday, van Dijk stepped up and smashed the resultant free-kick into the net, giving Bain no chance.

In complete command of the match, Celtic continued to boss proceedings, determined not to let Hartley’s side find a glimmer of hope.The state of play allowed the manager to make a raft of changes, which included sending on 17-year-old Kieran Tierney for his competitive debut, a memorable moment for the Celtic Youth Academy player.Luka Tankulic spurned a good chance to reduce arrears for the Dens Park side, scooping a shot under pressure from Ambrose.McAlister did provide some late cheer for the home fans with a consolation strike as the clock ticked down, but the Bhoys held firm to seal the spoils and remain in pole position ahead of the post-split fixtures.

CELTIC (4-2-3-1) Gordon; Ambrose, Denayer, van Dijk, Izaguirre (Tierney 81); Brown, Bitton; Mackay-Steven, Armstrong, Forrest (Commons 76); Griffiths (Guidetti 76) Not Used: Zaluska, Stokes, Scepovic,, Fisher,

DUNDEE (4-2-3-1) Bain; McGinn, McPake, Konrad, Dyer; Ferry (Davidson 69), McGinn; Stewart, McAlister, Harris (Tankulic 59); Heffernan


images (4)


William Hill Scottish Cup semi-final

Hampden Park, Glasgow Sunday, April 19, 2015

CELTIC…2 (Van Dijk 18, Guidetti 103)

INVERNESS CALEY THISTLE…3 (Tansey pen. 58, Ofore 96, Raven 116)

TEN-MAN Celtic were left frustrated at a controversial refereeing decision as their Scottish Cup dream was extinguished at Hampden after 3-2 extra-time defeat to Inverness Caley Thistle.Virgil van Dijk had put the Hoops in command when his fantastic free-kick found the net in the 18th minute.And they should have doubled the lead on the stroke of half-time when Leigh Griffiths’ goal-bound header was prevented from going in by Josh Meekings’ hand. Referee Steven McLean’s failure to award a penalty and dismiss the Inverness player left the Hoops players flabbergasted.

That decision took on huge significance as Craig Gordon was given his marching orders early in the second half for bringing down Marley Watkins, with Greg Tansey converting the penalty to equalise.As the game entered extra-time, Inverness struck first though Edward Ofere but substitute John Guidetti hauled Celtic level with a thunderous set-piece. But as the clock ticked down, the Highlanders won it as David Raven swept home from Graeme Shinnie’s cutback.Griffiths was restored to the starting XI at the expense of Guidetti after the striker had bagged a treble to crush Kilmarnock on Wednesday night.

That was only the change to the team that lined up against the Rugby Park side as Ronny Deila’s men attempted to reach another showpiece and keep their treble dreams alive. Prior to facing the Ayrshire outfit, the Hoops had been held by the Highlanders, a timely reminder that the champions would face a rigorous examination this afternoon.And it was John Hughes’ side who made the more positive start to proceedings, pressing high up the pitch and looking to take the initiative.

Adam Matthews was forced into an early foul on Graeme Shinnie, presenting Tansey with the first sight of goal from the resultant free-kick, the midfielder firing over from 30 yards. But, after repelling that early assault, Celtic began to exert control and make inroads into the opposition defence.A purposeful burst from Forrest down the left created some space for Stefan Johansen to power towards the box and only a last-gasp challenge from Gary Warren blocked his final effort.

In the 13th minute, Nir Bitton almost opened the scoring in spectacular style as he smashed a first-time shot from 20 yards off the upright with Ryan Esson rooted to the spot.The Inverness shot- stopper was quickly called into action again, springing to his left to halt Griffiths’ pile-driver.Forrest had been prominent in the opening exchanges, the winger’s explosive pace and movement giving right-back Raven a torrid time.And another enterprising run from the Scotland internationalist was the precursor to the Hoops breaking the deadlock.

After Warren had sent Forrest tumbling to the ground on the edge of the box, referee Steven McLean booked the defender and awarded a free-kick, which van Dijk brilliantly dispatched via the post.Emboldened by the Dutchman’s moment of magic, the Bhoys set about their task with renewed enthusiasm. A burst of acceleration from Griffiths took him to the byline but his cutback has no takers and Brown had a stinging shot from distance saved by Esson.Still, they weren’t having it completely their own way, with the Caley Jags showing plenty of fighting spirit, and they could have levelled the match had Edward Ofere not missed from close range after a the ball had dropped invitingly for him following a corner.

The clearer opportunities were falling for Ronny Deila’s side, however, with Johansen forcing Esson into action after collecting Griffith’s lay-off in the box.A raking pass over the top from van Dijk nearly put Commons in, before the 31-year-old was denied by a fingertip save from Esson.Just before the break, the match burst into life again as controversy reared its head. Moments after Warren headed wide from a corner for Inverness, Johansen was played in following a rapid Celtic breakaway.Although the Norwegian’s lofted shot was pushed away by Esson, Griffiths was on hand to header the rebound on target. A goal would have been guaranteed until the intervention of Meekings’ outstretched hand. Inexplicably, the officials missed it and play raged on.

However, despite their frustrations, Celtic still had an iron-grip on the game as the second half restarted. A crisp, passing move culminated in Commons moving the ball wide to Forrest, who cut inside and saw his effort deflected wide. This all changed in the 55th minute as the Hoops were reduced to 10 men.A lightning counter-attack from Inverness left the Celtic defence exposed. Watkins beat Adam Matthews for speed and was brought down by Gordon. Referee Steven McLean pointed to the spot and produced the red card for the shot-stopper.Forrest was sacrificed to bring Lukasz Zaluska on but the Polish keeper unable to prevent Tansey levelling the match from the spot.

Roared on by the Hoops faithful, though, Celtic battled on. Griffiths headed an Izaguirre cross on target from an acute angle, before Johansen’s audacious attempt from 40 yards brought out a save from Esson.At the other end, Watkins fired narrowly wide and Zaluska made a comfortable stop from Tansey’s set-piece as the game became increasingly stretched and tension mounted.With neither side able to find a late winner, the match entered extra-time and it was Hoops, who fashioned the first chance as Johansen’s scooped pass was met by substitute Aleksandar Tonev, who volleyed wide.Zaluska then made a smart stop from Ryan Christie’s thumping drive but he was left helpless as Ofere handed the Highlanders the lead.

Tansey teed-up the forward following a hanging cross from the left and he made no mistake, rifling a shot into the corner.However, the ten men rallied in adversity and it only took them seven minutes to cancel that out. Brown was sent sprawling by a combination of Ross Draper and Nick Ross and substitute Guidetti, only on the field a matter of minutes, lashed in the resultant free-kick from 25 yards. Cue bedlam.

Ross spurned a golden chance for the Caley Jags, hooking a shot over after Zaluska was unable to claim a cross, while Tonev and Guidetti fired over for Celtic.But with only three minutes left on the clock, Inverness grabbed the winner as Raven found the net from Shinnie’s low centre. It was a cruel blow for the battling Bhoys, who will now turn their attentions to clinching the title and sealing a domestic double.

CELTIC (4-2-3-1) Gordon (Zaluska 56); Matthews, Denayer, van Dijk, Izaguirre; Brown, Bitton; Commons (Tonev 90), Johansen, Forrest; Griffiths (Guidetti 98) Not Used: Ambrose, Scepovic, McGregor, Tierney

INVERNESS CALEY THISTLE (4-4-2) Esson; Raven, Warren, Meekings, Shinnie; Christie, Draper, Tansey, Williams (Ross 74); Ofere, Watkins Not Used: Mackay, Vincent, Doran, Tremarco, Polworth, Kink


download

Scottish Premiership

Celtic Park, Glasgow Wednesday, April 15,2015

CELTIC…4 (Commons 58, Griffiths 65,80, 85)

KILMARNOCK…1 (Westlake 50)

SUPER-SUB Leigh Griffiths hammered in a stunning 20-minute hat-trick as Celtic came from behind to crush Kilmarnock 4-1 in Paradise and move eight points clear in the title race.After the Hoops had dominated matters without reward, the visitors stunned Paradise by breaking the deadlock with their first effort on goal five minutes into the second half as Darryl Westlake’s shot from distance deflected into the net.However, the champions rallied, with Kris Commons swiftly restoring parity with a sublime volley, before Griffiths headed then in front five minutes after entering the fray from the bench.The hit-man lashed in unstoppable shot via the post from 20 yards to ease any nerves among the home support.

