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  • Brave Bhoys beaten by Bayern in Paradise thriller

    Brave Bhoys beaten by Bayern in Paradise thriller

    By: Mark Henderson on 31 Oct, 2017 21:57

  • UEFA Champions League
    Celtic Park, Glasgow
    Tuesday, October 31, 2017

    CELTIC...1
    (McGregor 74)

    BAYERN MUNICH...2
    (Coman 22, Javi Martinez 77)

    DESPITE a tremendous performance, full of bravery, aggression and no little style, Celtic ended a pulsating UEFA Champions League encounter with Bayern Munich with no reward, going down to a narrow 2-1 defeat in Paradise.

    The Hoops impressed in the first-half but they trailed at the interval after Kingsley Coman capitalised on the home side’s failure to deal with Sven Ulreich’s long clearance

    But Callum McGregor deservedly levelled for the Hoops with 16 minutes left on the clock, finding the net after excellent work from James Forrest, who ran the away side ragged all night with a wonderful display of wing-wizardry.

    That set up a grandstand finish but it was the Germans who grabbed the winner when Javi Martinez headed in Coman’s cross, an undeserved outcome for Brendan Rodgers’ side who will take huge heart from a mature and spirited showing that proved they could mix it with the best in Europe.

    Scott Brown was one of seven players restored to the side following Saturday’s draw with Kilmarnock, with Dedryck Boyata, Forrest, Stuart Armstrong, Scott Sinclair, McGregor and Moussa Dembele also coming back into the team.

    On Hallowe'en, the home crowd served up their customary fearsome noise levels ahead of kick-off and the atmosphere soon reached red-hot levels in the Paradise caldron as the Hoops fashioned the first chance in the fifth minute.

    Tierney showed terrific tenacity to drive forward down the right and move the ball on to to Forrest. He darted into the box before picking out the onrushing Armstrong, who had ghosted in at the far post, but the Scotland internationalist was unable to steer his shot on target.

    Brendan Rodgers’ side, lining up with a back-three, were confident and purposeful in the opening exchanges, showing excellent composure on the ball as they enjoyed prolonged periods of possessions, despite the high pressing of the German side.  

    When the Hoops attacked, they did so with real pace and intensity, with the explosive Forrest particularly prominent, and he caused problems again in the 13th minute after collecting Armstrong’s return pass and cutting the ball from the byline, but the ball was hooked clear by the visitors.  

    Making his first UEFA Champions League start this season, Dembele looked hungry to make an impact and he did well to shrug off the attentions of Jerome Boateng and progress into the box, though he could only drag his final effort wide.  

    Bayern had been restricted to speculative long-range attempts from Arturo Vidal and David Alaba, but they almost found a way through in the 20th minute when Alaba and Coman combined down the left, but Boyata was on hand to make a vital interception.

    Given Jupp Heynckes’ side had barely threatened, there was real frustration among the hosts when they took the lead after a defensive mix-up. From goalkeeper Ulreich’s long punt up the park, Coman broke clear and evaded Craig Gordon, who had raced from his goal, and the French internationalist picked his spot, despite the efforts of two backtracking Celtic defenders. Coman did appear to handle the ball in the build-up but Celtic’s appeals to the officials were in vain.  

    Undeterred by this setback, the Hoops stuck to their game-plan and only a last-ditch tackle from Alaba prevented them from restoring parity as Dembele prepared to apply the finish to Armstrong’s return pass, following another slick attacking move.   

    Celtic continued to look threatening, forcing a series of corners and sending a number of dangerous deliveries into the box, with Lustig having a shot blocked from Armstrong’s free-kick – though Bayern did serve a warning towards the end of the half when Corentin Tolisso volleyed over.

    Continuing where they left off in the first-half, the Scottish treble-winners were quickly back on the front foot after the restart, and Ulreich had to make a superb one-handed save to deny Armstrong after another enterprising burst from Forrest.

    Nir Bitton also called Ulreich into action with a dipping free-kick, though this proved a more comfortable stop for the Bayern keeper. At the other end, Gordon saved from Alaba,

    Both teams were going toe-to-toe in an enthralling contest. James had a shot brilliantly blocked by Gordon and the outstanding Forrest had a shot deflected wide of the near post.

    As the Hoops faithful paid their traditional tribute to the Lisbon Lions in the 67th minute, their roars of encouragement galvanised the Celts into further offensive action and after good work from Tierney down the left, Forrest knocked the ball back into the mix, and it took a last-gasp tackle from Niklas Sule to thwart Dembele from connecting.

    Finally, their pressure paid off. Forrest, unsurprisingly was to the fore, thrusting at the heart of the Bayern backline and spotting the run for McGregor, who steered a shot under Ulreich, sending Celtic Park into raptures.  

    Paradise was absolutely rocking in a wave of euphoria, but just three minutes later, the Bundesliga outfit ruthlessly restored their lead as Martinez headed home from Coman’s cross.

    Back came the Bhoys, and Dembele shot over on the half-volley from Tierney’s delivery and, although they applied some late pressure, Bayern held firm to claim the three points. But the applause at the final whistle said it all. This had been a Celtic performance to be proud of.

    CELTIC (3-4-2-1) Gordon; Lustig, Boyata, Bitton; Forrest, Brown, Armstrong (Griffiths 79), Tierney; Sinclair (Rogic 64), McGregor; Dembele
    Not Used: de Vries, Gamboa, Hayes, Ntcham, Ajer

    BAYERN MUNICH (4-2-3-1) Ulreich; Rafinha, Sule, Boateng, Alaba; Tolisso (Kimmich 83), Martinez; Robben (Thiago 90+3), Vidal (Rudy 59), Coman; James
    Not Used: Starke, Hummels, Friedl, Wintzheimer

    Website Man of the Match: James Forrest

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