Celtic held in Champions League qualifier as Postecoglou era begins

Liel Abada's debut goal had Celtic ahead at the break

Ange Postecoglou’s Celtic tenure began with a breathless draw with Midtjylland in a Champions League qualifier that saw both sides reduced to 10 men.

Impressive debutant Liel Abada gave the hosts a deserved lead but was substituted before the break following Nir Bitton’s impulsive dismissal.

Bitton reacted angrily to simulation from Anders Dreyer, who repeated the offence to also earn a second yellow.

Evander curled a free-kick into the top corner to leave the tie in the balance.

The return leg takes place next Wednesday in Denmark, with the winners progressing to face PSV Eindhoven or Galatasaray in the third qualifying round.

Manager Postecoglou received a warm welcome from the 9,000 crowd as Celtic played a competitive home game in front of fans for the first time in 16 months.

With a depleted squad and the Australian still adjusting to his new role, Celtic needed calm heads as they attempted to edge closer to a first Champions League group-stage appearances since 2017-18.

Israel international Bitton, 29, was by far the most experienced member of a makeshift backline, only to let his team-mates down when they had wrested control after a disjointed start.

Bitton’s countryman, nineteen-year-old Abada, had lit up the occasion before his lively debut on the right flank was cut short.

After Odsonne Edouard sent a snap-shot narrowly over the crossbar, Ababa’s two precise deliveries to Ryan Christie resulted in the Scotland midfielder stabbing a shot against the post then sending a flying header too high.

Both players were again involved as the opening goal of the Postecoglou era arrived in the 39th minute. Christie’s angled strike from the left was parried into the centre of the box by goalkeeper Jonas Lossl and Abada pounced to tuck home an awkward finish.

Celtic were a goal up and looking good – then Bitton had a rush of blood to the head. Dreyer tumbled under his challenge in the hope of winning a penalty, prompting Bitton – booked for an earlier foul – to poke a finger in the winger’s face and earn a second yellow.

Abada was sacrificed, with 18-year-old defender Dane Murray on for a debut, partnering 21-year-old Stephen Welsh at centre-back, and the complexion of the tie seemed to have altered drastically.

But Dreyer was dismissed shortly after the interval for a tumble under pressure from Welsh, and captain Callum McGregor thundered a shot off the crossbar as Celtic tried to immediately capitalise.

Christie’s pass then superbly split the Danish defence, but Edouard’s meek shot was blocked by goalkeeper Jonas Lossl’s leg.

Midtyjlland broke upfield and Brazilian midfielder Evander whistled a drive inches past. The hosts failed to heed the warning and Midtjylland, who hadn’t created a clear-cut chance, were level when Evander whipped a free-kick from the left into the top corner, with goalkeeper Vasilis Barkas looking suspect.

Celtic looked the likelier to grab a winner, with Christie firing off target and substitute Tom Rogic having an effort saved, but the game petered out to a frustrating draw for the Scottish side.

More to follow.

Line-ups

Celtic

Formation 4-3-3

  • 1Barkas
  • 56Ralston
  • 57Welsh
  • 6BittonBooked at 44mins
  • 3Taylor
  • 14TurnbullSubstituted forRogicat 78′minutes
  • 12Soro
  • 42McGregor
  • 11AbadaSubstituted forMurrayat 45′minutes
  • 22EdouardSubstituted forAjetiat 78′minutes
  • 17Christie

Substitutes

  • 9Griffiths
  • 10Ajeti
  • 18Rogic
  • 23Bolingoli-Mbombo
  • 26Urhoghide
  • 29Bain
  • 30Shaw
  • 47Murray
  • 49Forrest
  • 52Henderson
  • 54Montgomery
  • 65Hazard

FC Midtjylland

Formation 4-3-3

  • 1Lössl
  • 14DalsgaardBooked at 26mins
  • 28Sviatchenko
  • 5Høegh
  • 29da SilvaSubstituted forAnderssonat 88′minutes
  • 34AndersonSubstituted forMabilat 72′minutes
  • 10da Silva Ferreira
  • 37OnyedikaBooked at 81minsSubstituted forMadsenat 82′minutes
  • 36DreyerBooked at 56mins
  • 74dos Santos JúniorSubstituted forHansenat 87′minutes
  • 7Sisto

Substitutes

  • 2Cools
  • 6Andersson
  • 11Mabil
  • 16Ólafsson
  • 20Nicolaisen
  • 30Thompson
  • 39Torp
  • 43Madsen
  • 44Dyhr
  • 48Hansen
  • 53Lind
  • 54Fraulo

Referee:
Sandro Schärer

Match Stats

Live Text

Post update

Match ends, Celtic 1, FC Midtjylland 1.

  • Source Link: https://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/football/57855563

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