But Griffiths wasn’t finished yet, showing his lethal finishing prowess by slotting home his third goal with five minutes remaining on the clock to increase the gap between the Bhoys and second-placed Aberdeen to eight points.Birthday Bhoy John Guidetti was restored to the Celtic starting XI as Ronny Deila made four changes from the team that drew 1-1 against Inverness Caley Thistle at the weekend.Adam Matthews, Commons and James Forrest also came back into the side, with Griffiths, Efe Ambrose, Stuart Armstrong and Gary Mackay-Steven the players to drop out.The Hoops bossed possession from the start, with the Rugby Park side setting their stall out to frustrate the hosts by deploying as many men behind the ball as possible.

A quick exchange of passes between Guidetti and Stefan Johansen almost gave the Swede a sight of goal in the fifth minute, but with the central route to goal congested, the home side increasingly looked to the flanks for a way through.Showing his customary enterprise from left-back, Emilio Izaguirre collected a raking pass on the touchline before picking out Forrest in the box. Despite a heavy-first touch, the winger got a shot away from an acute angle, but Craig Samson was able to divert it behind at the expense of a corner.Forrest almost turned provider in the next menacing attack, racing to the byline, but his final cutback for Johansen was just behind the Norwegian.A foul on Guidetti by Mark O’Hara gave the striker the chance to demonstrate his dead-ball dexterity but the wall did its job, blocking his thumping drive.

On the half-hour mark, Izaguirre again proved a willing outlet, doing brilliantly to dig out a cross from the byline. It was met by Scott Brown in the middle but he couldn’t get his final shot under control.Johansen’s hanging free-kick was then won by Nir Bitton at the far post. He knocked the ball back into the mix but Denayer couldn’t steer his header on target.And it was from a set-piece that Celtic came closest to opening the scoring as Virgil van Dijk rose highest from Commons’ corner to glance a header inches wide of the post.With half-time approaching, a precise pass from Commons did manage to momentarily cut a path through the packed penalty area, but Guidetti was swiftly crowded out before he could pull the trigger as the Hoops’ frustrations grew.

A familiar pattern emerged after the interval as Celtic probed for openings and Gary Locke’s side attempted to keep them at bay.Within two minutes of the restart, Guidetti controlled Forrest’s cross and teed-up Brown, whose low shot was gathered by Samson, before a rampaging run from Bitton provided further roars of encouragement from the Hoops faithful.But, incredibly, it was Kilmarnock who took the lead from their first effort on goal as Darryl Westlake’s shot deflected beyond a helpless Craig Gordon.The pressure was now on Ronny Deila’s men but they provided a quick response. Moments after Guidetti has a shot saved by Samson, Commons pounced to level the match. The Ayrshire outfit could only partially clear a cross into the mix and when the ball looped in the air near the edge of the box, the 31-year-old expertly hooked a volley into the top corner.

Buoyed by their equaliser, it only took Celtic seven minutes to complete the turnaround. Commons lofted in a cross from the byline and Griffiths was on hand to guide a header home at the far post.Sensing a chance to kill off the contest, the hosts were throwing everything at the visitors, with Commons and Griffiths trying their luck, before Johansen spurned a golden chance at the far post after Samson had pushed a shot from Griffiths into his path.However, with 10 minutes remaining, Griffiths ensured the points would be staying in Paradise. Brown rolled the ball into his path 20 yards from goal and his ferocious shot left Samson statuesque as it cannoned in off the post.Gordon made a stunning stop from Nathan Eccleston but the last word went to Griffiths, who steadied himself and steered a shot into the corner to complete his treble and move Celtic closer to a fourth successive championship.

CELTIC (4-2-3-1) Gordon; Matthews, Denayer, van Dijk, Izaguirre; Brown, Bitton; Commons (Armstrong 81), Johansen (Mackay-Steven 81) Forrest (Griffiths 61); Guidetti Not Used: Zaluska, Ambrose, Stokes, McGregor

KILMARNOCK (4-5-1) Samson; O’Hara, Ashcroft, Syme, Westlake; Magennis (McKenzie 74) Slater, Clingan, Cairney (Eccleston 81); Obadeyi; Miller Not Used: Brennan, Barbour, McKenzie, Johnston,


 _48747777_invernessct_celtic_512


Scottish Premiership

Tulloch Caledonian Stadium

Saturday, April 11, 2015

INVERNESS CALEY THITSLE…1 (Ofere 5)

CELTIC…1 (Griffiths 3)

LEIGH Griffiths’ early goal wasn’t enough to secure Celtic victory in the Highlands against a resilient Inverness Caley Thistle side.The frontman rifled in from 18 yards inside the opening three minutes to give Ronny Deila’s side the perfect start at the Tulloch Caledonian Stadium.But the Caley Jags quickly cancelled that out through Edward Ofere, who converted from close range after Jason Denayer had blocked Ryan Christie’s shot on the line.In frankly horrendous windy conditions, the Hoops were unable to proffer a winning goal, despite applying some late pressure.

Griffiths returned to spearhead the Celtic attack as the manager made three changes to the team that defeated Partick Thistle 2-0 on Wednesday night.The striker replaced John Guidetti in the starting XI, with Efe Ambrose and captain Scott Brown also restored to the side, the latter having served his suspension. Adam Matthews and Kris Commons joined Guidetti in dropping to the bench.And it didn’t take long for Griffiths to show his deadly finishing prowess as he fired the Hoops ahead.

Collecting a precise ball over the top from Brown, the hit-man drove at Gary Warren, fashioned a yard of space on the edge of the box and then dispatched a shot into the far corner.But the home side highlighted why they have been flying high this season by mustering an instant reply to draw level. Celtic failed to deal with a cross into the box from the left in the swirling wind and Warren was able to tee-up Ryan Christie at the far post. Although Jason Denayer was able to block his shot on the line, Ofere was on hand to bundle home the loose ball.

Both teams were offering plenty of early enterprise, making for entertaining fare for supporters, and Stuart Armstrong was next to try his luck, dragging a shot wide from 20 yards.It had been a breathless start to proceedings but there was an unfortunate pause in play on the quarter-hour mark as Inverness goalkeeper Dean Brill had to be stretched off after Gary Mackay-Steven had challenged the shot-stopper following an under-hit passback. He was replaced by Ryan Esson.

And the substitute was soon called into action at his near post as Stefan Johansen, so impressive as stand-in skipper in the win over Thistle, fizzed in an angled effort but it was simple stop for the experienced minder.For all of the Highlanders’ earnest the most menacing moves were being instigated by Ronny Deila’s men.A quick interchange of passes saw Brown thrust through the middle and pick out Mackay-Steven on the right but he elected to pick out a team-mate rather than pulling the trigger and chance went amiss.

Brown had a decent strike from distance saved on the half-hour mark but the flow of the game was being increasingly punctuated by fouls as both sides fought for supremacy. And referee Craig Thomson delved into his pocket to produce a flurry of cards, with Josh Meekings and Ofere seeing yellow for the home side and Virgil van Dijk going into the book for the Bhoys.The official was involved again five minutes before the break as he cautioned Ross Draper for persistent fouling after he sent Mackay-Steven tumbling outside the box. From Johansen’s resultant free-kick, Ambrose’s glancing header was tipped over by Esson at full stretch.

The Hoops continued to probe for a second as the half drew to a close. Griffiths sent an ambitious volley over after being found by Mackay-Steven’s delicate pass, before Izaguirre was sent sprawling by Marley Watkins as he arrowed towards the box, leading to a fourth yellow card for the home side. Celtic failed to profit from the free-kick, however. And there was still time for Griffiths to curl a set-piece over from 30 yards after Brown had been hauled back by Greg Tansey, who was perhaps fortunate not to enter the book as well.

The match continued at a frenetic pace after the interval, with Meekings coming close with a header from a corner.Ronny Deila’s side responded with a free-kick from Armstrong which Denayer headed on target, prompting Esson into a smart reaction save. Armstrong took the subsequent corner and his delivery spun agonisingly out of reach of several Celtic attackers.Indeed, with passing problematic amid the blustery conditions, dead-ball situations looked the most likely route of finding the net.

Draper’s foul on Johansen gave van Dijk the chance to try his luck from 20 yards but the wall did its job from the Dutchman’s rasping drive. Brown, typically assertive as he attempted to drive his team on, was denied a penalty claim after going down in the box, seeing yellow for his troubles.As the game entered its closing stages, Izaguirre did well to evade David Raven down the left, and when his cross was only cleared as far as Bitton, the midfielder’s effort was charged down.Commons volleyed over and Tansey came close at the other end as the game remained in the balance.It was the champions who finished the strongest, with Armstrong’s low drive testing Esson but a winner would prove elusive and they had to be satisfied with a share of the spoils.

