Dembele spot-on as Celtic earn point to keep their hopes alive
B'Gladbach 1 Celtic 1
Published 02/11/2016 | 02:30
Celtic could not alter the lamentable statistic that saw them win only one of 25 away games in Europe going into this tie, but they maintained a slim hope of Europa League football beyond Christmas with a disciplined display in Monchengladbach which saw them come back from the loss of a first-half opener by Lars Stindl to draw level with a late penalty conversion by Moussa Dembele.
In the early stages, Celtic's best passage of play, which saw them move sweetly from back to front in a move involving most of their players, came to an end with a careless loss of possession in the centre, from which the home side broke. Tobias Strobl surged forward from defence to overlap his attackers and his angled strike saw Craig Gordon block on his line.
Celtic, though retaliated in kind and came even closer to taking the lead.
Dembele's forcing run saw the ball break loose to Scott Sinclair who took a touch before flighting a delicately curled shot between the two Gladbach central defenders, beyond Yann Sommer and off the inside of his left-hand post.
Agonisingly for Sinclair, the ball ricocheted back across the goalmouth but with no Celtic player close enough to turn it across the unguarded line.
At this stage of the contest, Celtic were entitled to feel that they had given as good as they had got, especially since Strobl's effort was the home side's sole shot on target.
That state of affairs changed decisively just after the half hour when Andre Schubert's forwards at last got beyond Emilio Izaguirre for Thorgan Hazard to place a dipping cross into the heart of the box where the advancing Stindl, who scored the opener in Glasgow, repeated the exercise with a low volley beyond Gordon, while Scott Brown howled at Erik Sviatchenko for having failed to intervene.
The pattern of an edgy tactical battle was extended beyond the interval into a second half in which Brown seemed to have surrendered Celtic's position irretrievably when ambushed in midfield as Fabian Johnson broke through for a low angled shot which was nudged behind for a corner by Gordon. From the set-piece, Johnson fed Andre Hahn whose drive smacked off the same post struck earlier by Sinclair.
Fate, having dealt its hand to each team with equity in that respect, then offered Dembele the opportunity to obscure the recollection of his missed penalty kick in Celtic's opening group stage outing against Barcelona.
Pressing into the box on the left he was manhandled off the ball by Julian Korb who was shown the red card.
He took his time departing the scene, a delay which increased the pressure on Dembele. Even when Korb had cleared the field, the referee engaged in a long discussion with Dembele before permitting the Frenchman to address his task.
With icy composure, Dembele stayed motionless for a few more seconds before stepping up to send Sommer the wrong way. Even then Celtic might have emerged with full reward when Callum McGregor got beyond Gladbach's rejigged back line but put fractionally too much weight on his effort and saw it beat Sommer but skid narrowly, agonisingly beyond the far post. (© Daily Telegraph, London)