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  • Disappointment for Celtic in Norway

    Disappointment for Celtic in Norway

    By: Mark Henderson in Molde on 22 Oct, 2015 22:08

  • UEFA Europa League Group A
    Aker Stadion, Molde
    Thursday, October 22, 2015

    (Kamara 11, Forren 18, Elyounoussi 56)

    (Commons 55)

    CELTIC’S ambitions of reaching the UEFA Europa League knockout stages suffered a setback with a disappointing 3-1 away defeat to Molde in atrocious weather conditions.

    Despite making a bright start, the Hoops conceded twice in the space of seven minutes to Ola Kamara and Vegard Forren, leaving them with a mountain to climb.

    Kris Commons briefly provided renewed hope with a sublime solo strike 10 minutes into the second half, but Molde immediately added to their tally to take the sting out of the Celtic fightback.

    A late piledriver from distance from Nir Bitton, which crashed off the top of the bar, was the closest the Bhoys came to finding a way back into the match, leaving the Hoops propping up Group A, with three fixtures remaining.  

    Leigh Griffiths was restored to the starting line-up for the Scottish champions at the expense of Nadir Ciftci as Ronny Deila made three changes to the team who triumphed at Motherwell on Saturday.  

    On his return to his homeland, Stefan Johansen came back into side, along with Mikael Lustig, with Tyler Blackett and Tom Rogic the other two to drop out.

    Griffiths swiftly showed his predatory instincts as Celtic made a brisk start in the torrential conditions. In the third minute, Stuart Armstrong found down the right and Griffiths was quickest to his low cutback, but a last-gasp block from Martin Linnes denied the striker as the hosts scrambled the ball clear.

    Moving the ball around crisply on the slick surface, the Hoops were making promising inroads into the Molde backline. A rapid breakaway saw Johansen and Kris Commons carve a path through the middle from the halfway line.

    But this time it was Vegard Forren who made a timely tackle for the Norwegian side as Commons attempted to seize on Johansen’s return pass.

    However, as the wind and rain continued to pound the ground, Solksjaer’s side clinically made the breakthrough. Capitalising upon Dedryck Boyata’s errant pass, Mohamed Elyounoussi picked out Ola Kamara in the box and he steered a shot inside Craig Gordon’s near post.

    The Hoops tried to muster a quick response, enjoying several period of possession without really testing Ethan Horvath.  Stuart Armstrong did get a sight of goal, following a purposeful run from Johansen, but the midfielder’s effort from 20 yards flew wide.

    And in the 18th minute, Molde’s two central defenders combined to double their advantage. After Celtic had failed to clear a corner, Joona Tovio wriggled his way to the byline. His lofted cross was met at the far post by Forren, whose controlled volley evaded Gordon’s despairing dive.

    Having established a two-goal cushion, the home side were more inclined than ever to defend with depth and hit on the break.

    Although the Bhoys fashioned several decent positions they were crowded out when looking to deliver the killer pass or pull the trigger in the attacking third of the pitch.

    Aside from a Griffiths shot that flashed wide, and a host of corners, Horvath was being well protected by his backline.

    At the other end, they had to remain vigilant to the counter attack, particularly when the lively Elyounoussi was in possession down the left. Just before the break, Gordon was called into action to claw away the winger's cross as it almost crept under the bar.

    Celtic had it all to do in the second half and they set about reducing the deficit with zeal, with Bitton trying his luck twice from the edge of the area.

    In the 55th minute, a moment of magic from Commons gave them hope. Intercepting an errant pass, he dummied his way past a defender, before coolly chipping over Horvath.

    But seconds later, Molde re-established their advantage. Mattias Mostrum clipped over an inviting cross from the right and Elyounoussi was on hand to bury a shot under Gordon at the back post.

    That was bitter bow for the Bhoys, instantly shifting the momentum back in Molde’s favour. Still, Ronny Deila’s persevered, with Commons seeing a shot deflected inches wide of the far post and another drive blocked in the box.

    As Celtic committed more men forward, Molde had further chances to increase their advantage on the break, with Kamara spurning two decent opportunities and Gordon saving from Harmeet Singh.

    Bitton hit the bar in the closing minutes, but the Hoops’ mood at the final whistle matched the miserable weather in Norway.  

    CELTIC (4-2-3-1) Gordon; Lustig, Boyata, Ambrose, Izaguirre; Brown, Bitton; Commons (Ciftci 76) Johansen, Armstrong (Mackay-Steven 86); Griffiths
    Not Used: Bailly, Blackett, Rogic, McGregor, Tierney

    MOLDE (4-3-3) Hovarth; Linnes, Tovio, Forren, Rindaroy (Flo 52); Hestad, Singh, Hussain; Mostrum, Kamara (Hestad 74) Elyounoussi (Bakenga 84)
    Not Used: Neydson Da Silva, Semb Berge  Hoiland, Svendsen

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