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  • Celts held to goalless draw in Rennes friendly at Paradise

    Celts held to goalless draw in Rennes friendly at Paradise

    By: Joe Donnelly on 13 Jul, 2019 16:53

  • Pre-season friendly
    Saturday, July 13, 2019
    Celtic Park, Glasgow



    CELTIC drew 0-0 with French Ligue 1 side Stade Rennais today (Saturday), in a well-contested pre-season friendly at Paradise. Despite ending goalless, the match sets the Scottish champions up well for the second leg of their UEFA Champions League first qualifying round tie against FK Sarajevo this Wednesday.

    The Hoops looked lively from the outset as Griffiths pressed the visitors deep into their half. By chasing the Rennes backline and goalkeeper, the striker won his side an early corner, and while the French outfit managed to scramble clear, the early pressure set the tone for the opening stages of the game.

    The Scottish champions enjoyed the majority of possession in the first 15 minutes, with Lewis Morgan threatening down the right flank, and Connell, Brown and Sinclair combining well in the centre of the final third.

    On the quarter-hour mark, Ewan Henderson carved the home side’s first half-chance, when he collected the back from Sinclair on the left, shifted inside, and curled an effort on target which Tomas Koubek saved. Moments later, Rennes broke on the counter, but a determined Anthony Ralston matched the run of Clement Grenier to block inside his own penalty area.

    As the half progressed, Rennes pushed further up the pitch but rarely threatened the Hoops’ defence. Jonny Hayes tracked his opponents with dependable determination, while the central pairing of Nir Bitton and new Bhoy Jullien looked comfortable on and off the ball.

    On 34 minutes, Henderson did well to win a corner after chasing down a long ball from Scott Brown. The set-piece was cleared, but Celtic’s next opportunity again fell to Henderson when he linked up with Scott Sinclair, drove into the box, and fired a shot across stopped Koubek, denied only by a strong left hand. 

    With five minutes of the first period remaining, Connell was fouled on the edge of the Celtic penalty area. As the visitors regrouped, Craig Gordon reacted by playing a long ball deep into the opposing half for Leigh Griffiths that was ultimately just out of the forward’s reach.

    Goalless at the break, Callum McGregor and Stephen Welsh replaced Brown and Bitton respectively, with the former substitute assuming captain’s duties. Rennes, on the other hand, fielded a fresh line-up from the bench.

    The visitors pressed the Hoops with intensity from the off, and carved their own best chance of the game on 53 minutes. Diafra Sakho did well to beat the offside trap, before forcing a fine save from Craig Gordon at point-blank range.

    Seven minutes after that, substitute Ryan Christie was unlucky not to connect with Hayes’ near-post cross as Celtic sought an opener.

    Three minutes later, Henderson danced past his man on the byline, before squaring to Sinclair in front of goal, but the Englishman was kept out by a superb last-ditch block from Jeremy Gelin. The loose ball was then recycled by Henderson, who chipped towards the back post, a fraction too high for the oncoming Sinclair.

    At the other end, substitute keeper Connor Hazard was called to action ahead of 70 minutes, when a fine 20-yard drive from Lucas Da Cunha was met with an equally competent stop between the sticks.

    Ahead of the match, Neil Lennon stressed a desire to utilise his full squad – in order for some players to rest and for others to clock up some game-time – with an eye on Wednesday’s UEFA Champions League first round qualifier second leg. To this end, the Hoops boss introduced five new faces in Scott Robertson, Odsonne Edouard, Grant Savoury, Calvin Miller and Karamoko Dembele in the game’s final quarter of an hour.

    Another of Celtic’s second-half subs, Kris Ajer, made a valiant block against Hunou with five minutes to go, while Da Cunha sent a shot whizzing past the post with two minutes of normal time remaining.    

    One minute into added time, Edouard latched on to a neat through ball from Christie, but the Frenchman’s lobbed effort was cleared off the line. No goals on the day, but it was a good run-out for Neil Lennon’s squad ahead of European competition next week.

    CELTIC: Gordon (Hazard 57); Ralston (Savoury 86), Bitton (Welsh 46), Jullien (Ajer 57), Hayes (Miller 86); Brown (McGregor 46), Connell (Christie 57) Morgan (Forrest 70), Henderson (Robertson 77), Sinclair (Dembele 77); Griffiths (Edouard 77)
    All substitutes used

    STADE RENNAIS (first-half): Koubek, Boey, Da Silva, Johansson, Grenier, Siebatcheu, Lea Siliki, Maouassa, Lauriente, Tait, Poha
    (second-half): Salin, Nyamsi, Diallo (Gboho 77), Da Cunha, Bourigeaud, Rutter, Camavinga, Soppy, Hunou, Gelin, Trouillet, Sakho

    Website Man of the Match: Lewis Morgan


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