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  • Celtic top Europa League group with win over Rennes

    Celtic top Europa League group with win over Rennes

    By: Tony Connelly on 28 Nov, 2019 21:54

  • UEFA Europa League
    Group E
    Thursday, November 28, 2019
    Celtic Park, Glasgow

    CELTIC…3
    (Morgan 21, Christie 45, Johnston 74)

    RENNES…1
    (Hunou 89)

    NEIL Lennon’s Celtic side made more history as they swept aside Rennes 3-1 at Paradise to guarantee top spot in a European group for the first time. The win took Celtic’s points tally in their Europa League group to 13, the highest number of points ever achieved by a Hoops side in European competition. 

    The visitors proved difficult to break down in the early stages and it took until the 18th minute before Edouard Mendy was properly tested in the Rennes goal. Olivier Ntcham struck an explosive shot from distance but the keeper dived low to deny the French midfielder.

    Midway through the first half Celtic’s attacking pressure began to trouble Rennes more, particularly down the left flank, with Greg Taylor and James Forrest working well together, and the pair were instrumental in opening up the opposition defence for the opening goal.

    Taylor slipped a pass in behind for Forrest to run on to and the winger immediately cut a pass back across the face of goal. Lewis Morgan got between two defenders to steer the ball in at the near post for his first goal at Paradise.

    With the momentum of the goal behind them, Celtic almost doubled their lead minutes later. Ntcham pounced on a clearance on the edge of the box but Maouassa’s sliding block took some of the sting off the shot, allowing the keeper to make a fingertip save.

    Celtic were in clear control and dominated the play throughout the first half, with the French side rarely threatening Fraser Forster.

    Morgan almost scored a second shortly before the break when he rose high to get on the end of Moritz Bauer’s cross but the 23-year-old’s header was too close to the keeper.

    However, Ryan Christie ensured his side went into half-time with a score which better reflected his side’s superiority when he doubled the lead just before the break. Brown headed the ball forward to Christie who quickly worked his way to the edge of the area and drilled a shot in at the near post.

    James Forrest made an impressive attempt to score his 14th goal of the season with a wonderfully-taken volley early in the second half. Christie’s out-swinging corner fell kindly to Forrest on the edge of the penalty area and his first-time strike looked to be heading for the bottom corner before it was blocked.

    Rennes were more active in attack in the second period and the game opened up more as both sides went in search of goals.

    That meant Fraser Forster was called upon to protect Celtic’s lead and the Hoops stopper played a crucial role in protecting Celtic’s lead. He made an impressive point-blank save and he steered the rebound on to the post. The Englishman then made two saves in quick succession as Rennes enjoyed their most fruitful spell going forward midway through the second period.

    It didn’t take Celtic long to reassert their control on the game as the Hoops retained possession and began pressuring their opponent’s goalmouth.

    Mikey Johnston marked his return from injury when he replaced Forrest on the left wing and the young winger scored less than 10 minutes after coming on. An intricate piece of passing between Johnston and Ntcham just outside the box opened up the Rennes defence and a quick drop of the shoulder allowed the young Celt to get away from his marker and drilled a shot across goal.

    Leigh Griffiths came on late in the game and did well to create some space for himself while surrounded by two defenders to force a good save from the keeper from 18 yards.

    At the other end, Rennes grabbed a goal back in the final minute through Adrien Hunou but it did nothing to dent what was a stellar performance in Celtic’s final home game of the group. Neil Lennon’s side will travel to Romania in two weeks to face Cluj, having guaranteed top spot in Group E.

    CELTIC: Forster, Jullien, Taylor, Brown (Bitton 76), Bauer, Morgan, Christie (Griffiths 79), Ntcham, Ajer, McGregor; Forrest (Johnston 66)
    Subs: Gordon, Sinclair, Rogic, Robertson

    RENNES:Mendy, Nyamsi, Siebatcheu, Guitane (Da Cunha 64), Siliki, Bourigeaud, Maouassa, Tait (Gboho 79), Gnagnon, Castillo, Boey (Hunou 79)
    Subs: Salin, Da Silva, Doumbia, Gelin

    Website Man of the Match: Ryan Christie

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