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  • Celtic end pre-season tour with goal-less stalemate

    Celtic end pre-season tour with goal-less stalemate

    By: Mark Henderson in Slovenia on 09 Jul, 2016 20:05

  • Pre-season friendly
    Stadion Ljudski Vrt, Maribor
    Saturday, July 9, 2016

    NK MARIBOR...0

    CELTIC...0

    DESPITE controlling most of the match, Celtic had to settle for a goal-less draw against NK Maribor in their final game of the pre-season tour of Slovenia.

    Stefan Johansen and Tom Rogic came closest to breaking the deadlock for the Hoops in the Stadion Ljudski Vrt as Brendan Rodgers used the exercise to give most of his squad further time on the pitch ahead of the start of the UEFA Champions League campaign on Tuesday against Lincoln Red Imps.

    The manager made just the one change to the team that started in the 2-1 victory over Olimpija Ljubljana three days earlier, with Ryan Christie replacing Liam Henderson. The 21-year-old lined alongside Leigh Griffiths and Moussa Dembele in a front-three.

    Despite the match kicking off at 7pm (local time), conditions were still sweltering as the Bhoys took the field and it took some time for them to find their tempo.

    In the seventh minute an incisive move down the left saw the Scottish champions carve out their first sight of goal. Kieran Tierney sent Christie scampering clear and goalkeeper Jasmin Handanovic could only parry his powerful cross to Johansen but the Norwegian failed to make a proper connection and dragged his effort wide.

    Although the Hoops gradually took control of proceedings, dominating possession, they struggled to plot further routes through the home rearguard, with Maribor content to mass bodies behind the ball and hit on the break.

    As play became bogged down in midfield and punctuated by fouls, Nir Bitton and Scott Brown saw yellow for the Bhoys.

    The home side had not posed much of an attacking threat, registering their first shots on goal around the half-hour mark and both Gregor Bajde and Dino Hotic were off target and never troubled Craig Gordon.

    Celtic’s rhythm was also disrupted when Johansen was forced from the fray with a knock. Callum McGregor took his spot in midfield.

    After a largely uneventful first-half, the Hoops looked keen to take the initiative after the restart, with Christie embarking on a weaving run into the box before McGregor tested Handanovic from distance.

    Dembele also lashed a shot across goal after holding off his marker as Celtic began to make inroads into the hosts, who had made 10 changes at the interval. Sintayehu Sallalich was one of those to enter the fray and the winger injected some vigour into the Maribor offence. His cross-shot forced Gordon into his first save and then he lashed a drive beyond the post.

    Back came Celtic, though, and Dembele saw a shot saved by Handanovic after Janko had raced to the byline, with Maribor shot-stopper doing enough to prevent Christie from reaching the rebound.

    Just past the hour-mark, Brendan Rodgers, recognising the need to give his full squad match practice, sent on nine players from the bench, including Rogic who didn’t take long to try his luck, blasting wide from the edge of the area. Patrick Roberts also lashed a shot past the post from long-range as the Hoops’ continued to search for a goal.

    But the visitors were almost caught out in the 74th minute when Dare Vrsic curled wide after being supplied by Sallalich.

    Celtic finished strongly, however, and Rogic forced a late save from Handanovic after a rampaging run into the box, with all attention now turning to the start of competitive action next week.

    CELTIC (4-3-3) Gordon; Janko (Lustig 63), Ambrose (O’Connell 63), Sviatchenko (Ajer 63), Tierney (Izaguirre 63); Johansen (McGregor 29), Bitton (Armstrong 63), Brown (Rogic 63); Griffiths (Roberts 63) Dembele (Ciftci 63), Christie (Forrest 63)
    Not Used: Bailly, Fasan, Lindsay, Allan, Fisher, McCart, Henderson, Ralston

    NK MARIBOR (4-2-3-1) Handanovic; Hodzic (Pusaver 46), Denis (Mertelj 46), Suler (Uskokovic 46), Janza (Viler 46); Hotic (Bohar 46), Vrhovec (Kabha 46), Pihler (Ogrinec 46), Bajde (Sallalich 46); Tavares (Novakovic 46), Omoregie (Vrsic 46)
    Not Used: Obradovic, Cotman, Rahmanovic

    Website Man of the Match: Ryan Christie

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