CELTIC (4-2-3-1) Gordon; Ambrose (Matthews 62), Denayer, van Dijk, Izaguirre; Brown, Bitton; Mackay-Steven (Commons 62), Johansen, Armstrong; Griffiths (Guidetti 78) Not Used: Zaluska, Stokes, McGregor, Tierney

INVERNESS CALEY THISTLE (4-2-3-1) Brill ( Esson 19); Raven, Warren, Meekings, Shinnie; Draper, Tansey; Williams (Vincent 85) Christie (Doran 85) Ofere; Watkins Not Used: Ross, Devine, Tremarco, Kink


download (2)


Scottish Premiership

St Mirren Park, Paisley

Friday, April 3, 2015

ST MIRREN…0

CELTIC…2 (Forrest 64, Johansen pen. 79)

SECOND-HALF goals from James Forrest and Stefan Johansen handed treble-chasing Celtic a valuable 2-0 victory away to St Mirren, extending their lead at the league summit to eight points.After being frustrated by the home side in the opening 45 minutes, Forrest finally found a way through after meeting Adam Matthews’ accurate cutback.And the 23-year-old made a telling contribution to securing the crucial second goal, when his goalbound shot was handled by Victor Genev, allowing Stefan Johansen to seal the spoils from the penalty spot.Anthony Stokes took over the lone striking role at the expense of John Guidetti as the manager made four changes to the team who dispatched Dundee United before the international break. Welshman Matthews returned after a month’s absence through injury to line up at right-back, with Forrest and Kris Commons also restored to the side.

Guidetti, Efe Ambrose, Nir Bitton and Gary Mackay-Steven all dropped to the bench.It only took three minutes for Stokes to serve notice of his threat, the striker controlling a long ball and shooting wide. Operating behind the Irishman, Commons was also finding dangerous pockets of space and he forced goalkeeper Mark Ridgers into early action at his near post with an ambitious effort from an acute angle.With the home side devoting their resources to defence, the Hoops had to wait until the 19th minute for their next effort on goal as Commons danced his way into the box and drove into the side-netting. It took some quick, intricate passing to unlock the Buddies. From the left, Stuart Armstrong picked out the run of Commons into the area with a first-time ball. The 31-year-old hit the target but Ridgers was equal to his effort, with the rebound hacked clear.Craig Gordon has been a virtual spectator at the other end, but he was forced to gather Stephen Mallon’s glancing header on the half-hour mark, though it was a comfortable save for the Scotland internationalist.

However, his opposite number, Ridgers, had to be at his best to make a sharp save from Forrest after the winger had collected a return pass from Stokes.With the breakthrough continue to elude the champions, Gary Teale’s side were growing in confidence and they had a penalty shout correctly waved away as Mallan went to ground in the box, before Yoann Arquin drew a save from Gordon from the resultant loose ball. And they had final effort of the half as Kieran Sadlier’s shot from distance was scooped up by Gordon.Armstrong curled wide from the angle of the box as Celtic began the second half with greater urgency and purpose.

Stokes then tested Ridgers with a low shot after he and Commons had cut path through a ruck of defenders.Forrest had been closely monitored by the Paisley side but he finally found some free space to attack in the 53rd minute, reaching the byline and cutting the ball back.Although a corner was the only reward, the set-piece fell for Commons at the far post, who smashed a shot into the side-netting.While the Bhoys were now playing with greater menace, St Mirren remained alive as an attacking threat, particularly through the adventure of Mallon, whose swerving long-range shot whistled wide.

An attempt from Stokes spun agonisingly wide via a deflection as Ronny Deila’s side reasserted their control of proceedings – and then the opening goal finally arrived.A slick passing move released Matthews down the right and his low delivery was steered home expertly by Forrest in the middle.Having established a lead, the Hoops now stamped their authority on the contest and when they doubled the advantage in the closing stages, Forrest was again to the fore.Another incisive burst into the box saw the winger unleash a shot goalwards. It’s progress was blocked by the outstretched hand of Genev and referee Alan Muir pointed the spot.

Johansen stepped up and confidently sent Ridgers the wrong way from the penalty. That effectively ended St Mirren’s resistance, and the only question was whether if Celtic could add to their tally as the clock ticked down.Forrest flashed a dangerous ball right across the goalmouth, while substitute Gary Mackay-Steven was inches off target with a curling effort as the champions ended a satisfying evening on top, piling the pressure on second-placed Aberdeen ahead of their clash with Partick Thistle tomorrow (Saturday).

CELTIC (4-2-3-1) Gordon; Matthews (Ambrose 65) Denayer, van Dijk, Izaguirre; Brown, Johansen; Forrest, Commons (Mackay-Steven 72), Armstrong (Bitton 65); Stokes. Not Used: Zaluska, Guidetti, Griffiths, McGregor

ST MIRREN (4-1-4-1) Ridgers; Naismith, McAusland, Genev, Tesselaar; Goodwin; Dayton (Thompson 78) Mallon (Sanupe 78) McGinn, Sadlier (Morgan 72); Arquin Not Used: Wilks, Reilly, Kelly, Gow,


#_46371612_celtic_dutd_poster

SPFL Premiership Celtic Park,

Glasgow Saturday, March 21, 2015

CELTIC…3 (Mackay-Steven 15, Guidetti 33, Denayer 45)

DUNDEE UNITED…0

CELTIC capped off their run of four games in a row against Dundee United with a scintillating 3-0 win over the Terrors at Paradise in the SPFL Premiership today (Saturday).A trio of strikes in the first-half from Gary Mackay-Steven, John Guidetti and Jason Denayer put paid to any hopes of Jackie McNamara claiming a victory against Ronny Deila’s side and helped the Hoops go five points clear of Aberdeen in the league with a game in hand.Today’s meeting marked the fourth consecutive game between the sides following their two tussles in the Scottish Cup quarter-final and their League Cup final clash over the past fortnight.The Hoops had emerged victorious in two of those contests, lifting the League Cup in the process, and accomplished that without former Dundee United duo Gary Mackay-Steven and Stuart Armstrong as the pair were cup-tied.

The new Bhoys were eligible for today’s league clash, however, and immediately returned to the starting XI. Stefan Johansen was also restored to the side following suspension and John Guidetti replaced Leigh Griffiths up front.The Bhoys started on the front foot, keen to carry on their good form against McNamara’s side, and it wasn’t long before they raced into the lead when a good move from left to right saw Ambrose receive the ball on the wing from Brown.The Nigerian controlled the pass and picked out Mackay-Steven in acres of space outside the box, giving the talented winger time to take a touch to set his sights before he sent an unstoppable drive with his left foot beyond Cierzniak and into the corner of the net to give the Bhoys the lead.

The patient play continued for Celtic, with United offering very little in attack. Any time the visitors won possession and came forward, Jason Denayer and Virgil van Dijk were on hand to break up play and sweep it back to Craig Gordon before the visitors retreated and the Hoops went on the attack again.The second goal then came just after the half-hour mark when precise passing from the Bhoys found Mackay-Steven and Guidetti on the periphery of the 18-yard box.The pair played a neat one-two before Guidetti let fly with his left foot. His shot took a slight nick off Souttar but it wasn’t enough to take it off target and the ball nestled in the back of the net.A string of bad tackles then came in from United and their lack of discipline became their downfall after Paul Paton scythed down Mackay-Steven just outside the box to give Celtic a dangerous free-kick. The midfielder was booked for his tackle but what followed hurt United much more.

Celtic took the set-piece quickly and worked the ball into the area where it landed at the feet of Denayer. He took a touch with his right to steady himself with his back to goal before rolling the ball beyond Cierzniak with the sole of his boot.It was a moment of sheer class from the Belgian defender and summed up Celtic’s stunning first-half.With the game essentially won in the opening 45 minutes, Celtic began the second-half patiently. United on the other hand were fired up and took possession shortly after the restart.The visitors enjoyed a decent spell of play, pushing the Hoops back into their own half but a shot from distance from Telfer and an effort on target for half-time substitute Ryan Dow was all McNamara’s side could muster.That period of pressure from the Taysiders sparked the Hoops back into life and the Bhoys returned to their slick passing on the edge of United’s area.

The high pressing approach won the ball back in great areas for Ronny Deila’s side and led to a good chance for Armstrong outside the box but the midfielder’s shot was off target.The manager then introduced Stefan Scepovic for John Guidetti, before Kris Commons and Liam Henderson also replaced Mackay-Steven and Armstrong.The fresh legs helped the Celts maintain control and they continued to sweep forward in search of a fourth.Henderson looked lively down the left and looked in the mood to make the most of his game time. The young midfielder did well to get involved in the play but he couldn’t find the final ball to create a chance for the Celts.Nir Bitton, who looked as assured as ever in midfield alongside Scott Brown, then had a go from distance, as did Efe Ambrose, but neither could find the target.It mattered little for the Champions, though, and they saw the game out in possession before the manager toasted the win with yet another set of Ronny Roars for the Celtic faithful.

