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  • Celtic through to knockout stages despite defeat

    Celtic through to knockout stages despite defeat

    By: Martin Dalziel on 27 Nov, 2014 22:10

  • UEFA Europa League
    Celtic Park, Glasgow
    Thursday, November 27, 2014

    CELTIC...1
    (Johansen 30,)

    FC Salzburg...3
    (Alan 7, 12, Keita 90+1)

    CELTIC qualified for the knockout stages of the UEFA Europa League tonight despite slipping to a 3-1 defeat to FC Salzburg.

    The Austrians dominated the opening stages and scored two quick goals through Brazilian striker, Alan, within 15 minutes. Stefan Johansen replied for Celtic on the half-hour mark before substitute Naby Keita headed past Craig Gordon in stoppage time.

    The defeat was hard to take after such a spirited second-half from the Bhoys, but it was ultimately overtaken by the team’s progression to the last 32 of the tournament after FC Astra beat Dinamo Zagreb 1-0 in Romania.

    Ronny Deila made four changes from the team that started against Dundee at the weekend, with the most notable inclusion being Leigh Griffiths, who started up front for the Bhoys in place of John Guidetti.

    Kris Commons dropped to the bench, the injured Jason Denayer was replaced by Efe Ambrose and Scott Brown returned to the side.

    Celtic started well, pressing Salzburg high up the pitch but the guests were comfortable in possession and took a shock lead inside the first 10 minutes.

    Alan, who scored via the aid of a deflection when the sides met in Austria in September, benefited from one again when Massimo Bruno’s shot cannoned off Virgil van Dijk, spun over the Celtic backline and found the Salzburg striker free in the box.

    Despite claims for offside, Alan didn’t stop and rattled the ball past a helpless Craig Gordon.

    It could have been 2-0 seconds later when Andre Ramalho beat the offside trap again to find Martin Hinteregger free in the box, but Gordon reacted well and palmed his header away.

    Salzburg made no mistake on the 12th minute, however, when a corner was met by Ramalho in the box. His header at the near post was tucked home by Alan again at the back post, unmarked, to make it 2-0.

    Celtic were then left furious when Callum McGregor was barged off the ball in the Salzburg box as they sought an immediate reply, but the referee ignored the claims and waved play on.

    Gordon was then called into action again when Peter Ankerson shot from distance but the Celtic keeper saved well.

    The Hoops then broke up the pitch as Emilio Izaguirre played a one-two with Anthony Stokes but the Honduran’s cross into the box was easily saved by Peter Gulacsi.

    The Bhoys were under the cosh again when a van Dijk slip let the ball run to Ankersen who was then adjudged to have been fouled by Ambrose. Jonatan Soriano took the free-kick, shot and scored, but the goal was ruled out as the set-piece was in-direct and Celtic breathed a sigh of relief.

    Salzburg were in confident mood, passing the ball about freely, but their dominance was broken when Celtic sped up the pitch in a fantastic flowing move.

    Stefan Johansen picked up the ball in midfield and played a pass out wide to Izaguirre. The left-back knocked the ball ahead of his marker, hit the byline and threw in a low cross which Johansen slotted home after setting up the move. Paradise erupted.

    The second half started in scrappy fashion, but Celtic's intentions were clear from the off and they controlled more of the ball but struggled to carve out any openings in a tight Salzburg backline.

    A string of corners were won by Celtic before play stopped after Mulgrew was caught late but the midfielder returned to the action after receiving treatment.

    Celtic were dominant and Ronny Deila brought off Callum McGregor and Stokes for Kris Commons and James Forrest in a bid to make the possession count.

    The visitors were still dangerous on the break, however, and cut Celtic open with a well-worked corner but Bruno’s pass was too heavy for Alan at the back post.

    Salzburg were pinned back but defended in numbers. Celtic were still finding pockets of space, however, and went close to claiming an equaliser when Griffiths volleyed towards goal from the edge of the box, but his shot curled just wide.

    The Celtic boss then made his final throw of the dice when he replaced Mulgrew with Aleksandar Tonev.

    The Bulgarian made an instant impact, playing in Izaguirre whose cross found Griffiths free but the striker’s header was saved.

    However, the Hoops continued to press. Salzburg were camped on the edge of their own box, forcing Celtic to play in front of them but Izaguirre managed to find Johansen in space with a clever through ball.

    The Norwegian back-heeled it in return to the left-back but the Honduran’s shot sailed over.

    The visitors then dealt the Hoops a cruel sucker punch when they hit quickly on the break and Marcel Sabitzer forced Gordon into a good save. The ball fell kindly to Keita, who headed into an empty net.

    It was a cruel blow at the end of a tough match for the Celtic players but a blow which was softened by the welcome news of secured progression to the knockout stages at full-time.

    CELTIC (4-2-3-1) Gordon; Matthews, Ambrose, van Dijk, Izaguirre; Brown, Mulgrew (Tonev 73); McGregor (Forrest 66), Johansen, Stokes (Commons 66); Griffiths.
    Not used: Zaluska, Bitton, Scepovic, Kayal,.

    FC SALZBURG: (4-4-2) Gulacsi; Ankersen (Schwegler 79), Ramalho, Hinteregger, Schmitz; Kampl, Bruno (Keita 70), Ilsanker, Leitgeb; Alan, Soriano (Sabitzer 73).
    Not used: Walke, Caleta-Car, Laimer.

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