Wednesday 17 July 2019

Lennon hails Edouard as battling Bhoys bounce back

Sarajevo 1 Celtic 3

Sarajevo take the lead against Celtic. Photo: AFP/Getty Images
Sarajevo take the lead against Celtic. Photo: AFP/Getty Images

Ronnie Esplin

Celtic boss Neil Lennon revealed an interval change of boots saw Odsonne Edouard demonstrate once more against Sarajevo that he is "a big-game player."

The French striker struggled to keep his feet in the first leg of the Champions League first qualifier at a sodden Asim Ferhatovic Hase stadium, where Mirko Oremus put the hosts ahead in the 29th minute before Mikey Johnston quickly levelled.

Edouard, 21, scored both goals in the 2-1 Scottish Cup final win over Hearts last season to give Celtic an unprecedented domestic treble treble and he started this campaign with a classy finish in 51st minute before substitute Scott Sinclair added a third with a cheeky back-heel four minutes from time.

Assured

"Odsonne had to change his boots at half-time because the pitch was very heavy," said Lennon. "He was slipping a little bit but looked a lot more assured in the second half.

"Odsonne is a big-game player. You don't have to whip him too much to get a response from him. His finish showed great composure. Mikey scored a great goal, it was great hit. Again, he did some special things in the game, so he can be delighted.

Michael Johnston lines up a cross for Celtic. Photo: AFP/Getty Images
Michael Johnston lines up a cross for Celtic. Photo: AFP/Getty Images

"It was a really important goal at that stage of the game. It settled us and we had control after that."

Celtic have been linked with 20-year-old Ecuadorian midfielder Sergio Quintero, but when asked about the Imbabura SC player Lennon said: "I don't know where that has come from. He has not cropped up in any conversation so far."

It was the first qualifying game out of four qualifying rounds to make the group stages and the Glasgow club are now heavy favourites to go through.

The return game is at Parkhead next Wednesday night, with the victors taking on the winners of the tie between Estonian side Nomme Kalju and Shkendija of North Macedonia.

Ryan Christie goes shoulder-to-shoulder with Mirko Oremus of F.K. Sarajevo. Photo: AFP/Getty Images
Ryan Christie goes shoulder-to-shoulder with Mirko Oremus of F.K. Sarajevo. Photo: AFP/Getty Images

Lennon was pleased with what his side are taking into the second leg but insists the tie is not over.

He said: "To score three goals away from home, no matter the level or stage, at this stage of the season is very promising.

"It is so early in our preparation but the condition of the players, the quality of the goals in the game was great. It was a terrific team performance.

"They were well set up tactically, we knew they would be a real danger at set-plays, which proved to be the case, and we had to dig in a little bit and once we did we took control of the game. I was really pleased about how we reacted to their goal."

Michael Johnston battles for possession with Besim Serbecic (L) and Halid Sabanovic (R). Photo: AFP/Getty Images
Michael Johnston battles for possession with Besim Serbecic (L) and Halid Sabanovic (R). Photo: AFP/Getty Images
Ryan Christie fires a shot at goal. Photo: AFP/Getty Images
Ryan Christie fires a shot at goal. Photo: AFP/Getty Images

Irish Independent

The Throw-In: Kerry back to their best, Connolly’s return and Cork’s baffling inconsistency

In association with Bord Gáis Energy

Editor's Choice

Also in Sport