CELTIC (4-2-3-1) Gordon; Ambrose, Denayer, van Dijk, Izaguirre; Brown, Bitton; Mackay-Steven, Johansen, Armstrong (Commons 70); Guidetti (Scepovic 70). Not used: Zaluska, Griffiths, Fisher, Forrest, Henderson.

DUNDEE UNITED (4-2-3-1) Cierzniak; McGowan, Souttar, Fojut, Dixon; Paton, Rankin, Butcher (Dow 45); Telfer (Muirhead 77), Spittal (Anier 77); Ciftci Not used: Szromnik, Spark, Connolly, Erskine.


CAZ0tLzVIAAJPJE

Scottish Cup quarter-final Celtic Park, Glasgow Wednesday, March 18, 2015

CELTIC…4 (Denayer 17, Griffiths 57, Commons 79, van Dijk 90+1)

DUNDEE UNITED…0

CELTIC cruised into the Scottish Cup last four and kept their treble dreams alive after a dominant 4-0 victory over Dundee United in Paradise.Jason Denayer deservedly headed the Hoops in front, before Leigh Griffiths doubled the advantage 12 minutes into the second half.The Scottish Cup quarter-final tie was effectively over once Kris Commons coolly added a third in the closing stages, but the competitive edge continued until the clock ticked down as first Anthony Stokes and then Ryan McGowan were dismissed.The champions finished with a flourish, though, as Virgil van Dijk rolled home from Denayer’s perfect pass at the death to set up a semi-final meeting with Inverness Caley Thistle. Hampden hero James Forrest returned to the Celtic starting line-up in the sole change from the team that defeated the Terrors in Sunday’s League Cup final.The winger, who bagged the Hoops’ second goal in the 2-0 triumph, replaced the suspended Stefan Johansen in the side, with Commons moving inside to the fill the void left by the Norwegian.United had been reduced to 10 men at the National Stadium and they could have suffered the same fate within 60 seconds as goalkeeper Radoslaw Cierzniak sent Griffiths sprawling outside the box after he had fastened onto a precise pass. The shot-stopper was shown a yellow card, with the resultant free-kick curled wide by Commons via the aid of a deflection.

It was a sign of things of things to come as the champions poured forward and pressed the visitors relentlessly, denying them any platform to build forward momentum.Celtic were finding plenty of joy down the flanks, earning a raft of corners, but it was from a slick move through the middle that Commons had the first effort on goal in the sixth minute, the attacker sending a shot over after a lovely first touch had allowed him to speed towards the box.Griffiths then brought out a comfortable save from Cierzniak after acrobatically connecting to Stokes’ cross as the pressure continued to mount.In the 17th minute, Celtic made the breakthrough. Butcher sent Commons tumbling as he broke forward and when Stokes sent the free-kick into the mix, Denayer rose highest to send a looping header into the net.

Forrest and Griffiths had attempts in quick succession as confident and purposeful Celtic looked to inflict further punishment.Griffiths lashed another shot over from 25 yards after linking up with Commons. And when the Tannadice side did venture forward, they were susceptible to the lightning counter-attacks, with one sweeping move culminating in Forrest’s drive being blocked by John Rankin.Van Dijk headed over from a corner and only a last-gasp challenge thwarted Griffiths from playing in Nir Bitton as Celtic dominance continued unabated.Forrest’s explosive speed was proving a particular problem for Rankin, deployed in a more unfamiliar left-back position.And after the winger had raced past the former Hibernian player, his cross forced a backpedalling Cierzniak to tip the ball on to the bar. Moments later, Griffiths had a header blocked by Jaroslaw Fojut.

Nadir Ciftci’s speculative effort from 25 yards, which had drawn a comfortable save from Craig Gordon, had been United’s only effort of note as half-time approached.Ryan McGowan’s cutback did cause some flutters in the 39th minute but Gordon managed to divert the danger clear, with Efe Ambrose completing the clearance.But it was the Bhoys who finished the half on top, with Bitton almost capitalising on Cierzniak’s slack clearance and Commons coming close with a couple of efforts.That pattern continued after the restart as Forrest reached the byline and found Commons, who was crowded out as he tried to pull the trigger.United then had their best spell of the match, throwing in a number of crosses into the mix, but Ronny Deila’s men held firm and then set about adding to their tally.

And shortly after Stokes has blasted wide from 30 yards, they broke United’s resistance again. Scott Brown’s wonderful pass was met first-time by Griffiths, whose controlled finish gave Cierzniak no chance.Van Dijk and Stokes threatened, while the impressive Forrest continued to torment the visitors with his pace and trickery.And it was no surprise when goal number three arrived as Commons collected a return pass from substitute John Guidetti and lofted the ball beyond Cierzniak.

Tempers frayed in the closing stages as Stokes saw red after an altercation with Paul Paton, before Ryan McGowan also received his marching orders for a reckless lunge on Liam Henderson.Still, it couldn’t put a dampener on a fantastic night for the Hoops, and there was still time for van Dijk to round off the scoring, applying the finish after being set-up by his defensive partner Denayer.

CELTIC (4-2-3-1) Gordon; Ambrose (Fisher 72), Denayer, van Dijk, Izaguirre; Brown, Bitton; Forrest, Commons (Henderson 80) Stokes; Griffiths (Guidetti 58) Not Used: Zaluska, Scepovic, Wakaso, McGrgeor

DUNDEE UNITED (4-4-2) Cierzniak; McGowan, Fojut, Morris, Rankin; Spittal (Connolly 74), Paton, Butcher, Erskine (Anier 70); Dow (Telfer 70) Ciftci Not Used: Szromnik, Souttar, Smith, Spark


IMG_0289

Scottish League Cup

Hampden Park Sunday, March 15, 2015

CELTIC…2 (Commons 27, Forrest 79)

DUNDEE UNITED…0

RONNY DEILA captured his first trophy as Celtic manager after his side beat Dundee United 2-0 at Hampden today (Sunday) to lift the Scottish League Cup.An attacking attitude and disciplined performance from the Hoops was capped off by goals in either half from Kris Commons and James Forrest to give the team the first piece of silverware this season.Forrest had a chance to grab a double when he won a penalty late on but Radoslaw Cierzniak saved to deny the winger.The match was a much calmer affair than last weekend’s 1-1 draw in the Scottish Cup but Dundee United still saw a man sent off when Sean Dillon was dismissed for a high challenge on Emilio Izaguirre.

Celtic made just one change to the team following last weekend’s draw with United and reintroduced Kris Commons in place of James Forrest on the right wing.The Bhoys started the match the brighter of the two sides and looked comfortable in possession, stroking the ball about patiently in search of an early opening.Virgil van Dijk almost put the Bhoys in the lead inside the first two minutes when he rose well to meet a corner from Anthony Stokes from the left but the United defence cleared the ball on the line.Leigh Griffiths’ dogged determination then carved out another chance from seemingly nothing when he intercepted a slack back-pass from Callum Morris to Radoslaw Cierzniak in the United goal and rounded the keeper, but his shot hit the side netting from a tight angle.

Jackie McNamara’s side threatened at the other end early on too after they won a free-kick on the edge of the Celtic box but the Hoops dealt with the set-piece from Paul Dixon and cleared the danger.Commons seemed to be relishing his return to the side and as the match wore on he began to pop up in pockets of space around the United box. The attacker had couple of shots from distance which were off target but were an indication of his intent.The Celtic star then came good on those threats and put the Hoops into the lead in emphatic style just before the half hour mark.Stokes picked up the ball in space on the left and crossed into the box but the United defence played the ball straight back out to the Irishman.

The attacker readjusted his sights and played a lower cross into the middle to find Commons, who hit an effort at goal, which went through the legs of Jaroslaw Fojut only to be fantastically saved by Cierzniak in goal.The keeper’s efforts were in vain, however, as the ball landed back at the feet of Commons, who made no mistake at the second attempt and hammered the ball beyond the outstretched goalie.The Terrors were a man down at the time as their captain Sean Dillon received treatment off the park but he soon returned to the action.Celtic went on the hunt after the restart and had United on the ropes.

Callum Morris had to think fast to thwart Griffiths in the box before he pulled the trigger, and then Ryan McGowan was booked for a late tackle from the side on Scott Brown. Commons then forced another great fingertip save from Cierzniak with a shot from the right before Ryan Down threatened with a header on the end of a long throw from McGowan at the other end as the match sparked into life again.Cierzniak was called into action again by Commons just before half time when the attacker controlled a ball cleared from a Stokes’ corner but his shot on the half volley was straight at the keeper.

