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  • Magnifique fightback puts Celts in pole position against Rosenborg

    Magnifique fightback puts Celts in pole position against Rosenborg

    By: Mark Henderson on 25 Jul, 2018 21:48

  • UEFA Champions League
    Second qualifying round, first-leg
    Celtic Park, Glasgow
    Wednesday, July 25, 2018

    (Edouard 43, 75 Ntcham 46)

    (Meling 16)

    ODSONNE Edouard’s deadly double and Olivier Ntcham’s sublime strike saw Celtic come from behind in Paradise to put Rosenborg to the sword and take pole position in the UEFA Champions League second qualifying round with a 3-1 win.

    The Hoops had trailed to Birger Meling’s early opener but they deservedly levelled before the interval when Edouard netted after being supplied by Sinclair in the box.

    Seconds into the second half, Ntcham curled home a magnificent finish from the edge of the box, sparking an onslaught on the Rosenborg goal, with only the heroics of goalkeeper Andre Hansen thwarting the Scottish champions.

    They added a richly merited third in the 75th minute when Edouard raced onto James Forrest’s pass and finished in style. And the Celts came within inches of inflicting further punishment on the increasingly beleaguered visitors, hitting the woodwork three times.

    However, particularly after going behind early in the contest, it was a satisfying night for Brendan Rodgers and his players, giving them a strong advantage to take into next week’s return game in Trondheim.

    Cristian Gamboa made his first Hoops start since starring for Costa Rica at the World Cup. The right-back last featured for Brendan Rodgers’ side back in February against St Johnstone, but he came into the side after starring for his country in Russia, where he played in all three of their games.

    Gamboa’s inclusion was one of two changes to the team that dispatched FC Alashkert 3-0 last week in the previous round of the competition, with Scott Sinclair also restored to the side. The injured Moussa Dembele and the suspended Jozo Simunovic dropped out.

    It only took Sinclair 30 seconds to make his presence felt, the winger curling over from an acute angle after the visitors failed to properly clear a cross. Rosenborg replied rapidly, however, and Pal Andre Helland dragged a shot wide following a counter-attack.

    Back came the Bhoys and Odsonne Edouard fashioned room on the edge of the box, before bringing out the first save of the match from Hanson, albeit it was comfortable for the goalkeeper.

    As both teams continued to show attacking intent, Mike Jenson wasn’t far away from connecting with a cross for the Trondheim team, before Olivier Ntcham lashed over from distance. It was Rosenborg who struck first, though. Nicklas Bendtner slipped a pass inside for the onrushing Meling, whose first-time shot flew beyond Craig Gordon.   

    The home crowd were only momentarily silenced, however, before issuing a fresh roar of encouragement, and the players responded. Kristoffer Ajer was unable to get a touch to Callum McGregor’s corner, Ntcham flashed another effort wide and McGregor’s deflected drive forced Hanson into action again.

    The Scottish champions were also denied what looked a strong penalty claim when Ntcham went down in the box under Vegar Hedenstad’s challenge as the midfielder attempted to spin away from the defender. Much to the ire of the Celtic dugout and home crowd, referee Bert Vertenten, was unmoved.

    As the half wore on, the pressure increased on the Rosenborg goal, with Sinclair’s rasping effort deflected over. Eventually, two minutes before the break, Celtic got their rewards. Sinclair darted into the box and picked out Edouard, who coolly slotted home amid a ruck of players.

    And with a bit more luck, the Bhoys could have gone in at the interval ahead as Forrest’s inviting cutback evaded everyone in the middle, much to the relief of Rini Coolen’s men.

    Still, they didn’t have long to wait after the restart to complete the turnaround – 42 seconds to be exact. Ntcham received a pass at the edge of the box, cut inside two defenders and then curled a magnificent shot into the top corner, sending Celtic Park into raptures.

    It was one-way traffic now, with the Hoops looking a threat every time they ventured forward. McGregor had a shot deflected wide and then, following the resultant corner, the same player’s cross was tipped onto the bar by the back-tracking Hansen.

    Moments later, the Rosenborg shot-stopper was beaten, but he was relieved to see Edouard’s free-kick flash inches wide of the far post. After a Forrest thrust into the box had caused consternation to the Norwegian side, Gamboa was next to try his luck, his long-range effort deflecting into the side-netting.

    The barrage continued and Edouard, a growing menace for the away side, supplied Jack Hendry but the defender was denied by a last-ditch block, while Hansen blocked Sinclair’s angled shot.

    Midway through the second half, Ntcham was denied a sensational second by a superb save from Hansen, the keeper somehow getting a hand to the Frenchman’s dipping, curling shot, to send it on to the bar. Tierney was then thwarted twice in quick succession by Hansen, first from Gamboa’s low centre and then after he’d been teed-up by Sinclair.

    Finally, with 15 minutes let on the clock, Rosenborg’s resilience was broken. Forrest released Edouard, who broke the offside trap, raced in on goal, before showing incredible composure to coolly chip home over the advancing Hansen.  

    Tom Rogic, making his first appearance since returning from the World Cup, then entered the fray – a signal of Celtic’s intent to add to their tally. And they came so close to achieving that objective as Ajer headed on to the bar from McGregor’s free-kick, though the cheers at the final whistle said it all – it had been an excellent night’s work from the Scottish champions.  

    CELTIC 4-2-3-1) Gordon; Gamboa, Hendry, Ajer, Tierney; Brown, Ntcham (Rogic 76); McGregor, Forrest, Sinclair; Edouard
    Not Used: Bain, Christie, Allan, Ralston, Johnston, Kouassi

    ROSENBORG (4-3-3) Hansen; Hedenstad, Reginiussen, Hovland, Meling; Jensen, Lundemo (Soderlund 61), Trondsen; Helland (Gersbach 73), Bendtner, Levi
    Not Used: Osbo, Viljalmsson, Reitan, Konradsen, Ceide

    Website Man of the Match: Odsonne Edouard


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