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  • Forrest gets the Invincibles off to a winning start in Austria

    Forrest gets the Invincibles off to a winning start in Austria

    By: Laith Al Naeme in Austria on 28 Jun, 2017 19:37

  • Pre-season Friendly
    Stadion Rohrbach-Berg, Austria
    Wednesday June 28, 2017

    (Forrest 84)


    JAMES Forrest scored the only goal of the game as Celtic started off their pre-season campaign in Austria with a 1-0 win over Blau-Weiss Linz. 

    It was a performance which Brendan Rodgers will take plenty of positives from, in what was the Hoops’ first match since clinching the treble at Hampden last month.

    The manager would also have been encouraged by a lively first-half debut from new Bhoy Jonny Hayes, who signed earlier in the month from Aberdeen on a three-year deal.

    The Bhoys kicked-off their pre-season run of matches by using a complete set of fresh legs in either half, and they fashioned the first opening in the eighth minute as Miller’s wicked delivery allowed Mackay-Steven to test Linz goalkeeper Hankic.

    Linz, who play in the second tier of Austrian football, came into the contest with de Vries having to be alert minutes later. The strike, though, sailed over the bar. 

    The Scottish champions were enjoying plenty of possession and came close to opening the scoring in the 18th minute. McGregor’s effort from the cut-back was tipped on to the bar by the Linz keeper, and Griffiths hit the woodwork on the rebound.  

    Midway through the first-half, however, Anic showed good strength to shrug off the challenge of Miller before his chip was saved by the Hoops keeper. 

    However, the Bhoys kept up the pressure and earned themselves a free-kick in a good area. Following on from his Scotland double, Griffiths was set for another spectacular free-kick but was thwarted away by Hankic. 

    At the other end, de Vries had to pull off a smart stop from Oppong’s close-range header as the half drew to a close. 

    Only Jamie McCart remained on the pitch for the start of the second-half as essentially a completely new team took the field, with Kieran Tierney wearing the captain's armband for the first time. 

    The Bhoys started brightly after the interval and nearly grabbed the opener through Scott Sinclair.  Some neat play from Forrest down the right allowed the winger to skip past two men and find Celtic’s Player of the Year. The headed effort, however, crept over the bar. 

    Celtic, who gave their new green and white Hoops kit a debut, continued to press, piling forward through Forrest  who was fouled at the edge of the box in the 68th minute. Tierney was unlucky from the resulting set-piece, the through ball from Bitton to the left-back producing an excellent save from Hankic.  

    Four minutes later, the Celts broke forward again. Ralston collected possession at the edge of the box but his attempt was off target. Some great midfield play from Anton Rodgers, playing as a trialist, along with Bitton and Henderson, ensured the Bhoys completely dominated possession in Rohrbach.

    And after a swift breakaway, the Champions took the lead. Tierney fed the ball inside to Forrest, whose superb first touch held the ball up for him to volley home. The victory was the perfect start for the Invincibles, with Rapid Vienna next up on Saturday.

    CELTIC FIRST-HALF (4-3-3): de Vries; Lustig, Sviatchenko, McCart, Miller; Armstrong, Brown, McGregor; Hayes, Mackay-Steven, Griffiths

    CELTIC SECOND-HALF (4-2-3-1): Hazard; Ralston, Simunovic, McCart (Boyata 60), Tierney; Bitton, Rodgers; Henderson, Forrest, Sinclair; Aitchison

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