The United players came out for the second half and drove forward from the restart. McNamara’s side won a corner straight away but Celtic cleared.Stokes then went close to setting up Griffiths at the other end but the winger’s cross was just inches ahead of the Celtic striker. United then sat back in their own half to soak up the Hoops pressure but their game-plan took a blow on 55 minutes when their captain, Dillon, was shown a straight red card.The defender was caught out of position up the pitch and slid in late on Emilio Izaguirre in midfield in an attempt to get a foot on a loose ball.

but his tackle was high and hard and caught the Honduran square on the ankle, leaving the left-back writhing in agony and the referee with no other option.Paul Paton then left Efe Ambrose on the deck as the nature of the game threatened to boil over but Celtic remained composed.With United a man down, Celtic began to turn the screw and focused much of their play down the left wing. Johansen almost got on the end of a trio of crosses from the left flank but Fojut did well to clear on each occasion in the absence of his captain. United were on the rack, however, and it seemed like only a matter of time before Celtic would score again.Ronny Deila brought James Forrest and John Guidetti into the action in place of Commons and Griffiths as he sought the second goal to kill the game.

That strike almost came from a Celtic corner when Jason Denayer rose to meet the ball in but his header went over Cierzniak’s bar.The deciding goal wasn’t far away, though, and it was substitute Forrest who grabbed it for the Bhoys.The Hoops drove forward down the right through the Scotland winger and he played a ball out to the left to find Johansen in the box. He was forced wide but managed to shift the ball back in to Guidetti who, with his back to goal, spotted Forrest in space 20 yards out. The Swede laid the ball off for the attacker who showed no hesitation before curling a ball into the net beyond Cierzniak.

The strike signalled the end of the brief United revival which had preceded it and the winger had a chance to get on the score-sheet again moments later when Celtic won a penalty after he was dragged down in the box by Paul Dixon.The playmaker stepped up to take the spot-kick but Cierzniak stuck out a leg to thwart the winger.The day truly belonged to Celtic, however, and their overall play, discipline and attitude got them the win they deserved and Ronny Deila’s first trophy as Hoops manager.

CELTIC (4-2-3-1): Gordon; Ambrose, Denayer, van Dijk, Izaguirre; Brown, Bitton (Henderson 83); Commons (Forrest 69), Johansen, Stokes; Griffiths (Guidetti 69). Not used: Zaluska, Scepovic, Fisher, McGregor.

DUNDEE UNITED (4-3-3): Cierzniak, McGowan, Dillon, Fojut, Dixon; Paton (Erskine 70), Butcher, Rankin; Dow, Morris, Bilate (Anier 59). Not used: Szromnik, Telfer, Connolly, Spittal.


maxresdefault

Scottish Cup quarter-final

Tannadice, Dundee Sunday, March 8, 2015

DUNDEE UNITED…1 (Ciftci pen. 45)

CELTIC…1 (Griffiths 71)

LEIGH Griffiths’ second-half header sealed a draw for Celtic against Dundee United after a breathless and, at times, controversial Scottish Cup quarter-final clash at Tannadice, sending the match to a replay. Referee Craig Thomson dished out three red cards and awarded two penalties in a pulsating and fiery contest.Virgil van Dijk and Paul Paton were the first to receive their marching orders in the opening 10 minutes after a melee near the halfway line.United went ahead on the stroke of half-time as Nadir Ciftci scored from the spot after Aidan Connolly had went down easily in the box under Anthony Stokes’ challenge.The Hoops spurned the chance to level the match three minutes into the second half as Paul Dixon was sent off for blocking Griffith’s goalbound shot with his hand. However, the striker’s penalty was saved by Radoslaw Cierzniak.

But the Hoops hit-man achieved redemption with 19 minutes left on the clock, heading home Stefan Johansen’s cross.Despite a late assault on the United goal, a winner proved elusive for the Scottish champions, who will now have to tackle the Terrors in a replay at Paradise on March 18 for a semi-final spot againts either Inverness Caley Thistle or Raith Rovers.Emilio Izaguirre returned to the side as Ronny Deila made three changes to the team who were defeated by the Saints on Wednesday night.The Honduran internationalist replaced Adam Matthews in defence, the Welshman dropping out the matchday squad after picking up an injury against the Perth side.Cup-tied due Gary Mackay-Steven and Stuart Armstrong were unavailable to face their former employers, with Nir Bitton and James Forrest filling their positions.

Celtic made a bright start to the game, moving the ball around crisply and looking to utilise Griffiths’ pace with quick balls over the top, without ever threatening the United goal.After a cagey opening, the match exploded into life in the eighth minute as both sides were reduced to 10 men.After Ciftci and Scott Brown had clashed, with the United player appearing to kick out at the Celtic skipper, Calum Butcher went in recklessly on van Dijk.As the two players tangled on the ground, the Dutchman didn’t appear to have done much wrong, but he and Paton – in what could only be a case of mistaken identity – were given their marching orders by referee Craig Thomson.It took some time for each team to regain any momentum as they readjusted to their new set of circumstances.

The Hoops did threaten in flashes, particularly when Izaguirre and Stokes combined down the left, but the first meaningful effort fell the way of the hosts midway through the half.As Connolly prepared the pull the trigger inside the box, Brown made a magnificent last-ditch tackle on the forward, and when the ball broke to the edge of the box, the home side were awarded a free-kick. Ciftci took the set-piece and sent it inches wide of the post.Although the Hoops got into several promising positions, it took until three minutes before the break for them to test Cierzniak as Johansen drew a save from the goalkeeper with a shot from distance. Both teams then hit the woodwork in space of 60 seconds. First, the Bhoys then had a narrow escape as Butcher’s shot deflected off Ryan Dow and smacked the post. Moments later, Johansen held off his marker and played in Stokes but the Irishman could only find the upright.

With only seconds remaining until the interval, Jackie McNamara’s side took the lead as the controversy continued at Tannadice.Stokes made a challenge on Connolly in the box, and despite the Irishman making no contact, the United youngster hit the deck and the referee pointed to the spot. Ciftci, fortunate to still be on the pitch, converted the penalty despite Gordon’s best efforts.Perhaps fuelled by a sense of injustice, Celtic burst from the blocks after the restart and immediately put the Terrors on the back foot.And within three minutes, they were presented with a golden chance to level the match. Stokes drove towards the byline and his cutback was hammered goalwards by Griffiths, only to be halted by Dixon’s outstretched hand.

Referee Thomson was left with no option other than to send the defender off and award another spot-kick. However, Griffiths was unsuccessful, his powerful shot brilliantly saved by Cierzniak to his left.Aided by their man advantage, Celtic continued to mount the pressure – Griffiths and Stokes went close, before the Hoops forced a succession of corners.It was one-way traffic but United did briefly threaten on the break, with Butcher’s final effort easily scooped up by Gordon.But then Cierzniak had be at his best to deny substitute John Guidetti, the keeper saving the striker’s venomous drive with his legs.Celtic’s frustration continued as Guidetti’s free-kick was charged down by the wall, before they finally broke United’s resistance 19 minutes from full-time.

Johansen showed wonderful vision to pick out Griffiths in the box and he planted a header beyond Cierzniak into the far corner.Having levelled the tie, Ronnny Deila’s men drove forward in search of a winner. Bitton saw a dipping drive whistle past the post and Guidetti could only fire over following Forrest’s cutback.Guidetti came within a whisker of grabbing a later winner as Bitton found him in the box but some brave goalkeeping from the onrushing Cierzniak denied the striker as the game ended in stalemate, keeping the Hoops’ treble dreams alive.

CELTIC (4-2-3-1) Gordon; Ambrose, Denayer, van Dijk, Izaguirre; Brown, Bitton (Fisher 93), Forrest, Johansen, Stokes (Guidetti 63); Griffiths (Scepovic 87) Not Used: Zaluska, Wakaso, McGregor, Henderson

DUNDEE UNITED (4-3-3) Cierzniak, McGowan, Dillon, Fojut, Dixon; Butcher, Paton, Rankin; Connolly (Souttar 50), Ciftci, Dow (Erskine 63) Not Used: Szromnik, Telfer, Spittal, Bilate, Anier


78996-celtic-v-st-johnstone-team-news-and-preview

SPFL Premiership

Celtic Park, Glasgow Wednesday, March 4, 2015

CELTIC…0 ST JOHNSTONE…1 (Swanson 54)

CELTIC fell to their first defeat in 11 domestic games tonight (Wednesday) after St Johnstone left Paradise with a shock 1-0 win.The Hoops dominated the first-half and created a string of good goal-scoring chances but the Saints held firm thanks to some brave defending and a collection of fine saves from Alan Mannus in goal before a Danny Swanson wonder strike 10 minutes into the second half gave the visitors an unlikely win on the road. Celtic battled back as the clock counted down and had a header from Efe Ambrose cleared off the line but couldn’t find a way past Tommy Wright’s side who saw out the match to head home to Perth with a surprise victory.

