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  • Celtic held by Fenerbahce in Paradise

    Celtic held by Fenerbahce in Paradise

    By: Mark Henderson on 01 Oct, 2015 22:16

  • UEFA Europa League
    Celtic Park, Glasgow
    Thursday, October 1, 2015

    (Griffiths 28, Commons 32)

    (Fernandao 43, 48)

    CELTIC squandered a two-goal lead as they were held at home by Fenerbahce in captivating UEFA Europa League encounter.

    Leigh Griffiths and Kris Commons struck quick-fire goals to put the Hoops in control but their momentum was stifled just before the break as Fernandao capitalised on Efe Ambrose’s error to reduce arrears.

    The same player headed the Turkish side level three minutes after the restart and Craig Gordon had to make several saves to keep them at bay.

    However, the Scottish champions battled back and grew in ascendency in the latter stages, though a winner proved elusive, and they had to be content with a share of the spoils.

    The most eye-catching aspect of the Celtic team was the inclusion of 18-year-old Kieran Tierney at left-back in place of the suspended Emilio Izaguirre.

    Although the Celtic Youth Academy graduate had featured twice for the Hoops during the current campaign, most recently in the League Cup win over Raith Rovers, this was the talented teenager’s European bow for the club. And he didn’t look out of place, producing a disciplined and mature display.  

    The only other change to Ronny Deila’s side from Saturday’s stalemate against Hearts saw Stefan Johansen restored to the central attacking midfield role at the expense of Tom Rogic, who was named among the substitutes.

    Roared on by a partisan home support, Celtic made a brisk start, moving the ball crisply and closing down their opponents with vigour. Within three minutes, they carved out the first effort on goal. After stealing possession from the visitors, the ball was worked wide to Mikael Lustig. His low cross took a touch and fell invitingly for Forrest who dragged a shot wide of the near post.

    The Hoops’ hard work high up the pitch was successful in preventing the Turkish team from building momentum in the early stages.

    Gradually, Vitor Pereira’s side began to enjoy some periods of possession but without ever troubling Craig Gordon or the Celtic backline, a timely defensive header from Lustig at the far post the only moment of concern.    

    Dedryck Boyata’s tremendous tackle to thwart a breakaway down the left from Ozan Tufan summed up the application, intensity and work-rate from the Scottish champions – and this incessant pressure soon caused cracks to appear in the visitors’ rearguard.

    A quickly-taken free-kick from Commons sent Forrest scampering clear. He picked out Lustig in the middle, whose shot was deflected wide. From the resultant corner, Johansen sent a half-volley booming over.

    Tierney was certainly not looking overawed in this high-pressure environment, defending diligently and also contributing to the offense, with an incisive run inside the box eventually culminating in a shot from Commons that flew over.

    In the 28th minute, the hosts broke the deadlock. Lustig flicked on Commons’ corner from the right. It dropped for Griffiths and, although his shot was saved by Fabiano, he slammed in the rebound.

    Less than five minutes later and the rampant Celts doubled their advantage. The purposeful Forrest wriggled his way to byline and his cutback was met first-time by Commons, who made no mistake.

    Paradise was rocking at this point as the Hoops faithful revelled in the team’s position of dominance. Fenerbahce finally mustered an effort on goal when Raul Meireles scuffed a shot wide, but a two-goal cushion for Celtic never looked in doubt until Ambrose was shot with a header back towards Gordon, allowing substitute Fernandao to slide the ball into the net.

    That gave the Turkish side hope and they emerged after the restart with renewed belief. Within three minutes of the second-half they were level. Lustig headed a cross behind at the far post, and from Nani’s delivery, Fernandao glanced a header beyond Gordon.

    From being on top in the opening period, Celtic were now being forced into some desperate defending as Fernandao raced onto a long ball and lobbed wide when Gordon came out to meet him.

    The shot-stopper was then called into action to thwart Hasan Ali Kaldirim, Nani and Deigo as the Hoops struggled to stem the tide.

    But a surging run from captain Brown down the right, in which he earned a free-kick, helped spark a Celtic rally.  Neat link-up play down the left between Forrest and Tierney saw the former test Fabiano with a curling shot, before Commons brought out a flying save from Fabiano with a rasping shot from distance.

    Fabiano had no trouble in dealing with an audacious effort from Nir Bitton but he was unable to grasp Lustig’s weak, trundling shot, forcing Simon Kjaer into a hurried clearance.

    Urged on by the fans, the Hoops went in search of a late winner but Commons was unable to keep his first-time shot down from Lustig’s cutback as a pulsating game ended in stalemate, keeping Celtic in join second-place in Group A.    

    CELTIC (4-2-3-1) Gordon; Lustig, Boyata, Ambrose, Tierney (Blackett 82); Brown, Bitton; Commons, Johansen (Rogic 82), Forrest (Armstrong 90); Griffiths
    Subs: Bailly, Ciftci, Mackay-Steven, Janko

    FENERBAHNCE (4-3-3) Fabiano; Ozbayrakli, Kjaer, Alves, Kaldirim; Tufan (Diego 46), Topal, Meireles (Ba 79); Volkan (Fernandao 40), van Persie, Nani
    Not Used: Demirel, Zeybek, Potuk Erkin

    Website Man of the Match: Scott Brown

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