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  • Celtic finish pre-season tour unbeaten

    Celtic finish pre-season tour unbeaten

    By: Mark Henderson in Austria on 11 Jul, 2014 19:15

  • Pre-season friendly,

    Holzhaider Stadion, Freistadt, Austria

    Friday, July 11, 2014

    CELTIC...0

    DUKLA PRAGUE...0

    CELTIC finished their pre-season tour of Austria unbeaten after a hard-fought goal-less draw against Dukla Prague in Freistadt.

    The Hoops controlled large periods of the match but couldn’t find a way through the opposition’s well-organised defence.

    And while Ronny Deila would have hoped to end the trip to Austria with another victory, he would be consoled to see so many of his charges play the full 90 minutes and end the game strongly.  

    With the UEFA Champions League clash against KR Reykjavik looming on the horizon, the Norweigan selected a strong side.

    World Cup Bhoys, Fraser Forster and Emilio Izaguirre both started for the Scottish champions for the first time on the trip following their return from Brazil.

    Teenager Eoghan O’Connell partnered Virgil van Dijk in central defence, with Charlie Mulgrew taking up a central midfield berth.

    In attack, Anthony Stokes led the line, supported by Derk Boerrigter, Kris Commons and Stefan Johansen.

    Celtic made a positive start under the evening sunshine, moving the ball around with pace and purpose as they probed for a route through the Czech side’s defence.

    They Bhoys attempted to mix it up, either playing short passes or going the direct route, seeking to exploit the speed and movement of Boerrigter and Stokes, and Irishman was close to reaching a raking ball over the top from Commons in the seventh minute.

    Stokes had another effort saved at the near post following an enterprising run forward from Eoghan O’Connell out of defence.

    Although the Hoops were dominating proceedings, Dukla were proving a major menace on the counter-attack and they fashioned several decent opening, all of them falling to the lively Michael Krmencik.

    First, the striker blasted wide after getting in behind the Celtic rearguard, before forcing Forster into action after a similar piece of movement. The same player then flicked an effort beyond the far post after the English internationalist had narrowed the angle.   

    That flurry of chances sparked the Celts into action, and a sweeping move down the left involving the impressive Izaguirre and Johansen presented Stokes with a sight of goal. Although the 25-year-old made a clean contact, his shot was straight down the throat of Filip Rada.

    As the game swung from end to end, entertaining a healthy crowd of locals, Matej Hanousek fired over from distance and Krmenick headed wide as both teams went in goal-less at the break.

    Similar to the start of the game, Celtic broke from the blocks after the interval, attempting to up the tempo and regain the ascendancy.

    Adam Matthews tried his luck with a curling shot from which drifted past the post after a nice exchange of passes  before Krmenick brought out a save, albeit a comfortable one, from Forster at the other end.

    Lubos Kozel’s side remained a threat, however. Strong play from Krmenick saw him hold shrug off the attentions of O’Connell and play in Tomas Berger, whose low return pass failed to find his team-mate. Hanousek was also thwarted by Forster.

    As the contest entered the closing stages, Celtic began to crank up the pressure. A lovely piece of control from Stokes saw him take down a long ball and test Rada, who then had to make a smart save from van Dijk’s stinging shot from distance.

    Substitute Callum McGregor was close to pouncing on Stefan Johansen’s driven cross, which had caused panic in the Dukla ranks.

    And as the game entered latter stages, Tony Watt, making his first appearance of pre-season, came off the bench and linked well with Izaguirre on the left. The Honduran elected to shoot from an acute angle instead of picking out McGregor and Rada saved at the near post.

    As the clock ticked down, Commons almost stole the spoils when his drive deflected wide as the Scottish champions ended the game on top.

    CELTIC (4-4-1-1) Forster; Matthews, van Dijk, O’Connell, Izaguirre; Boerrigter (McGregor 70), Mulgrew, Kayal (Bitton 70), Johansen; Commons, Stokes (Watt 78)

    Not Used: Zaluska, Fasan, Lustig, Fisher, Waters, Findlay, F. Twardzik, Henderson, McGeouch, Forrest, Fridjonsson, Pukki, Balde, Watt, Griffiths, Atajic

    Website Man of the Match: Emilio Izaguirre

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