Ronny Deila made two changes to his side following the weekend win over Aberdeen and gave Anthony Stokes his first start since the League Cup semi-final at Hampden ahead of Kris Commons, while Nir Bitton dropped to the bench with Stuart Armstrong coming in. Celtic started on the front foot and pushed the visitors back to create a string of early chances.Virgil van Dijk sprang the first attack with a long ball over the Saints backline to find Armstrong in space on the right but his first-time shot was blocked. Stokes then curled the rebound towards goal from the left of the area but it went inches wide.

Steven MacLean had a shot at goal for St Johnstone at the other end but his half-volley went well wide.Celtic kept up the pressure with Scott Brown dictating play in midfield and Gary Mackay-Steven always making himself available in attack.The winger was the main threat for the Hoops going forward early on and almost gave his side the lead, but Mannus did well in goal to thwart the attacker’s curling effort from the right before getting back up palm away the rebound from Stokes.Griffiths looked to exploit the space when it opened up for him 25 yards out but his left-footed shot went narrowly wide.

A poor clearance from Mannus then fell to Armstrong who shot from distance but the keeper saved again.St Johnstone then won the first corner of the match but Celtic defended well and broke up the pitch through Griffiths. He was cynically hacked down by Danny Swanson who received a yellow card for the offence.Another good spell of Celtic pressure ended with a shot from Efe Ambrose inside the box but it sailed over Mannus’ cross bar.

Wotherspoon proved to be the main protagonist for his side in the opening 45 minutes and he got a shot off from the edge of the Celtic box after Saints stole the ball near the 18-yard line, but his effort was once again straight at Craig Gordon.Stokes then won an aerial challenge in midfield which set up Armstrong from distance but Mannus saved the shot again to give Celtic a corner.Ambrose got a head on the set-piece but his effort was cleared in the six-yard box before shots from van Dijk and Mackay-Steven were blocked by the Saints defence amid penalty shouts.

An outstanding piece of skill from Brown drove the Hoops forward again after he beat three St Johnstone players in midfield before winning a Celtic free-kick, but the Hoops couldn’t make anything of the set-piece and the sides went in level at half-time.Celtic took off Adam Matthews for the restart and replaced him with Mubarak Wakaso at left-back. The Ghanaian had a positive start and his first touch won a free-kick in a good area in the St Johnstone half which led to a chance for Jason Denayer before he played a good cross in for Mackay-Steven, but St Johnstone defended well.

The Saints enjoyed the majority of possession in the opening stages of the second half despite Celtic’s good start and took the lead just under 10 minutes in.The visitors won a corner on the left which Celtic cleared but the ball fell to Swanson 20 yards out and the midfielder showed no hesitancy to strike the ball first-time and send it fizzing past Gordon and into the back of the net.That sparked the Bhoys into life and Stokes tried to bring them level with a shot from just outside the box, but Mannus got down quickly to save again. St Johnstone retained control, however, and passed the ball well in Celtic’s half, especially on the wings.

James Forrest and Nir Bitton were introduced in place of Mackay-Steven and Stokes and the Celts continued to push for a goal to bring them back into the match, but St Johnstone continued to defend well.Forrest, Bitton and Armstrong all tried efforts from distance but Mannus looked like a man who would not be beaten as the match approached its conclusion.Johansen had a good shot blocked in the box as the clock ticked down and Celtic won another corner from the play but they couldn’t make the chance count.The Hoops had one last go but a failed long ball into the Saints box drifted harmlessly wide and saw the visitors take a surprise three points back up to Perth.

CELTIC (4-2-3-1): Gordon; Matthews (Wakaso 45), Denayer, van Dijk, Ambrose; Brown, Armstrong; Mackay-Steven (Forrest 58), Johansen, Stokes (Bitton 58); Griffiths. Not used: Zaluska, Scepovic, Fisher, Henderson.

ST JOHNSTONE (4-4-2) Mannnus; Mackay, Easton, Anderson, Scobbie; Millar, Wotherspooon, Davidson, O’Halloran (Miller 79); Swanson (Croft 70), MacLean. Not used: Banks, Graham, McFadden, Brown, Kane.


IMG_0158

Scottish Premiership

Celtic Park, Glasgow Sunday, March 1, 2015

CELTIC…4 (Denayer 37, Griffiths 63, Mackay-Steven 69, Johansen 80)

ABERDEEN…0

A SENSATIONAL second-half showing saw Celtic run riot against Aberdeen to claim their 10th successive domestic success and cement their position at the league summit.Jason Denayer headed the Hoops ahead in scrappy first-half but Ronny Deila’s men clicked into top gear after the break, brushing aside the Dons with some blistering, attacking football.Leigh Griffiths doubled the advantage from the penalty spot just after the hour-mark after Stefan Johansen had been fouled by Mark Reynolds, before Gary Mackay-Steven bagged his first goal in Paradise.As Aberdeen’s resistance crumbled, Stefan Johansen swept in number four from Adam Matthews’ cutback as the champions delivered an emphatic statement in the title race, storming six points clear of Derek McInnes’ men, with a game in hand.

Griffiths had recovered from injury that saw him miss the Inter Milan match on Thursday night to the lead the line for the Bhoys, with John Guidetti dropping to the bench.The inclusion of the in-form striker was one of three changes made by Ronny Deila from the team who took to the field in the San Siro.Kris Commons and Efe Ambrose also came into the starting XI at the expense of Stuart Armstrong and Emilio Izaguirre, who didn’t make the matchday squad.Griffiths didn’t take long to threaten, controlling a long ball and firing wide from the edge of the box. But it was the visitors who looked the sharper and carved out the best chances in the opening exchanges.Craig Gordon, outstanding once again against Inter three days earlier, had to be at his best to make a reflex save from Niall McGinn’s curling effort, the goalkeeper tipping it on to the bar and over.

From the resultant corner, the loose ball dropped for Andrew Considine but he could only head overFormer Celt McGinn and Johnny Hayes were seeing plenty of the ball on either flank for the visitors, sending in a series of crosses.However, some disciplined defending denied the Dons any clear opportunities, with a weak Adam Rooney header their only effort of note from these promising positions.Gordon made a comfortable save from Ryan Jack’s shot but the game was now becoming scrappier as both teams cancelled one another out.However, a defensive mistake from Derek McInnes’ side helped the Hoops make the vital breakthrough. Goalkeeper Scott Brown’s poor clearance landed at the feet of Stefan Johansen.He drove forward and released Griffiths, whose shot forced the shot-stopper to turn the ball wide. When the corner was swung in from the left, Denayer rose highest to bullet a header into the net.

Kenny McLean tested Gordon with a free-kick as half-time approached but that opening goal had galvanised Celtic and they ruthlessly wrestled control of the match after the interval. Although defender Donervon Daniels flicked McGinn’s cross wide three minutes into the second half, from then on, it was all about the champions.Only a last-ditch challenge from Shay Logan denied Johansen after Armstrong had launched a breakaway, before Johansen failed to pick out an unmarked Griffiths in the box after racing clear. Griffiths saw a shot saved by Brown following Bitton’s pass and the former Hibs hit-man then had the ball in the net but was denied by a late offside flag as gaps began to open up in the Dons rearguard.Jack blasted over in the box as the Pittodrie side tried to stem the side but the Hoops quickly raced up the field to bag the all-important second goal.

Johansen was felled in the box by Reynolds and the referee pointed the spot. Griffiths stepped up and calmly slotted the penalty away.Johansen and Guidetti then came close, before Mackay-Steven added number three, driving through the middle and firing in via the post.Celtic in were in full flow now and the home crowd were lapping it up. Substitute John Guidetti found the side-netting with a rasping drive as the chances kept coming.With 10 minutes remaining on the clock, they inflicted more misery on the beleaguered away side as Johansen swept home Matthews’ centre.There could have been heavier punishment for Aberdeen as the Bhoys cut through the opposition defence at will in the closing stages and the visitors were relieved to the hear the final whistle as Celtic Park celebrated a thumping win.

