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  • Celts end Euro campaign with battling draw

    Celts end Euro campaign with battling draw

    By: Martin Dalziel in Istanbul on 10 Dec, 2015 20:10

  • UEFA Europa League
    Sukru Saracoglu, Istanbul
    Thursday, December 10, 2015


    (Markovic 39’)


    (Commons 75’)

    A PIN-POINT header from second-half substitute Kris Commons saw Celtic finish their UEFA Europa League campaign with a 1-1 draw away to Fenerbahce.

    The Hoops attacker was only seconds on the pitch when he broke into the box and stooped to direct Mikael Lustig’s clipped cross from the right beyond Fabiano to level the tie after Lazar Markovic had put the home side in front just before half-time.

    Fenerbahce had gone down to 10 men minutes before Commons’ introduction when Diego was shown a straight red card for kicking out at Stefan Johansen but the Celts couldn’t capitalise on their numerical advantage to find the winner.

    The result did end their Europa League campaign on a positive note, however, and they will look to build on the resilient showing in Istanbul for next season.

    Ronny Deila made just two changes to his team for the match following the Bhoys’ last outing, with Scott Allan winning his first start and Nadir Ciftci replacing Leigh Griffiths up front.

    A deafening atmosphere heralded the teams as Celtic started the match and they were soon on the back foot. Good interplay on the edge of the Hoops penalty area allowed Alper Potuk to sprint into the box and crack a shot at goal inside the opening minutes, which Craig Gordon got the slightest of touches to, sending it on to the woodwork and away to safety.

    The game had a frenetic feel to it in the early stages with the Bhoys guilty of giving away a series of fouls, the worst of which came from Jozo Simunovic, who was booked after he clattered into Gokhan Gonul near the left touchline.

    Fenerbahce were expansive in their play and varied their approach, using their pace on the wings to stretch the Bhoys but Gordon was equal to their deliveries from the flanks.

    Celtic soon gained their composure and created a golden opportunity to take the lead when Nir Bitton picked out the run of Cifti into the area but the back-tracking Abdoulaye Ba came to the rescue of his team with a well-timed challenge on the Turkish striker.

    Fenerbahce then reasserted their dominance for a spell, with Diego pulling the strings outside the box. The tricky Brazilian brought out a brilliant stop from Gordon when he hit a squiggling effort from distance and the Hoops keeper was alert again to stop Souza on the rebound, but the Bhoys soon found themselves behind after a clinical counter-attack from the home team shortly before half-time.

    Possession was lost high up the pitch and Potuk broke forward into Celtic territory where he chipped a ball over Johansen for Markovic to run on to.

    The midfielder beat the Norwegian for pace and as Gordon came out to meet him, the ball took a horrible bounce through the keeper’s legs, allowing Markovic to convert from a tight angle, despite the best efforts of Johansen, Simunovic and Dedryck Boyata on the line.

    The goal came at a bad time for Celtic, with only minutes to spare until the interval but they responded positively and almost equalised through Lustig’s deflected shot but the Swede’s half-volley just skimmed the post.

    Fenerbahce went straight back on the attack from the restart with their high pressing choking Celtic’s midfield play.

    Fernandao, who’d been largely quiet in the first-half, began to show intent and used a good burst of pace to latch on to a long pass as he bore down on goal but Gordon was quick off his line to gather at the striker’s feet.

    The home side kept the ball well as they did in the first half but Celtic’s defence were quick in the tackle with Kieran Tierney particularly decisive on a number of occasions.

    The game was then flipped on its head when Diego was shown a straight red card for a petulant kick at Johansen after Bitton had robbed him of possession, reducing Fenerbahce to 10 men just after James Forrest had replaced Stuart Armstrong for the Hoops with under 30 minutes left.

    The home team remained in the ascendancy but that changed with the introduction of Commons, who came on for Scott Allan with 15 minutes left, and took only seconds to get involved in the action when he got an accurate header on the end of Lustig’s chipped cut-back to level the match.

    It was a brilliant and instant impact from the sub who came on alongside Tom Rogic as part of a double switch, with the Australian replacing Johansen, and gave the Celts the momentum going into the closing stages.

    The Hoops could have been awarded a penalty when the ball struck Gonul’s hand in the area but claims were waved away and Fenerbahce held firm, stemming the flow of Celtic’s attacks with numbers in the box and saw out the match with a draw enough to see them progress to the knockout stages alongside Molde.

    CELTIC (4-2-3-1) Gordon; Lustig, Boyata, Simunovic, Tierney; Johansen (Rogic 74), Bitton; McGregor, Allan (Commons 74, Armstrong (Forrest 63); Ciftci

    Not used: Bailly, Izaguirre, Ambrose, Mackay-Steven

    FENERBAHCE (4-2-3-1) Fabiano; Gonul, Ba, Alves, Kaldrum; Souza, Topal; Markovic (Tufan 83), Diego (sent-off 67), Potuk; Fernandao (Erkin 86)

    Not used: Demirel, Zeybek, Ozbayrakli, Kadlec, Civelek,

    Website Man of the Match: Kieran Tierney

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