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  • Sinclair at the double as dominant Celts cruise past Linfield

    Sinclair at the double as dominant Celts cruise past Linfield

    By: Mark Henderson on 19 Jul, 2017 21:41

  • UEFA Champions League second qualifying round, second-leg
    Celtic Park, Glasgow
    Wednesday, July 19, 2017

    CELTIC...4
    (Sinclair 4, 54 Rogic 47, Armstrong 90+2)

    LINFIELD...0

    Celtic win 6-0 on aggregate

    SCOTT Sinclair bagged a brace as Celtic cruised into the UEFA Champions League third qualifying round with a 6-0 aggregate win over Linfield.

    The winger’s goals book-ended Tom Rogic’s long-range strike, before substitute Stuart Armstrong lashed home at the death, as the Hoops recorded an emphatic 4-0 victory in Paradise on the back of a 2-0 success last week in Belfast.

    Just like the first leg in Windsor Park, it was a dominant display from the Scottish treble-winners, who laid siege to the Linfield goal from the first whistle. Now Brendan Rodgers' side can look forward to facing Norwegian champions Rosenborg in the next round of the competition after they saw off Dundalk in extra-time.

    Olivier Ntcham made his competitive Celtic debut seven days after joining the club from Manchester City, having featured in last Saturday’s friendly against Olympique Lyonnais. His inclusion was one of three changes to the team who won 2-0 last week in the first-leg in Belfast. Callum McGregor and Moussa Dembele also came into the side, with Erik Sviatchenko, Stuart Armstrong and Leigh Griffiths dropping out.

    And it didn’t take long for the new Bhoy to make a telling contribution as the Hoops made an early breakthrough. Taking aim from around 20 yards, Ntcham’s low shot was blocked by Mark Stafford’s boot but Sinclair fastened on to the loose ball and beat Roy Carroll from an acute angle.  

    It had been all Celtic from kick-off, with Ntcham firing wide and McGregor looping a header over from Lustig’s lofted pass as the onslaught continued on Carroll's goal.

    Dembele was next to threaten from Kieran Tierney’s inviting cross but the striker was unable to steer his volley on target. And the Frenchman came even close from Sinclair’s corner when his thumping header cannoned off the head of a Linfield defender.

    Sinclair looked like a man on a mission, driving at the visitors’ defence at every opportunity and giving right-back Chris Casement a torrid time. And from another one of the Englishman’s tricky runs, Dembele was off target from distance.

    There was little respite for David Healy’s men as, whenever they managed to get their foot on the ball, Celtic’s furious pressing allowed them to quickly retrieve possession. This was underlined in the 28th minute, when tenacious play from Scott Brown and McGregor saw them steal the ball, presenting Rogic with a sight of goal, his low attempt fizzing inches past the post.

    Brown was to the fore again as Brendan Rodgers’ side almost doubled their advantage on the break. Receiving a pass on the turn just inside in his own half, the skipper did brilliantly to flick the ball over Robert Garret and continue the counter. Rogic played in Sinclair, who tried to pick his spot but curled wide.

    Another pinpoint pass from Rogic then gave Dembele a run on goal but he rolled his shot wide. Sinclair was the next beneficiary of Rogic’s creative craft but, again, Linfield were let off as the winger failed to find the target as he stole in at the far post.

    On the stroke of half-time, Rogic spurned a gilt-edged chance from Tierney’s cross but the Australian internationalist didn’t take long to achieve redemption. Less than two minutes were on the clock in the second half when he picked up the ball around 30 yards from goal, took a touch and then bulleted a shot into the corner beyond Carroll.

    In the 54th minute, Sinclair bagged his brace to make it 3-0. Scampering into the box in search of a return pass, the ball broke back to the Englishman and he made no mistake.

    James Forrest sent a dipping drive over from the angle of the box, before Sinclair came within inches of his hat-trick as his stunning strike from the edge of the area was superbly saved y Carroll who touched the ball on to the bar.

    With the result secured, the six-in-a-row champions made a series of substitutions, with Kundai Benyu coming on for his competitive bow. The Hoops had a number of further opportunities to add to their tally, with Carroll called into action on several occasions. And then, just as the clock ticked down, Armstrong got off the mark for the new season, sweeping into the net after Rogic has wreaked havoc in the visitors’ rearguard with a mazy run into the box.

    CELTIC (3-1-4-1-1) Gordon; Lustig, Simunovic, Tierney; Brown; Forrest (Hayes 67), McGregor, Ntcham (Armstrong 67), Sinclair; Rogic; Dembele
    Not Used: De Vries, Bitton, Benyu, Sviatchenko, Kouassi

    LINFIELD (4-5-1) Carroll; Casement, Stafford, Haughey, Quinn; Mitchell, Garrett (Millar 65),Mulgrew, Lowry, Smyth (Stewart 65); Waterworth (C. Stewart 74)
    Not Used: , Robinson, Millar, Burns, Clarke, Deane

    Website Man of the Match: Scott Sinclair

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