CELTIC (4-2-3-1) Gordon; Matthews, Denayer, van Dijk, Ambrose; Brown, Bitton; Commons (Armstrong 11, Stokes 74) Johansen, Mackay-Steven; Griffiths (Guidetti 63) Not Used: Zaluska, Wakaso, Forrest, Henderson

ABERDEEN (4-2-3-1) Brown; Logan, Daniels, Reynolds, Considine; Flood, Jack, McLean; McGinn (Goodwillie 70), Rooney (Taylor 84) Hayes (Pawlett 33) Not Used: Langfield, Smith, Robson,Shaughnessy


 video-undefined-260BAEEE00000578-943_638x362


UEFA Europa League

Stadio Giuseppe Meazza Thursday,

February 26, 2015

INTER MILAN…1 (Guarin 87)

CELTIC…0

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.


 images (1)


SPFL Premiership

Celtic Park Glasgow Sunday,

February 22, 2015

CELTIC…4 (Commons 54, Johansen 64, Guidetti 78, Commons 82)

HAMILTON…0

A CLINICAL second-half performance from Celtic saw the Bhoys put four goals beyond Hamilton at Paradise today (Sunday) to go three points clear at the top of the SPFL Premiership.A double from Kris Commons was added to by strikes from Stefan Johansen and John Guidetti as Ronny Deila’s side recorded their ninth consecutive domestic win in a row.

Celtic made four changes for the match following Thursday’s epic encounter with Inter Milan but there was still a strong spine to the team with major threats up front.Efe Ambrose replaced Adam Matthews at right-back and Commons made his return from injury to replace Gary Mackay-Steven in the wide right berth.

James Forrest also made a welcome return to the starting XI in favour of Stuart Armstrong, as did Thursday’s last action goal hero, Guidetti, who replaced Leigh Griffiths up front.Celtic started brightly and passed the ball well in the wide areas but Hamilton stayed compact and did well to get men in the box to block early crosses from Ambrose and Emilio Izaguirre.

The visitors’ formation mirrored the Hoops, with Hasselbaink deployed as a lone striker and his early darting runs on the counter-attack put the Bhoys backline under pressure, but Hamilton couldn’t find the diminutive striker with a pass.Celtic had several chances to take the lead inside the first 15 minutes but good saves from Michael McGovern denied Nir Bitton and Forrest as Ronny Deila’s side pushed for the opener.

Celtic also won a string of corners but couldn’t make them count before a bursting run from midfield from Johansen saw the midfielder get on the end of another cross from Ambrose but the Norwegian’s shot deflected off Guidetti and out for a goal-kick.Hamilton were pinned back as the Hoops forced the issue but their clever one-twos on the edge of the 18-yard line couldn’t unlock the tight Accies defence.

Commons took the brunt of a poor challenge from Ziggy Gordon as he tried to cut in to midfield from the right, for which the Hamilton defender was booked. The Celtic attacker recovered from the foul, however, and fired in a shot from distance minutes later but the effort was off target.The champions’ passing was crisp and direct in Hamilton territory but the sheer number of Accies defenders managed to break up almost any attack the Bhoys could mount.

Forrest and Commons came more into the game as the half wore on, popping up in spaces on either flank but Hamilton pressed the creative players well and stopped them from getting near the area.The first half ended with Celtic well on top but the story of the first 45 minutes was encapsulated perfectly when Martin Canning and Gordon threw their bodies in front of a trio of shots from the Bhoys to keep the scores even going into the break.

The pattern of the first half resumed following the restart but Celtic were much quicker in their passing and pushed Hamilton back immediately.The visitors stood strong and defended a Johansen shot from distance but the breakthrough eventually came on 54 minutes when Virgil van Dijk picked up the ball in defence and powered past two Hamilton players in midfield.

The defender bore down on the box before setting up Commons with a perfectly-weighted pass in the box where the attacker took a touch and buried a volley beyond McGovern to put the Hoops in front.Johansen was then in on goal for Celtic again but he could only get a flicked shot on the end of a ball over the top.It wasn’t long until the Norwegian got his fourth domestic goal in a row, though, and the strike came courtesy of powerful and direct play from van Dijk again.

The Dutchman picked up the ball in midfield and confidently strode forward towards the Hamilton goal before he dropped a shoulder and opened up space to shoot with his right. McGovern got two strong hands to the shot but the ball fell kindly for Johansen, who fired home to put the Bhoys 2-0 up.Ronny Deila then introduced Stuart Armstrong to the play, giving Forrest a rest after a busy afternoon. The midfielder settled into play well and played his part in setting up Celtic’s third not long after his introduction with a defence-splitting pass to Izaguirre on the left.

The Honduran hit the byline before curling in a pinpoint ross for Guidetti, who nodded home from inside six yards to grab the goal his overall play deserved.Celtic were not finished, however, and came forward again in search of a fourth goal. They got their reward on 80 minutes when Matthews broke forward on the right before crossing for Commons who connected with the ball in and forced an effort beyond McGovern.

Liam Henderson then replaced Johansen and the youngster showed his determination by getting straight into the action with a shot from the edge of the area but his effort sailed over.Hamilton won a late corner but van Dijk, who had be imperious all afternoon, rose well to clear the danger and secure a clean sheet for the Bhoys in front of the home crowd.

CELTIC: (4-2-3-1) Gordon; Ambrose, Denayer (Matthews 45), van Dijk, Izaguirre; Brown, Bitton; Commons, Johansen (Henderson 80), Forrest (Armstrong 59); Guidetti. Not used: Zaluska, , Mackay-Steven, Griffiths, Wakaso. HAMILTON: (4-2-3-1) McGovern; Gordon (Longridge 45), Canning (Tagliapietra 82), Devlin, Hendrie; MacKinnon, Gillespie (Lyon 56); Routledge, Crawford, Imrie; Hasselbaink.

Not used: Hill, Scotland, Brophy, Redmond.


CELTSvINTER


UEFA Europa League

Celtic Park, Glasgow Thursday, February 2, 2015

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

INTER MILAN…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


download (1)


McDiarmid Park, Perth

Saturday, February 14, 2015

ST JOHNSTONE…1 (O’Halloran 72)

CELTIC…2 (Griffiths 1, Johansen 52)

CELTIC preserved their perfect start to 2015, seeing off a late St Johnstone fightback to claim a deserved 2-1 victory at McDiarmid Park. Leigh Griffiths slotted into the empty net inside the opening 60 seconds to as the Hoops burst from the blocks with intent.Playing some sparkling stuff, the champions came close to increasing their advantage several times before Stefan Johansen doubled the advantage seven minutes into the second half. Michael O’Halloran reduced the deficit in the closing stages to set up a frenetic finish but Ronny Deila’s side held on, helped by some heroic goalkeeping from Craig Gordon, to seal an eight successive win in all competitions, the perfect way to head into Thursday’s glamour UEFA Europa League meeting with Inter Milan.

Following Wednesday’s impressive 3-0 victory over Partick Thistle, Ronny Deila only made one change to the starting XI, with Griffiths restored the side at the expense of John Guidetti, who was named among the substitutes.And the Hoops hit-man took only 36 seconds to make his presence felt as he sensationally opened the scoring. Nir Bitton was the architect, picking a hole through the home defence with a pinpoint pass to send Griffiths clear and he calmly rolled the ball under the onrushing Alan Mannus. It was the second successive game Celtic had broken the deadlock within the opening minute and they maintained their incredible intensity and tempo to quickly fashion further chances.

Only a desperate block denied Scott Brown after receiving Adam Matthews’ cutback and Griffiths lashed a first-time volley wide as the beleaguered St Johnstone rearguard struggled to cope. They did earn some respite around the 10-minute mark, getting their foot on the ball and winning a free-kick on the right. When the set-piece was knocked down in the box, Michael O’Halloran could only scoop a shot straight at Craig Gordon.An early injury to influential midfielder Murray Davidson didn’t aid their cause, and he was replaced by Chris Kane. The movement and link-up play between Celtic’s attacking quartet of Gary Mackay-Steven, Stefan Johansen, Stuart Armstrong and Leigh Griffiths was causing consternation for the hosts.And when Armstrong’s surging run has resulted in a corner, Virgil van Dijk’s powerful header was close to being converted by Griffiths, with Mannus grateful to grasp the loose ball on the line.

After Kane had headed wide from O’Halloran’s cross at one end, Celtic swiftly responded as Griffiths controlled Mackay-Steven’s pass in the box and unleashed a rasping effort, forcing Mannus to make a sprawling save.Despite the frequency of Celtic’s attacks, Tommy Wright’s men were playing with plenty of spirit and were finding some joy down the flanks. Both Steven MacLean and Kane won headers from corners, though Gordon was untroubled. But Mannus has to be at his best to deny Mackay-Steven shortly after, springing to his right and getting a hand to the winger’s ferocious strike from 20 yards.

