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  • Celtic earn deserved draw in Austria

    Celtic earn deserved draw in Austria

    By: Mark Henderson in Austria on 18 Sep, 2014 20:01

  • UEFA Europa League

    Salzburg

    Thursday, September 18, 2014

    CELTIC...2

    Wakaso 14, Brown 60

    FC SALZBURG...2

    Alan 36, Soriano 78

    GOALS from debutant Mubarak Wakaso and captain Scott Brown sealed a deserved share of the spoils for Celtic in their opening UEFA Europa League match away to FC Salzburg.

    Wakaso’s sublime finish from 20 yards inside the opening 15 minutes gave him and the Scottish champions a dream start in Austria, though their lead didn’t last to half-time thanks to Alan’s deflected finish for the home side.

    An entertaining and enthralling match swung from end to end, before Brown’s long-range volley had the Hoops in front again on the hour mark.

    Craig Gordon was in inspired form for Celtic between the sticks, performing heroics on several occasions to repel Salzburg.

    However, he could do nothing to prevent Jonatan Soriano salvaging a point for the home side with an unstoppable free-kick 12 minutes from time.  

    Wakaso’s inclusion in the starting XI was the only change from the team who defeated Aberdeen 2-1 on Sunday, with Aleksandar Tonev the player to drop out. He was named among the substitutes.

    And it didn’t take long for the winger to make an impact. Just 14 minutes into the match, he received a pass from Kris Commons on the left and swept a first-time shot beyond Peter Gulacsi into the far corner.  

    It was a sublime finish from the Ghanaian and the first serious shot on goal in the game which had started in cagey fashion. A deflected drive from Scott Brown and a rising shot from Marcel Sabitzer were the only incidents of note in the opening exchanges.

     But once the Bhoys made the breakthrough the game became more expansive as the hosts sought a leveller and Celtic countered.

    Kevin Kampl came close to a quick reply, curling a shot inches wide from the edge of the area, before Salzburg talisman Soriano forced Craig Gordon into action at his near post  from a free-kick

    Callum McGregor’s pinpoint pass then released Brown in the box but the midfielder could only drag his shot wide.

    Celtic had restricted the home side to trying their luck from distance until the half-hour mark when a wonder save from Gordon left them holding their heads in disbelief.

    Soriano flighted in a free-kick from the left and Andre Ramalho met it perfectly at the far post, sending his header arrowing towards the far corner. It looked destined for the net but somehow the Scotland internationalist leapt to his right and tipped it wide of the post.

    However, the Hoops shot-stopper could do nothing as Adolf Hutter’s side equalised nine minutes before the interval. Alan was sent scurrying clear by Soriano and the striker’s shot deflected off Ambrose and spun over the helpless Gordon.

    Galvanised by their goal, the Austrian side pushed forward as half-time approached, with Sabitzer lashing a shot narrowly wide, but the visitors held firm.

    Further pressure would come in their direction following the restart, and Gordon had to produce a stunning double save to keep the score all square   

    First, he pushed away Sabitzer’s low drive and he reacted quickly to keep out the rebound from Alan His team-mates were quick to show their appreciation.  

    However, Ronny Deila’s side still looked menacing when they attacked and an audacious attempt from Stefan Scepovic almost restored their advantage.

    Taking Kris Commons’ path in his stride on the right touchline he hammered the ball towards the target and Gulacsi was relieved to see the ball find the side-netting.

    But the keeper was soon picking the ball out of his net as Brown put the Bhoys in charge again. McGregor’s cross was only partially cleared and the skipper’s volley deflected off Ramalho beyond Gulasci.

    Chances continued to fall at either end as this gripping encounter entered its latter stages. Alan’s shot skimmed the outside of the post, before Anthony Stokes was denied by a last-ditch tackle after combing with Commons.

    Wakaso remained a productive outlet for the Hoops, particularly as gaps opened up for him to exploit. And one explosive burst of pace saw him leave one defender for dead and setup McGregor in the box. His shot was blocked, however.

    But with 12 minutes left on the clock, Soriano showed his dead-ball prowess by restoring parity for the second time. The Spanish striker’s dipping and swerving strike from 30 yards was inch perfect. Even Gordon was unable to reach it.

    Wakaso could have won it as the clock ticked down after being released by Johansen but he could't profit. However, on the whole, it had been a satisfying night for the Bhoys. 

    CELTIC (4-2-3-1) Gordon; Ambrose, Denayer, van Dijk, Izaguirre; Brown, Johansen (Kayal 92) McGregor, Commons (Tonev 75) Wakaso; Scepovic (Stokes 67)

    Not Used: Zaluska, O’Connell, Bitton, Berget

    FC SALZBURG (4-4-2) Gulacsi; Schwegler, Ramalho, Hinteregger, Ulmer (Ankersen 82); Kampl, Leitgeb, Ilsanker, Sabitzer; Alan, Soriano

    Not Used: Walke, Schmitz, , Keita, Lazaro, Quaschner,Burno

    Website Man of the Match: Craig Gordon

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