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  • Battling Celts lose 1-0 to Inter Milan in the San Siro

    Battling Celts lose 1-0 to Inter Milan in the San Siro

    By: Martin Dalziel in Milan on 26 Feb, 2015 20:04

  • UEFA Europa League

    Stadio Giuseppe Meazza

    Thursday, February 26, 2015



    (Guarin 87)                                                                                                                                          


    A SPECTACULAR late goal from Fredy Guarin saw Celtic lose 1-0 to Inter Milan tonight in the San Siro.

    The Celts put on a great battling display against Roberto Mancini’s side but were given an uphill battle to fight when Virgil van Dijk was controversially shown a red card in the first half for a second bookable offence after a tackle on Mauro Icardi.

    The Bhoys fought valiantly until the closing minutes despite the man disadvantage but a piece of simple yet outstanding play from Guarin just minutes from time condemned the Hoops to defeat and put them out of the UEFA Europa League.

    Celtic made three changes from the side which beat Hamilton 4-0 at the weekend for the match after Ronny Deila elected to bring Gary Mackay-Steven and Stuart Armstrong back into the starting XI at the expense of Kris Commons and James Forrest.

    Striker John Guidetti retained his place up front after his last-minute equaliser against Inter at Paradise and was supported by the same attacking three that played against Roberto Mancini’s side last Thursday at Celtic Park.

    Adam Matthews also returned at right-back in place of Efe Ambrose meaning the manager made just one change from the team which drew 3-3 with Inter in the first leg.

    Inter controlled the opening stages of the game and tested Craig Gordon straight from the first whistle with a shot from Mauro Icardi at the right angle of the box but Matthews did enough to put the striker off and the Celtic keeper gathered.

    The home side were quick with their passing and a few early balls over the Celtic backline also gave the Hoops rearguard an indication of the Italians’ game plan.

    The Celts were pushed back in the opening minutes but Mackay-Steven looked threatening on the break down the right wing and had a great chance to get the first goal when he found himself one-on-one with Juan Pablo Carrizo but the Inter keeper came out early to block the winger’s shot.

    The home side continued to press and pass the ball well in Celtic’s half and enjoyed good spells of pressure for the first 20 minutes of the game. Mancini’s team looked dangerous on the wings and a low cross from the right from Davide Santon caused panic in the Celtic box when it evaded everyone and headed to Icadri at the back post but the striker couldn’t reach the ball.

    Celtic then started to find their stride and had a strong penalty shout waved away when Stuart Armstrong was bundled off the ball in the box but no whistle came from the referee.

    The official then turned the match on its head when he sent off Virgil van Dijk for a tackle on Icardi deep in Celtic territory. The defender had been booked for an earlier challenge on Rodrigo Palacio and his tussle with Icardi on the right touchline as the pair chased a ball saw the referee give the Dutchman a second yellow card, leaving Celtic with 10 men.

    Inter almost scored from the resultant free-kick but Gordon made a miraculous save to thwart Icardi from close range, although the hit-man was off side.

    Celtic then brought on Efe Ambrose to shore up the defence and took off Mackay-Steven, who had been the Hoops’ best player of the half.

    The Bhoys then kept the scores level just before half time with two pieces of great last-ditch defending as Inter pressed for the first goal. Jason Denayer firstly bravely blocked a shot from Xherdan Shaqiri in the Celtic box before Gordon saved brilliantly to deny Danilo D’Ambrosio from six yards out.

    Inter threatened again before the interval after a mazy run from Hernanes found Palacio in the box but another fine tackle from Emilio Izaguirre blocked the striker’s shot and the teams went in level.

    The second half started with a rousing chorus of You’ll Never Walk Alone echoing around the San Siro as the Celtic support tried to spur their side on after a difficult first half. The backing from the fans seemed to work as the Bhoys came forward from the kick-off with some good spells of play in Inter’s half but the home side’s man advantage helped them side keep the Celts at bay.

    Guidetti did well to cause the Inter defence problems but the home team’s defenders were robust in their handling of the Swedish striker, although he got no help from the referee.

    Ronny Deila then took the striker off and replaced him with James Forrest as he sought to test the Inter defence with fresh legs.

    More decisions from the referee broke up play as Celtic tried to create something in the inter half but the extra man for Mancini’s side made finding space or the killer pass difficult for the Bhoys.

    Inter were happy to sit back and give the Hoops time on the ball but they were still dangerous on the counter attack, which they proved on several occasions but Gordon continued to thwart the Nerazzurri front men with a string of fine saves.

    Icardi, Palacio and Shaqiri then all linked up to create a great chance in the box but Shaqiri’s header went out for a goal kick. Inter then spurned another good chance to get the first goal with a corner from the right just after the hour mark but Andrea Ranocchia’s header at the back post went narrowly wide.

    Craig Gordon was then booked by the referee while taking a goal kick, signalling another frustrating and questionable decision from the official.

    The game was then won just minutes before full time when Guarin picked up the ball 3o yards out and drove at goal.

    The attacker shifted the ball right to open up space and sent an unstoppable shot beyond Craig Gordon and into the back of the net.

    It was a total sucker punch for the Hoops, who had battled so well throughout with only 10 men on the pitch, but was enough to give Inter the win.

    Celtic came back at Inter from the restart but the home side won the ball back and killed time with a corner at the right before the referee blew the final whistle.

    It was a difficult result for the Celts to take but their performance will leave the Hoops faithful with a lot of positives on their trip back to Scotland.

    CELTIC (4-2-3-1) Gordon; Matthews, Denayer, van Dijk, Izaguirre; Brown, Bitton; Mackay-Steven (Ambrose 39), Johansen, Armstrong (Commons 77); Guidetti (Forrest 58)

    Not used: Zaluska, Stokes, Wakaso, Henderson.

    INTER MILAN: (4-3-1-2) Carrizo; Santon, Ranocchia, Juan, D’Ambrosio (Campagnaro 79); Guarin, Medel, Hernanes (Kovacic 79); Shaqiri; Palacio (Puscas 88), Icardi

    Not used: Handanovic, Vidic, Kuzmanovic, Obi.

    Website man of the match: Craig Gordon

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