Friday 19 January 2018

Ledley spares Bhoys' blushes with equaliser

Joe Ledley's second-half header gave Celtic a deserved Europa League point against Rennes, but once again Neil Lennon was left to count the cost of a defensive mistake.

On the half-hour mark, with the game evenly matched, a long punt by home 'keeper Benoit Costil was making its way harmlessly through to Fraser Forster but there appeared to be no communication between him and Cha Du-ri, who helped it on then watched in horror as the ball slipped past the Hoops 'keeper and in to the net.

It looked like another disappointing European night was on the cards for the Parkhead men but they mounted a spirited fightback and in the 70th minute Ledley flicked a Charlie Mulgrew free-kick over Costil to give the visitors a draw, although they remain bottom of Group I on goal difference.

Celtic's first real chance came in the 24th minute when stand-in skipper Mulgrew threaded a long pass through to Anthony Stokes. The Dubliner smartly turned Mangane but Costil turned his shot over the bar. That near miss appeared to energise Lennon's side but they were undone on the half-hour mark when the mix up between Du-ri and Forster handed Rennes the lead.

Celtic still looked a bit shell-shocked at the start of the second half, following what had no doubt been a robust pep-talk by Lennon.

But Celtic gradually came into the game and got a deserved equaliser when midfielder Ledley jumped high in a packed Rennes box to convert Mulgrew's free-kick.

Both sides went all out for the winner and in the dying seconds Forster made yet another great block from Jonathan Pitroipa but the Hoops were worthy of a point, which Lennon and the away fans celebrated with some gusto.

Irish Independent

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