UEFA Champions League Q2
Alejandro Hernandez (ESP)
Celtic FC Scorers :
Sinclair 17’, Rogic 23’
Linfield Yellow Cards :
Waterworth, Garrett, Smyth
Celtic FC Yellow Cards :
Simunovic, Griffiths, Rogic, Brown, Lustig
Linfield Team :
Carroll (GK), Casement, Haughey, Stafford, M.Clarke (J.Stewart 54’), Smyth, Mulgrew ©, Garrett, Lowry, Quinn, Waterworth
Linfield Subs not used :
Deane (GK), C Stewart, Robinson, Millar, Burns, Mitchell
Celtic FC Team :
Gordon (GK), Simunovic, Brown (c), Griffiths (Dembele 69’), Sinclair, Armstrong, Rogic, Lustig, Sviatchenko, Forrest (Hayes 70’), Tierney
Celtic FC Subs not used :
de Vries (GK), Izaguirre, Bitton, McGregor, Eboue
Linfield met Scottish giants Celtic FC in the UEFA Champions League 2nd Qualifying Round 1st leg at Windsor Park this afternoon in an historic tie. It was the first time Linfield had met British opposition in Europe since 1970 when Billy Millen’s magnificent double secured a 2-1 win over Manchester City, only for the Blues to be knocked out on the away goal rule.
The Blues knew they had a massive task in hand to stand a chance against the Scottish League champions and despite the Blues putting in a tireless shift collectively, Celtic’s quality shown as they marched to victory in front of a small amount of their supporters who were sat in the Kop stand.
Tom Rogic threatened first for the Hoops with a sweetly struck strike from 20 yards which sailed just wide of Roy Carroll’s top corner, before James Forrest’s strike from distance was well held by the ‘keeper.
The Celts took a 17th minute lead when Scott Sinclair diverted James Forrest’s lofted cross into the far corner after a pressurising spell.
Brendan Rodgers’ men then made it two with a well-worked corner routine as Tom Rogic found a pocket of space to tuck home Leigh Griffiths’ low corner.
Linfield almost get their noses back in it when Chris Casement advanced down the right wing before he picked out Mark Haughey in the middle. However, the big defender fired his shot over the bar from 12 yards.
The Glaswegian outfit produced their best move of the match on the half-hour mark when neat interplay resulted in Rogic releasing Scott Sinclair, whose curling effort was well blocked by Roy Carroll.
Celtic were unlucky not to add a third on the brink of half-time when Griffith’s corner came all the way through to Lustig at the back post, but he fired just wide of the corner when he probably should have hit the target.
Half Time: Linfield 0 – 2 Celtic
David Healy’s men started the second half in impressive fashion with a good spell in Celtic’s half and went close twice through Waterworth before being dealt a blow when Matthew Clarke had to depart the action through injury.
Rogic threatened again when he met Lustig’s inswinging cross but he fired marginally wide as it looked destined for the far corner.
Scott Sinclair then fired a diving header over Carroll’s crossbar from winger James Forrest’s searching cross.
Carroll showed his experience and quality once again to keep out a superb strike from Stuart Armstrong on the half-volley after Moussa Dembele’s flick-on.
Linfield then went close after good link-up between Lowry and Smyth allowed Lowry to fire in a low cross that was deflected away from goal with a hint of fortune, with Waterworth and Jordan Stewart queuing up.
Celtic’s set-pieces were on the money for the most part and it was from a corner when they went close again when Armstrong’s delivery was headed over by Mark Stafford. Great defending but his heart must have been in his mouth for a split second.
Super Roy Carroll then produced a stunning double save, firstly clawing away a curling strike from Dembele, before bouncing up to gather Lustig’s follow-up. The 40 year-old was springing about like a 21 year-old!
Although defeated, it was a gutsy performance which Linfield manager David Healy can take a lot of positives from, as his team received a warm reception from the fans who clearly appreciated the effort they saw from their team.
Full Time: Linfield 0 – 2 Celtic
LinfieldFC.com Man of the Match: Paul Smyth