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  • Celts draw with Rapid Vienna after hard-fought friendly

    Celts draw with Rapid Vienna after hard-fought friendly

    By: Martin Dalziel in Austria on 06 Jul, 2014 19:07

  • Pre-season friendly

    Gerhard Hanappi Stadion

    Sunday, July 3, 2014

    CELTIC...1

    Pukki 70

    Rapid Vienna...1

    van Dijk o.g. 7

    CELTIC’S second game of the pre-season tour ended well in a 1-1 draw with Rapid Vienna - after they had got off to the worst possible start.

    The Hoops went a man and a goal down within the first few minutes of the match but fought back bravely to claim a draw through Finnish striker and second half substitute Teemu Pukki.

    There was concern for the Celtic bench almost immediately after kick off when skipper Scott Brown pulled up with a yet-to-be diagnosed knock.

    The talismanic captain signalled to the bench that his match was over after one of his first touches of the game.

    After being stretchered off Brown was replaced by Beram Kayal but matters deteriorated further for the Scottish Champions.

    Rapid won a free kick down Celtic’s left flank and the ball in from the Austrian side’s captain, Steffen Hofmann, skimmed off the top of Virgil van Dijk’s head and past the stranded Lukas Zaluska in the Celtic goal.

    The Hoops were rattled but in true champions fashion they remained composed and began to impose themselves on the game.

    The manager named the same starting line up which beat Russian side FK Krasnodar 3-1 in the first match of the pre-season tour and it was the opening goalscorer of that match, Anthony Stokes, who threatened first for Celtic.

    The Irishman picked the ball up at the edge of the Rapid box but his shot was smothered by Jan Novota in the Rapid goal.

    The Hoops tested the Rapid goal again with a free kick around 30 yards out after Dylan McGeough was bundled off the ball. Commons’ shot skimmed over the bar and Rapid broke quickly up the pitch in a counter attack.

    The move was snuffed out by Celtic but the 32-time Austrian champions piled on the pressure with a series of corners on the 20 minute mark.

    Celtic held firm and defended the set pieces well and continued to build from the back.

    The Hoops had a great chance to level the score on 27 minutes after Stokes beat the offside trap and played a perfect pass to Derk Boerrigter in the box. The ball appeared to bobble as the Dutchman took his shot and the effort went narrowly wide of the open goal.

    There was another moment of concern shortly thereafter when Stokes pulled up rubbing his knee but the striker was back on his feet quickly.

    Play then briefly stopped for a water break, such was the heat on the pitch, and the home fans did their best to crank the temperatures up in the stands with a number of visual displays.

    Celtic maintained possession well but were frustrated in the final third by a resolute Rapid defence.

    Commons was the main outlet for the Bhoys in the closing stages of the first half, operating in a central attacking role as he did last season, but his runs were swatted by the Rapid defence at the final turn every time.

    The first half came to a close with a chance from McGeouch following a Celtic corner but his shot went wide and the teams returned to the dressing room for the break.

    At half time, the Rapid stadium announcer spoke to the fans and introduced former players and a singer as the club toasted its last match at their home stadium before it closes for redevelopment.

    The Hoops came back out for the second half reinvigorated and started well, carving out a number of early chances through free kicks but failed to find the net.

    Commons tried his luck from range with a well-struck volley but the Rapid keeper was equal to the shot.

    The Hoops continued to control possession in the first 10 minutes of the second half but struggled to find a gap in the Rapid back line.

    The Austrians still looked threatening when they attacked and tested Lukas Zaluska with a well-struck free kick on the edge of the box.

    Ronny Deila made seven changes on 60 minutes with Zaluska, Johansen, Lustig, Stokes, McGeough, Commons and Boerrigter all going off.

    On came Balde, McGregor, Henderson, Griffiths, Matthews, Pukki and Fasan. And it would be the introduction of Pukki that would prove pivotal.

    The Hoops finally made the breakthrough on 70 minutes following a break down the right from Griffiths, whose ball into the box found the Finnish hitman. His first shot was saved well by Jan Novota but he made no mistake with the rebound and Celtic drew level.

    The Scottish champions continued to press with Kayal at the centre of the attacks. His dynamism, tenacity and intensity continued to drive the team up the pitch and create chances.

    He was then substituted by the manager after putting in a tremendous shift and was replaced by Eoghan O’Connell.

    Griffiths then did well to beat his man in the box but his touch was too heavy and the ball went out of play.

    The resulting Rapid goal kick saw the Austrian side come up the pitch and attempt to catch the Celtic defence on the hop.

    The Hoops remained vigilant, however, and snuffed out the late attack.

    The Hoops continued to press by applying pressure deep in the Rapid half in search of a second goal and went close after Balde cut inside from the left but his powerful shot went over the bar on 90 minutes.

    The referee then ended the game with the scores even.

    Celtic now look to their next pre-season game against LSK Linz on Tuesday at 6pm Celtic Park time.

    CELTIC (4-3-3) Zaluska; Lustig, van Dijk, Mulgrew, F. Twardzik; Brown, Johansen, Commons; McGeouch, Stokes, Boerrigter.

    Website Man of the Match: Beram Kayal

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