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  • Stylish Celts sweep aside Standard Liege

    Stylish Celts sweep aside Standard Liege

    By: Mark Henderson on 14 Jul, 2018 16:57

  • Pre-season friendly
    Celtic Park, Glasgow
    Saturday, July 14, 2018

    (Edouard 14, Dembele 21, McGregor 41, Johnston 62)

    (Cop 72)

    A FANTASTIC first-half display of attacking football helped Celtic sweep aside Standard Liege in Paradise to continue their excellent early-season form. A stunner from Odsonne Edouard and goals from Moussa Dembele and Callum McGregor had the Hoops in complete charge at the break.

    And despite Brendan Rodgers making 11 changes at the interval, the majority of them the Scottish. champions added a fourth through Mikey Johnston, before the visitors scored a late consolation from Duje Cop.

    It was another confidence-boosting performance from the Bhoys, with attention now turning to the visit of FC Alashkert on Wednesday night where the Celts will attempt to book their place in UEFA Champions League second qualifying round, having amassed a 3-0 lead from the first-leg in Armenia.  

    Dembele and Edouard continued their flourishing forward partnership in the first match at Celtic Park of the new campaign as Brendan Rodgers made only one change to the team that eased to a 3-0 win away to FC Alashkert on Tuesday night, with Scott Bain replacing Craig Gordon between the sticks.

    Although the visitors had the first effort of the game, Paulo Da Silva dragging a shot wide from the angle of the box, it was not a sign of things to come as the Hoops quickly wrestled control of the contest.

    It wasn’t long before James Forrest and Kieran Tierney were making inroads down either flank, with only a last-ditch tackle preventing Edouard getting a clean strike on goal.

    In the 11th minute, Dembele came within inches of the opening the scoring, his shot cannoning off the bar following a typical thrusting run forward from Kristoffer Ajer and a pinpoint pass from Edouard.     

    But Standard didn’t heed that warning as the Bhoys made the breakthrough in spectacular style. Callum McGregor fed Edouard at the angle of the box and he nonchalantly curled an exquisite shot into the top corner. It was a stunning finish.

    Standard tried to respond and Djenpro had a 20-yard volley cleared off the line by Dembele following a corner. Dembele soon threatened down the other again, flashing an effort wide after some nimble footwork to take him away from his marker, before he joined Edouard on the scoresheet.

    Beating full-back Moussa Djenepo to the ball in the box, the striker coolly lobbed the ball over the advancing Gillet to scored Celtic’s second goal in the space of five minutes.   

    It wasn’t completely one-way traffic, and Razvan Marin had an effort saved by Bain and Renaud Emond could only send a tame effort straight at the Hoops keeper from close-range. Normal service quickly resumed, however, as Brendan Rodgers’ men carved out further chances with their slick, high-tempo, passing football

    McGregor rounded Gillet but his cutback was blocked, Dembele headed narrowly over from a corner and Edouard blasted into the side-netting after Ntcham’s rasping drive had been charged down.  

    Just before the break, the rampant hosts inflicted further punishment. Olivier Ntcham drove forward and played in McGregor who showed his customary coolness in front of goal, slotting into the far corner.

    For the start of the second half, Brendan Rodgers sent out a completely new team, with Scott Sinclair, Marvin Compper, Eboue Kouassi, Scott Allan and Ryan Christie featuring alongside a number of home-grown Hoops youngsters.  

    In a search for goals, the visitors committed more men forward and pushed higher up the pitch, but the closest they came to reducing arrears was a header from defender Nekadio Luyindama which flew over.

    Instead, the Scottish champions added to their tally just beyond the hour mark. Sinclair did well to retain possession and smuggle a pass through for Johnston, and the talented teenager did the rest, cleverly chipping the ball into the net as Gillet rushed out to close him down.

    With 18 minutes on the clock, Standard did muster a goal to give their travelling supporters something to cheer, substitute Cop lashing in at the near post following Marin’s cutback.

    However, the Hoops almost made it five as two the young Celts combined. Henderson’s defence-splitting pass sent Johnston scampering clear and the winger’s attempt flashed narrowly wide.

    Conor Hazard was called upon to make a couple of saves as the clock ticked down but the Bhoys held firm to secure the victory on the back of an impressive performance and several eye-catching indvidual showings.

    CELTIC FIRST-HALF TEAM (4-2-3-1) Bain; Hendry, Ajer, Simunovic, Tierney; Brown, Ntcham; Forrest, Edouard, McGregor; Dembele
    SECOND-HALF TEAM (4-2-3-1) Hazard; Ralston, Welsh, Compper, Miller; Eboue, Allan; Johnston, Henderson, Sinclair; Christie
    Not Used: Benyu, Church, McInroy

    STANDARD LIEGE (4-2-3-1) Gillet, Luyindama, Laifis (Vanhesden 80), Kosanovic (Pocognoli 46), Cavanda (Fai 46), Cimirot (Agbu 76), Marin, Edmilson, Mpoku, Djenepo (Bastien 68), Emond (Cop 46)
    Not Used: Bodart, Goreux, Santos, Miangue


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