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  • Celts lose to clinical Lyon in pre-season friendly

    Celts lose to clinical Lyon in pre-season friendly

    By: Mark Henderson on 15 Jul, 2017 16:58

  • Friendly match
    Celtic Park, Glasgow
    Saturday, July 15, 2017

    CELTIC...0

    OLYMPIQUE LYONNAIS...4
    (Cornet 46, Maolida 61, Fekir 78, Gouiri 87)

    DESPITE some positive passages of play, a make-shift Celtic side were beaten 4-0 by Olympique Lyonnais in a friendly today in Paradise.

    The Hoops had the better of the first half and came close to breaking the deadlock when new Bhoy Kundai Benyu had a goal-bound shot blocked on the line. But the French outfit upped the tempo after the restart, scoring four times through Maxwel Cornet, Myziane Maolida Nabil Fekir and Amine Gouiri to seal the win.

    By this point, the Scottish champions had sent on a host of Celtic Youth Academy graduates, some who were making their first top-team appearance at Celtic Park, and this will prove an invaluable experience for Hoops youngsters.

    And Brendan Rodgers will also be encouraged by the displays of new Bhoys – Jonny Hayes, Olivier Ntcham and Kundai Benyu – who all impressed during their time on the pitch.   

    Ntcham started just days after completing his move to the Scottish treble-winners from Manchester City. Fellow recent recruit Benyu also made his senior bow for the Bhoys, while Hayes made his Celtic Park debut in the Hoops, having played the last half-hour of Friday night’s UEFA Champions League qualifier against Linfield in Belfast.

    As expected, there were wholesale changes from the side that put the Windsor Park outfit to the sword less than 24 hours earlier, but several key first-team players featured for the Celts, including French Under-21 internationalist Moussa Dembele, who led line against his compatriots. Teenager Mark Hill was a notable inclusion at right-back.

    And after the Ligue 1 side had enjoyed some early possession, the Hoops soon established a foothold in the contest, constructing some purposeful passages of play, with Benyu, in particular, to the fore.  

    Following a foul on the 19-year-old, the hosts came close to opening the scoring in the sixth minute. Nir Bitton took the resultant free-kick from 25 yards out and sent a dipping shot into the side-netting, much to the relief of goalkeeper Anthony Lopes who was struggling to scramble across.   

    Strong hold-up play from Dembele then almost gave Hayes a sight of goal but the winger was crowded out before he could pull the trigger, before the visitors registered their first shot of the game when Romain Del Castillo had a curling effort pushed away by Dorus de Vries.

    Celtic still looked the more threatening when they ventured forward and only some last-ditch defending prevented them from breaking the deadlock. Eboue Kouassi’s precise pass picked out Callum McGregor’s run into the box.

    The midfielder did well to spin away from his marker and cut the ball back for Dembele. Although the striker failed to make a proper connection, Benyu arrived to smash the loose ball goalwards, only for it to cannon off the head of Lyon captain Jeremy Morel on the line.

    All the new boys were looking at home in their new surroundings and Ntcham had the chance to try his luck after Demebele had teed him up, but Lopes was equal to the midfielder’s low effort .

    It was from the direct route that the Bhoys next carved open the visitors. De Vries’ first-time clearance picked out the scampering Izaguirre, who beat the offside trap. But the Honduran was unable to find Dembele and Hayes in the middle.

    As half-time approached, the Celts did have the ball in the net, when Ntcham’s drive from distance could only be parried by Lopes, with McGregor burying the rebound, but a late offside flag cut short the celebrations.

    Brendan Rodgers made just one change at the interval, replacing Dorus de Vries with young goalkeeper Conor Hazard. In contrast, Bruno Genesio’s side made six substitutions at the break, sending on some of their star players, including big-money buy from Chelsea, Bertrand Traore.

    And the attacker made a swift incursion into the Celtic box when he intercepted Eboue’s pass, but Kristoffer Ajer did well to block his shot.

    As Lyon grew in ascendency, French internationalist Nabil Fekir also curled a free-kick over, before they took the lead. Traore again caused the danger, driving into the box from the left and, although Hazard made a fine save to deny him, Maxwell Corent was on hand to bury the rebound.

    The French side quickly doubled their tally after a sublime solo goal from Maolida, the forward skipping past several challenges in the box before firing home from an acute angle.

    Celtic attempted a response when good work from Benyu saw him evade the attentions of Emanuel Mammana, but his pass for the onrushing Henderson was cleared by a back-tracking Lyon defender.

    But as the Hoops gave youngsters like Sam Wardrop, Kerr McInroy, Calvin Miller, Jack Aitchison and Regan Hendry a run-out, Lyon ruthlessly added late goals from Fekir and Gouiri to leave with the spoils.

    CELTIC (4-3-3) De Vries (Hazard 46); Hill (Hendry 79), Bitton, Ajer (McCart 62), Izaguirre; McGregor, Kouassi (Wardrop 62), Ntcham (Henderson 62); Hayes (Miller 73), Dembele (Aitchison 73), Benyu (McInroy 73)

    OLYMPIQUE LYONNAIS (4-4-2) Lopes; Jallet (Tete 46), Nkoulou (Mammana 46) Morel (Diakhaby 62), Mendy (Marcal 62); De Castillo (Traore 46), Ferri (Tousart 62), Grenier (Sergi Darder 46), Depay (Corent 46); Maolida (Gouiri 62), Aouar (Fekir 46)

    Not Used: Gorgelin

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