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  • Celts slip to Molde defeat at Paradise

    Celts slip to Molde defeat at Paradise

    By: Martin Dalziel on 05 Nov, 2015 20:02

  • UEFA Europa League Group stages
    Celtic Park
    Thursday, November 5, 2015

    (Commons 26)

    (Elyounoussi 21, Hestad 37)

    CELTIC fell to an agonising 2-1 defeat to Molde at Celtic Park tonight as their chances of progressing from the group stages of the UEFA Europa League slipped further from their grasp.

    The Hoops went behind just after 20 minutes when Mohamed Elyounoussi curled in an unchallenged volley from outside the box before Kris Commons deflected Nir Bitton’s shot from distance into the net to level matters in the first-half.

    Molde captain Daniel Hestad had the last say, however, after he converted a deflected cross inside the six-yard box just before half-time to give the visitors three points and leave Celtic bottom of group A.

    The result leaves the Bhoys one point behind Ajax but three behind Fenerbahce in second place, and knowing only maxiumum points from their remaining two fixtures will be enough for them to make it to the knockout round.

    The Bhoys were handed a boost before kick-off when Jozo Simunovic was declared fit to take his place in the starting line-up after he overcame a knock picked up in the win over Aberdeen, meaning there was only one change to the side from the weekend as Stuart Armstrong replaced James Forrest on the left.

    Simunovic’s influence on the play was short-lived, however, after he went down under a heavy challenge from Tommy Hoiland inside 10 minutes and was replaced by Tyler Blackett.

    The Hoops then looked to have taken the lead when Bitton converted a shot from just outside the box but Leigh Griffiths was adjudged to have been in an offside position, and getting a touch on the ball.

    Molde’s reprieve only lasted seconds as the champions went on the hunt again, finding the net through Leigh Griffiths after Commons’ shot was parried by Horvath, but the linesman again flagged the Celtic striker offside.

    Disaster then struck for the Celts when Molde took the lead after the Hoops failed to properly clear their lines following another attack from the visitors.

    Blackett did well to initially clear a Molde cross from the left but his header only fell to the feet of Mohamed Elyounoussi some 20 yards out. He took one touch to control the ball before firing an unstoppable shot past Gordon with the outside of his right foot.

    The visitors were jubilant at taking the lead but Celtic remained focused and finally found the back of the net without question when Bitton’s shot from distance was flicked past Horvath by Commons.

    Molde soon got back in front, however, when Elyounoussi was allowed to gather a cross ball at the back post and shrug off Rogic’s challenge before clipping a pass to the opposite side of the goal where Hestad was on hand to squeeze the ball home.

    It was a sickening blow for the Celts who had been largely on top in an end-to-end first-half but the strike was enough to see the visitors head into the break in front.

    Celtic’s injury problems increased as the second-half got underway after Commons was replaced by James Forrest for the start of the second-half. Molde made their own switch with Ola Kamara replacing Hoiland in attack.

    The teams traded chances with corners as the second period started where the first left off, but neither side could convert.

    Molde were still dangerous on the break and only two brilliant pieces of defending from Dedryck Boyata stopped Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s quick-passing side going further in front before the hour.

    The Celts eventually settled and after some patient play eventually forced a good goal-scoring chance when Lustig got a header on Stuart Armstrong’s cross but Horvath somehow pushed it off the line.

    The Bhoys were then made to sweat again as a combination of Molde’s slick passing and poor distribution in the Celtic midfield allowed the visitors to come forward but the Hoops survived, despite Hestad going close from a corner.

    As time wore on Ronny Deila made his final throw of the dice by bringing on Nadir Ciftci for Blackett as Bitton moved into central defence.

    Griffiths had a brilliant chance to level the score 15 minutes from time after beating the offside trap but his shot flashed inches wide.

    Disaster then struck for the Bhoys when Bitton was shown a straight red card for a foul on Kamara as the second-half substitute raced towards the Celtic box on the counter-attack.

    It was a hammer blow for the Hoops, who had already used all of their subs, and forced Lustig to drop into defence and Ciftci to sit further back in midfield.

    Kamara cracked an effort off the bar but the visitors didn’t add to their advantage. Their first-half goals were enough to condemn the Celts to defeat, however, leaving their hopes of getting out the group looking tough ahead of their next game against Ajax at the end of the month.

    It was a dull end to a poor evening for the Bhoys, with Tierney one of few bright sparks, as they now return their attention to league duty and Ross County on Sunday. 

    CELTIC (4-2-3-1) Gordon; Lustig, Boyata, Simunovic (Blackett 9’ [Ciftci 69’]), Tierney; Bitton, Johansen; Commons (Forrest 46), Rogic, Armstrong; Griffiths
    Not used: Bailly, Ambrose, Mackay-Steven, Izaguirre

    MOLDE (4-3-3) Horvath; Linnes, Toivio, Forren, Rindaroy; Singh, Hestad, Hussain; Mostrom (E. Hestad 62), Hoiland (Kamara 46), Elyounoussi
    Not used: Da Silva, Semb Berg, Gabrielsen, Flo, Agnaldo

    Website man of the match: Kieran Tierney

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