Friday 22 September 2017

Germans ruthlessly punish Toure mistakes

Celtic 0-2 M'gladbach

Celtic's Kolo Toure had a night to forget Photo: Reuters / Lee Smith
Celtic's Kolo Toure had a night to forget Photo: Reuters / Lee Smith

Roddy Forsyth

Celtic's Champions League hopes were shredded by an understrength Borussia Monchengladbach, who retained too much guile and pace for the Scottish title holders. Lars Stindl and Andre Hahn struck from mistakes in each half by Kolo Toure.

Brendan Rodgers, the Celtic manager, selected a line-up that returned Mikael Lustig to right-back, Toure in central defence, Nir Bitton in the midfield holding position alongside Scott Brown, and Tom Rogic supporting Moussa Dembele in the attacking spearhead role.

Celtic's Erik Sviatchenko misses a chance to score Photo: Reuters / Lee Smith
Celtic's Erik Sviatchenko misses a chance to score Photo: Reuters / Lee Smith

This was the same team that started against Manchester City and had been chosen with the same purpose of a barnstorming start, propelled by the rocket fuel of 'You'll Never Walk Alone' from the home crowd.

Monchengladbach, mind you, had brought a noisy contingent from Germany to urge on a side reputedly in need of all available boost to morale after the loss of six regulars to injury. However, Andre Schubert had prepared his players well for what they could expect on and off the field.

Schubert switched his customary 3-4-3 deployment to an initial match-up with Celtic's 4-2-3-1 which morphed into a 4-4-2 with pace through the middle and frequently overwhelmed the Brown-Bitton arrangement.

Their thrusts targeted the left side of the Celtic defence, where Kieran Tierney frequently found himself isolated.

Borussia Monchengladbach's Lars Stindl scores their first goal Photo: Reuters / Russell Cheyne
Borussia Monchengladbach's Lars Stindl scores their first goal Photo: Reuters / Russell Cheyne

Schubert's tactics were so effective that by the half-hour mark Celtic could look back on only one clear chance, at the very outset, when Scott Sinclair wormed into the box for an angled effort which was taken by Yann Sommer at the second attempt. The flow of attacks, however, was soon moving steadily towards Craig Gordon.

The goalkeeper was required to produce a succession of interventions as Monchengladbach got into their stride. The most obvious danger came from the menacing Andre Hahn, who had two powerful efforts blocked inside the box.

Ibrahama Traore was also in predatory mood and it was from his close-range shot that Gordon dived low to his left to parry, then smother, as Hahn bore down on him. The keeper had to be equally alert when Jonas Hofman delivered a stinging drive that was tipped off the mark and again when Stindl saw his fiery effort touched over the top.

Throughout these alarms the Monchengladbach fans maintained a din which outdistanced their anxious home counterparts, who were not witnessing the script they had believed likely against the bottom team in Group C. Nevertheless, in the last minute of the half the prospect of a sudden and welcome twist was fashioned by Rogic when he executed a perfect pass through the inside-left channel to spring Sinclair free inside the box. The winger, though, shed his composure and shanked his effort wilfully over the top.

The likely cost of this profligacy was made clear to Celtic on the hour when Stindl prompted Hahn eight yards out. Toure tried to shepherd the ball out of play but under pressure from Hahn turned it back towards Stindl, whose angled shot on the run went through Gordon's legs to find the net.

A nightmare evening for Toure was completed when he gifted the ball to Stindl, whose flick set Hahn on course for the second goal despite the defender's despairing attempt to shut him down.

Irish Independent

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