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  • Penalty drama decides Clash of the Champions

    Penalty drama decides Clash of the Champions

    By: Martin Dalziel on 23 Jul, 2016 19:46

  • International Champions Cup
    Celtic Park
    Saturday July 23, 2016

    (O’Connell 59)

    (Mahrez 46)

    [Leicester win 6-5 on penalties]

    CELTIC narrowly lost out in the battle of the champions at Paradise, with a penalty shoot-out deciding the winners after an entertaining 90 minutes. Leicester City's Daniel Amartey scored the decisive spot-kick.

    After an evenly-contested opening 45 minutes, the Hoops went behind early in the second-half courtesy of a piece of individual magic from Riyad Mahrez. Celtic defender Eoghan O’Connell deservedly levelled the match on the hour mark, placing a precise first-time shot beyond Kasper Schmeichel and into the Leicester net.

    Both sides made a host of sweeping changes in the wake of the goals, slowing the momentum of the match, which eventually went to penalties after 90 minutes. And after five successful penalties for each team, James Forrest saw his spot-kick well-saved by Schmeichel before Amartey converted.

    The game may have been lost but the International Champions Cup match was a beneficial match for the Scottish champions, who will now head to Kazakhstan to take on FC Astana in the third qualifying round of the UEFA Champions League.

    Lining up in the same 3-5-2 formation that saw the Celts overcome Lincoln Red Imps 3-0 earlier in the week, Brendan Rodgers made three changes with Saidy Janko, O’Connell and Emilio Izaguirre replacing Erik Sviatchenko, Kieran Tierney, James Forrest out.

    The changes didn’t stop the Hoops from starting well, however, but it was the visitors who carved out the first chances, with Leo Ulloa guilty of not working Craig Gordon with an excellent opportunity in the box early on.

    Moussa Dembele almost found the net for the Bhoys after shooting on the turn in the box to bring out a save from Ron-Robert Zieler on 18 minutes, while the Foxes’ star man, Mahrez also started to influence proceedings as the half wore on, with the English Premier League Player of the Year curling a left-footed shot just wide shortly after Dembele’s effort.

    Claudio Ranieri’s team were enjoying good possession but the Celts were direct and dangerous on the break and had an excellent chance to go in front before half-time after Dembele was fouled just outside the Leicester box. However, Leigh Griffiths’ thumping free-kick was tipped wide, leaving the sides level at the interval.

    Four fresh faces entered the fray for Leicester at the restart, with Celtic making just one switch as Efe Ambrose replaced Mikael Lustig. The Hoops’ new-look defence was then immediately undone just a minute into the second-half when Mahrez displayed his wonderful skill to put his team in front.

    The Algerian gathered a knock-down from Ulloa in the inside left channel and glided towards the apex of the box where his trio of stopovers outfoxed O’Connell and Izaguirre and gave him time to curl an impeccable left-footed shot past Gordon into the far corner.

    It was a moment of individual brilliance from the winger but Celtic’s teamwork soon brought the Scottish champions level after a concerted period of pressure on the Leicester goal.

    The Celts bombarded the opposition box with crosses and after Brown and McGregor were foiled with consecutive shots, the ball fell to O’Connell 20 yards out, with the Irishman arching his run to open the angle and send a side-footed shot into the far corner of the goal past substitute keeper Schmeichel.

    A flurry of subs from each side soon followed with both teams entering the final stages of the match with almost completely changed line-ups from the start of the match. Those sweeping changes lowered the tempo and the game remained level past injury time, with a penalty shoot-out after the final whistle as per International Champions Cup rules.

    Both sides found the net with their first five penalties but James Forrest’s sudden-death kick was well-saved by Schmeichel, setting up Amartey with the opportunity to win the match, which he did by dispatching his spot kick down the middle.

    Celtic will now look to Wednesday’s trip to Kazakhstan to play FC Astana after a testing but positive showing against the English champions.

    CELTIC (3-5-2) Gordon (Fasan 62); Janko, Lustig (Ambrose 46), O’Connell; Roberts (Forrest 62), McGregor (Johansen 62), Brown (Allan 75), Armstrong (Rogic 75), Izaguirre; Griffiths (Christie 75), Dembele (Ciftci 62).
    Not used: Fisher, Henderson, Hazard

    LEICESTER CITY (4-4-2) Zieler (Schmeichel 46); Amartey, Hernandez (Okazaki 62), Morgan (Wasilewski 62), Chilwell; Mahrez (Fuchs 70), Mendy (Simpson 46), Drinkwater, Albrighton (Schlupp 46); Ulloa (Huth 62), Gray (Musa 46)

    Website man of the match: Eoghan O’Connell


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