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  • Celts lose out in Europa League clash with Cluj

    Celts lose out in Europa League clash with Cluj

    By: Tony Connelly on 12 Dec, 2019 19:44

  • Europa League Group Stages, Matchday six
    Thursday, December 12, 2019
    Cluj, Romania

    CELTIC…0

    CFR CLUJ…2
    (Burca 48, Djokovic 70)

    CELTIC’S final game in the group stages of the Europa League ended with a 2-0 loss away to CFR Cluj. Neil Lennon fielded a much-changed Celtic side and the Hoops were unable to continue the excellent form that had secured them top spot in the group.

    Cluj started like a team desperate for a win but Celtic quickly found their feet with some good periods of possession. Ntcham and Youth Academy debutant, Scott Robertson, controlled the midfield and Mikey Johnston looked eager to make an impact in the number 10 role he was assigned.

    He showed his talents early on when he dribbled past a series of challenges from the halfway line before feeding the ball out to Lewis Morgan on the right wing. Bauer’s cross in was the first chance Celtic had in the game but the Cluj defence managed to prevent their goalmouth coming under threat.

    It wasn’t until the 18th that the first real chance of the game came, and it was Cluj who almost scored. A counter-attack led to Billel Omrami tearing down the left flank. He cut inside and a quick one-two with Lacina Traore cut open the Hoops defence. Thankfully Craig Gordon came to the rescue with an excellent save to deny Omrami from around 10 yards.

    Celtic struggled to create much in the way of clear chances in front of goal with the final ball letting them down too often. Nir Bitton’s long-range strike was the first real shot at goal but his dipping effort was comfortably saved by the keeper.

    Cluj threatened again near the end of the first half when the ball broke to Bordeianu on the edge of the area. His effort came off Bitton before it could make its way through to Gordon.

    Celtic responded with their best chance of the half and it was once again Johnston on the end of it. He showed great agility and skill to deceive his marker and fired off a good shot from distance that was deflected just wide of the far post.

    The hosts started the second half on the front foot and Burca headed in from a corner three minutes after the restart. Cluj almost doubled their lead minutes later but Ciprian Deac was denied by a good save from Gordon.

    The pressing from the Romanian side made it difficult for Celtic to build any real momentum but there was still the odd chance, including a Griffiths header from Moritz Bauer’s cross which was saved at the near post, and an Ntcham shot from distance.

    The Romanian champions increased their lead with a counter-attack on 70 minutes that ended with Djokovic smashing in Ciprian Deac’s cutback. Gordon then made another good save to deny Deac a goal. The Romanian burst forward on the counter attack but the Celtic keeper was well-positioned to save his left-footed effort.

    Having topped Group E, Celtic will find out their last 32 opponents when the draw for the next round of the competition is made on Monday (December 16).

    CFR CLUJ: Arlauskis; Burca, Djokovic (Aurelio 82), Omrani (Golofca 73), Deac (Hoban 85), Susic, Culio, Bordeianu, Camora, Traore, Mike
    Subs: Fernandez, Pascanu, Paun, Peteleu

    CELTIC: Gordon; Jullien (Ajer 45), Bitton, Griffiths, Sinclair, Bauer, Morgan (Bayo 66), Johnston (Dembele 72), Ntcham, Bolingoli, Robertson
    Subs: Hazard, Taylor, Forrest, Savoury

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