With Mackay-Steven in particular continuing to wreak havoc, Celtic regained the ascendancy as the interval drew closer – Brown was unable to generate sufficient power to test Mannus from Johansen’s pass and Griffiths had a shot deflected over. Mackay-Steven then shot across goal, after another penetrative thrust into the area, with Matthews unable to control the rebound.And on the stroke of half-time, Jason Denayer glanced a header over – but the Bhoys only took seven minutes after the restart to increase their tally with a well-worked goal.Armstrong’s accurate pass was flicked on by Griffiths into Johansen’s path and the Norwegian kept his composure under pressure to slam the ball home.

Brown had been typically tenacious, working in tandem alongside the assured Nir Bitton, to control possession and drive the team on.And a lovely interchange between the skipper and Emilio Izaguirre down the left forced a foul and gave van Dijk the chance to try his luck from the set-piece. His low drive deflected wide.Brown was next to threaten, collecting a pass from the left in his stride and hitting the target but he was unable to find a way past Mannus, stretching as he shot. Van Dijk’s physical presence had posed problems for the Perth side from dead-ball situations throughout the game and the Dutchman was unfortunate to see a thumping volley deflect wide from a corner.

Celtic were cruising at the stage but the hosts were given renewed hope when they pulled a goal back with just under 20 minutes left on the clock. Tam Scobbie was afforded space to cross from the left, resulting in a melee. When the ball broke loose, O’Halloran forced it home. Mackay-Steven and substitute Liam Henderson replied for the Hoops, and the latter was agonisingly close to killing off the contest in the final five minutes.Anthony Stokes did well to reach the byline and his cutback was met by Henderson but it ricocheted off a defender and spun inches wide.And Celtic had Gordon to thank for them leaving with maximum reward, with an outstanding double save from Brian Graham and Dave Mackay as the clock ticked down.

CELTIC (4-2-3-1) Gordon; Matthews, Denayer, van Dijk, Izaguirre; Brown, Bitton; Mackay-Steven (Efe Ambrose 82), Johansen, Armstrong (Henderson 68); Griffiths (Stokes 62) Not Used: Zaluska, Guidetti, Scepovic, McGregor

ST JOHNSTONE (4-5-1) Mannus, Mackay, Anderson, Scobbie, Easton; Croft (McFadden 65), Davidson (Kane 14), Millar, Lappin O’Halloran; MacLean (Graham 76) Not Used: Banks, Wright, Caddis, G. Miller


xiOb8QI

SPFL Premiership

Firhill, Partick Wednesday, February 11, 2015

PARTICK THISTLE…0

CELTIC…3 (Mackay-Steven 1, Armstrong 30, Johansen 66)

A DEBUT goal apiece for Celtic new Bhoys, Gary Mackay-Steven and Stuart Armstrong, set the Scottish champions up for a convincing 3-0 victory over Partick Thistle at Firhill tonight (Wednesday).The duo both marked their first start under Ronny Deila with a strike each after Mackay-Steven opened the scoring inside the first minute after capitalising on a scramble in the box before Armstrong slotted home into an empty net following good work by John Guidetti.

Stefan Johansen scored with a well-taken shot from distance on the hour mark to kill-off a second half revival from the hosts and send the Hoops three points clear at the top of the SPFL Premiership.New Bhoys Armstrong and Mackay-Steven made their Celtic bow in place of the injured Kris Commons and Anthony Stokes, and the pair slotted in to the attacking front three alongside Stefan Johansen in a supporting role to main striker John Guidetti, who replaced the injured Leigh Griffiths up front.

The Hoops roared forward from kick-off and immediately won a corner from the right and the set-piece led to the opening goal.Johansen’s low ball-in was only partially cleared by the Jags defence before it broke to Mackay-Steven inside the area. The winger took a touch to take it beyond Conrad Balatoni before poking the ball under the onrushing Scott Fox to put the Celts in the lead.

It was an incredible start to the match for the debutant, who scored his first Celtic goal just 38 seconds into his first start.Fellow new Bhoy Armstrong almost mirrored his former Dundee United colleague with a strike of his own moments later but his effort was parried wide by Scott Fox.The game’s lightening start continued for the first 15 minutes as Thistle did their best to counter-act Celtic’s early dominance but it was the Scottish champions who looked more like scoring next as Johansen volleyed a shot at goal before Armstrong saw a curling effort from 18 yards drift wide.

The midfielder then joined his fellow debutant on the score-sheet on the half-hour mark as Celtic went two in front after a great piece of play from Mackay-Steven.Virgil van Dijk played a searching long ball over the Jags defence for the winger to run on to and he showed blistering pace to beat Stephen O’Donnell to the ball before turning cleverly inside the box to set up Guidetti.The striker gathered the pass and was forced wide but he had the intelligence to cut back inside and find Armstrong unmarked, leaving the midfielder with an empty net to curl the ball into with his left foot.

The champions continued to turn the screw as the half went on, using one-touch passing to pull Thistle across the pitch and picking their time to spring the attack.The Jags were completely outplayed for the majority of the opening 45 minutes but began to show signs of encouragement near half time when O’Donnell supplied a powerful curling cross from the right into the Celtic box but Taylor’s header sailed over the bar.Thistle came out the blocks for the restart much quicker than they had in the first half and carved out a chance with a shot from Christie Elliott but the winger’s effort was miles off.

Taylor then forced Gordon into his first real save of the match with a low shot from the edge of the box but it was easily gathered by the Hoops keeper.The Jags played much tighter to Celtic but the Bhoys remained patient and did well to pick the hosts off in their own half. Johansen then got a shot in from distance but he failed to connect properly and his left-footed effort trundled wide.Alan Archibald’s team were then in the ascendency and displayed much more conviction in their passing and tackling but their second-half revival was struck down with one swift blow by the champions when Johansen finally found the back of the net.

The Norwegian picked up the ball in midfield and drove forward, finding space in the centre as a run from Guidetti pulled the Jags defence apart.The midfielder then lifted his head and slammed a low shot from 20 yards beyond Fox and into the back of the net to put the Celts 3-0 up.That sent some dejected Thistle fans for the exit and their frustrations continued as they claimed for a hand ball off Jason Denayer in the box but had nothing given.Guidetti then had a chance to get his name on the score-sheet when Johansen picked the Swede out with an accurate chipped pass into the box but the striker smashed his side-footed shot over.

Ronny Deila then replaced Johansen with Liam Henderson and Adam Matthews with Darnell Fisher.Thistle made a double switch too, replacing Christie Elliott and Lyle Taylor with Kris Doolan and Kallum Higginbotham as they chased a goal.Higginbotham fired a shot off with 10 minutes remaining after cutting inside from the left and went close again with an effort from a training ground set-piece but Gordon was equal to the shots and Celtic remained in controlMackay-Steven took the applause from the Celtic fans as he was subbed for Callum McGregor before full time.Ryan Stevenson found space to fire in one more shot for Thistle but it was comfortably saved by Gordon, securing yet another clean sheet for the Hoops and another win on the road.

CELTIC (4-2-3-1) Gordon; Matthews (Fisher 72), van Dijk, Denayer, Izaguirre; Brown, Bitton; Mackay-Steven (McGregor 82), Johansen (Henderson 70), Armstrong; Guidetti Subs not used: Zaluska, Ambrose, Scepovic, Stokes

. PARTICK THISTLE (4-5-1) Fox; O’Donnell, Booth, Balatoni, Bannigan (Fraser 80), Stevenson, Frans, Elliott (Higginbotham 72), Osman, McDaid, Taylor (Doolan 72). Subs not used: Gallacher, Craigen, Lawless, Richards-Everton.


31882-scottish-cup

Scottish Cup fifth round

Dens Park, Dundee Saturday, February 7, 2015

DUNDEE…0

CELTIC…2 (Griffiths 6, Johansen 47)

CELTIC cruised into the Scottish Cup last eight and kept their treble dreams alive after a dominant 2-0 victory over Dundee at Dens Park.Leigh Griffiths handed the Hoops the perfect start when he glanced home from Mikael Lustioss as the visitors burst out of the blocks.The champions should have added to their tally before the break as they cut open the hosts time and time again.But Stefan Johansen sealed a one-sided win within moments of the restart, converting the rebound after Griffiths’ header had been saved by Scott Bain.

And now Ronny Deila’s men can look forward to Monday’s draw for the quarter-finals as they close in on another domestic prize.James Forrest returned to the starting XI at the expense of Anthony Stokes as Ronny Deila made one change to the team that triumphed at Hampden last week in the League Cup semi-final.And the winger was soon in thick of the action, latching on to a pinpoint pass from Kris Commons inside the opening two minutes that took him inside the box.However