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  • Brilliant Bhoys seal wonderful win in Belgium

    Brilliant Bhoys seal wonderful win in Belgium

    By: Tony Connelly in Brussels on 27 Sep, 2017 17:58

  • UEFA Youth League
    Van Roy Stadium, Denderleeuw
    Wednesday, September 27, 2017

    (Sambi Lokonga 66)

    (Johnston 3, Hendry 11)

    CELTIC Under-19s swept aside their Anderlecht counterparts 2-1 with a fantastic away performance in their second game of this season's UEFA Youth League.

    The young Hoops scored two fabulous first-half goals and defended well in the second half to prevent the home side from drawing level and collect their first three points in the group.

    Tommy McIntyre’s side stunned Anderlecht early on after Michael Johnston put the Hoops in the lead within minutes of kick-off at the Van Roy Stadium in Denderleeuw. Captain Regan Hendry then doubled the lead minutes later to put Celtic two goals ahead.

    Anderlecht winger Albert-Mboyo Sambi Lokonga handed the home side a lifeline with a second-half goal but Celtic defended well to close out the game and clinch a huge win against one of Europe’s strongest youth teams.

    Celtic controlled the play in the first 15-minutes with some wonderful passing and aggressive pressing of the home team.

    Jack Aitchison was instrumental in the opening goal when he held up the ball in the centre circle before sending Johnston on his way. The 18-year-old winger timed his run perfectly and calmly slotted the ball beyond a helpless Olivier Vliegen with a wonderful finish.

    Hendry then doubled Celtic’s advantage in the 10th minute with cool finish following a string of fantastic passes in the lead-up to the goal.  The ball was played out from the back to Ewan Henderson in the middle of the pitch. He then drove forward and slipped a pass through to Jack Aitchison inside the opposition box. The striker clocked Hendry’s run and the skipper did the rest, dinking the ball over Vliegen.

    Aitchison came close to scoring himself midway through the first-half when he collected a loose ball inside the box and attempted to place it in the far bottom corner but his shot was deflected wide.

    The home side had few openings in a first half in which Celtic enjoyed the majority of chances and showed great defensive organisation and aggression to deny Anderlecht any clear-cut opportunities.

    The Belgian side were more aggressive after the half-time break, however, and goalkeeper Ryan Mullen had to make some fantastic saves to protect his team’s two-goal advantage.

    Celtic still looked hungry for more goals, though, and Johnston caused Anderlecht problems on the wing with explosive runs and intelligent passing.

    Anderlecht winger Francis Amuzu was lively in attack and asked questions of the Hoops defence with some tricky footwork and impressive pace. Shortly after the start of the second half he cut inside and ran across the Celtic box, creating enough space to unleash a powerful close-range shot but Mullen showed lightning quick reactions to shut out the home team.

    Lokonga, however, eventually found a way through in the 65th minute, the winger tapping in from close range after Mullen’s initial save.

    The remainder of the game tested Celtic’s defensive organisation, but the Hoops were equal to the challenge, with Stephen Welsh making a vital clearance in defence, while Aitchison continued to trouble the Anderlecht defence on the counter.

    And a mature and composed looking Celtic side ensured Anderlecht could not fashion an equaliser as Tommy McIntyre’s team produced a magnificent performance against an excellent side to clinch a well-deserved victory and a vital three-points.

    CELTIC (4-1-2-3) Mullen; Duffy (Savoury 85), Welsh, Deas, Miller; McInroy; Hill, Henderson (Bell 63); Johnston (Watson 72), Aitchison, Hendry
    Not Used: Willison, Caffrey, Diver, Potter


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