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  • Christie strike seals Celtic Park delight for Brendan Rodgers

    Christie strike seals Celtic Park delight for Brendan Rodgers

    By: Martin Dalziel on 16 Jul, 2016 16:57

  • 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, Caliguiri, Gerhardt; Donkor (Herrmann 63), Dost (Putaro 46), Didavi (Kruse 63)

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