| 7.2°C Dublin

Nervy Celtic hang on after letting lead slip

Lille 2 Celtic 2

Close

Celtic’s Mohamed Elyounoussi. Photo: Reuters

Celtic’s Mohamed Elyounoussi. Photo: Reuters

REUTERS

Celtic’s Mohamed Elyounoussi. Photo: Reuters

Celtic let slip a two-goal interval lead to draw with Lille in their thrilling Europa League encounter at the Stade Pierre Mauroy.

Neil Lennon's side were under the spotlight after losing to Rangers in the league and AC Milan in their first Group H fixture, before drawing 3-3 with Aberdeen at Pittodrie on Sunday, but they raced into a two-goal lead through attacker Mohamed Elyounoussi who scored twice in a four-minute first-half spell.

Hoops 'keeper Scott Bain, preferred to Vasilis Barkas, saved a Jonathan David penalty five minutes before the break and it looked like it was going to be Celtic's night but Lille dominated in the second half.

Close

Celtic's Shane Duffy is first to the ball. Photo: AP

Celtic's Shane Duffy is first to the ball. Photo: AP

AP

Celtic's Shane Duffy is first to the ball. Photo: AP

 

Defender Zeki Celik pulled a goal back on 67 minutes and Jonathan Ikone levelled in the 75th minute with Celtic hanging on for a point although they will feel it should have been more.

Lennon made one change with captain Scott Brown taking over from Tom Rogic, who dropped to the bench, joined by Odsonne Edouard and Nir Bitton, who had recovered after missing three matches following positive tests for Covid-19.

There was little indication of the drama to follow as Lille dominated possession in the early stages with Bain making his first real save in the 13th minute following a corner, when he beat away a drive from Boubakary Soumare, before saving Yusuf Yazici's free-kick from 25 yards.

Celtic grew in confidence and in the 19th minute Albian Ajeti had the ball in the Lille net but was well offside then blazed an Elyounoussi cut-back over the bar from eight yards.

Close

Lille's Sven Botman battles for the ball with Celtic's Olivier Ntcham. Photo: AP

Lille's Sven Botman battles for the ball with Celtic's Olivier Ntcham. Photo: AP

AP

Lille's Sven Botman battles for the ball with Celtic's Olivier Ntcham. Photo: AP

 

The Parkhead side's first goal in 28 minutes came after Lille full-back Celik lost possession and when Ajeti flicked the ball to Elyounoussi and he sped towards goal and bent his shot past the helpless Mike Maignan.

Four minutes later Ajeti and Jeremie Frimpong combined and when the Hoops wing-back crossed into the box Elyounoussi swept the ball into the corner from 16 yards.

Lille had the chance to reduce the deficit when referee Aleksandar Stavrev pointed to the spot after a challenge by Shane Duffy on David but the spot kick was blocked by Bain.

The second half was a slog for Lennon's side. Bitton replaced the injured Kristoffer Ajer in the 51st minute and the home side called for Yilmaz and Renato Sanches with Edouard on for Ajeti.

Without Ajer, Celtic wobbled and conceded when Yazici's corner from the left was flicked on by Adama Soumaoro with the unmarked Celik prodding the ball in at the back post.

Close

Celtic manager Neil Lennon. Photo: Reuters

Celtic manager Neil Lennon. Photo: Reuters

REUTERS

Celtic manager Neil Lennon. Photo: Reuters

 

Celtic looked weary and when Celik turned the ball back across the penalty area, Ikone pounced on the loose ball with his deflected shot ending up behind Bain but Lille could not complete the comeback with a winner.

Meanwhile, Alfredo Morelos scored the winner for Rangers in their 1-0 victory over Lech Poznan.

Irish Independent


Privacy