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  • Courageous performance in Spain as the Bhoys bow out of Europe

    Courageous performance in Spain as the Bhoys bow out of Europe

    By: Laith Al Naeme in Valencia on 21 Feb, 2019 20:10

  • UEFA Europa League
    Round of 32, second leg
    Thursday, February 21, 2019
    Valencia, Spain

    (Gameiro 70)


    A BATTLING performance from the Scottish champions saw Celtic bow out of the UEFA Europa League after a 1-0 (3-0 aggregate) defeat by Valencia tonight (Thursday) at the Mestalla Stadium. 

    Substitute Kevin Gamiero opened the scoring midway through the second-half, after what was an encouraging start from Brendan Rodgers’ men. A first-half Jeremy Toljan sending off, however, made for a difficult night for the Bhoys, as their European journey came to an end.

    A loud atmosphere heralded the teams as the Hoops started the match and they were soon on the front foot. Jonny Hayes aimed to stun the home crowd in the fourth minute as he drove at goal, twisting and turning before unleashing a shot that was held by Neto. 

    The Irishman then won a corner which fell to the feet of Kristoffer Ajer, but the defender’s shot was blocked before his follow-up effort was sent over.

    The Bhoys were then expansive in their play and varied their approach, using the pace of Oliver Burke to stretch the Spaniards. Burke got on to the end of a Scott Brown through-ball, and despite finding his way into a dangerous position, had his effort cleared. 

    Celtic enjoyed a spell of possession, carving out a few half-chances courtesy of Ryan Christie and Jozo Simunovic. Hayes too, who looked lively in the first-half, fired a shot just wide of the post in the 35th minute – but despite the encouraging start, Celtic were reduced to ten men following a second yellow card for Toljan. 

    The right-back picked up a booking for a foul on Goncalo Guedes in the 27th minute, and ten minutes later, was perhaps harshly penalised for a tackle on the same man. The sending off injected more speed and tenacity into the hosts’ performance as Brendan Rodgers was forced to change his side’s shape.

    Daniel Parejo came close to opening the scoring if it wasn’t for the heroics of Scott Bain in goals, when the stopper tipped over a deflected shot in spectacular fashion to deny the Valencia captain in the 42nd minute. Shortly after, Bain was called into action once more, this time producing a strong stop to turn away a powerful drive from Santi Mina.

    The Hoops went into half-time a man down and chasing at least two goals. Valencia pressed hard after the interval, but on the 62nd minute, Ajer had a chance to open the scoring when he latched on to the end of a pin-point Christie set-piece, but his glancing header was off target. 

    Kevin Gameiro entered the field of play in the 68th minute and two minutes later the experienced talisman gave Valencia the advantage. Parejo was found by a long ball to the back post and he knocked it down to Gameiro who tucked the ball away through the legs of Bain.

    From there, Valencia continued to press and came close to a second in the 79th minute. A one-two between Guedes and Mina then resulted in a mix-up from the attackers to relief of the Hoops defence. 

    The Hoops tried to grab one back but Valencia held firm, stemming the flow of attacks with numbers in the box and saw out the match to progress to the last 16 of the competition. 

    With Celtic’s European journey concluded for another season, Brendan’s Bhoys will now turn their full attention to domestic matters as they continue their pursuit of another treble, starting with Sunday's league match against Motherwell.

    CELTIC: Bain; Toljan, Boyata, Simunovic, Hayes; Ajer, Brown; McGregor, Forrest (Edouard 63), Christie; Burke (Johnston 84)
    Subs not used: Gordon, Izaguirre, Lustig, Sinclair, Weah

    VALENCIA: Neto; Wass, Garay (Coquelin 23), Diakhaby, Lato; Torres, Soler, Parejo, Guedes; Sobrino (Gameiro 68), Mina
    Subs not used: Domenech, Cheryshev, Gaya, Lee, Centelles

    Website Man of the Match: Scott Bain


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