Belfast Telegraph

Monday 22 September 2014

Europa League: Deadly Ledley lifts Celtic

Celtic's Joe Ledley celebrates with team mates after scoring during the Europa League Group I qualifying soccer match against Rennes

Rennes 1 Celtic 1: Celtic manager Neil Lennon praised his goalkeeper Fraser Forster for the way he bounced back from a first-half blunder to help the Hoops rescue a Europa League point against Rennes.

On the half-hour mark, with the game evenly-matched, a long punt by home goalkeeper Benoit Costil was making its way harmlessly through to Forster.

However, an apparent lack of communication between him and Cha Du-ri saw the South Korean help the ball on then watch in horror as the ball slipped past the goalkeeper and into the net.

Joe Ledley levelled in the 70th minute when he headed in a Charlie Mulgrew free-kick, but it was a string of saves by Forster, in his second loan spell from Newcastle, which kept Celtic in the game although the Parkhead side probably deserved a point.

Lennon embraced his keeper at the final whistle and the Hoops boss said afterwards: “The two guys involved showed great character. Cha had a great second-half and Forster made some wonderful saves.

“Away from home, no matter who you are, you need your goalkeeper to make some good saves at crucial moments and he did that for us tonight having come out in the second-half probably feeling as low as he can get.

“We had a chat with him at half-time about the goal as you can imagine and he was fantastic and I can't speak highly enough about him.

“That's exactly they type of reaction I was looking for and he was a great example to the rest of the squad.

“It's a great way to bounce back and he showed all the qualities which made us chase him again in the summer.

“We did create chances and so, on the balance of play, to create the chances we did with what was a depleted squad is testament to the players in that dressing room.”

Lennon admitted trepidation when the sloppy goal was conceded.

He said: “The goal came from a free-kick we had in a wide area.

“I wouldn't say it was one of those things — it was a breakdown in communication. You can't legislate for that, no matter how well you prepare the team.

“The players didn't deserve that and you felt, 'is this going to happen again? so it was important to get them in at half-time and settle them down.

“The reaction was everything I wanted from them and we look forward to the next three games.”

Forster found the Stade de la Route de Lorient a “lonely” place to be after being involved in the goal and admitted he should have shouted louder.

“It was completely my fault,” he said.

“It was just a bad mistake and it should never have happened.

“I just need to do better and be a bit louder. I wasn't loud enough.

“Everyone makes mistakes, but you have to put it behind you and move on.

“There isn't a person on the planet who hasn't made a mistake, especially in football. It can be a lonely place, but you have to forget that it ever happened.

“You can't change the past and that is what being a goalkeeper is all about.”

Celtic remain bottom of the pool on goal difference with two points, but only two behind second-placed Atletico Madrid, who lost at Udinese and Lennon insists the Parkhead men are still in with a chance of qualifying.

The former Celtic skipper said: “Udinese won and that puts them in prime position, but it puts us two points behind Atletico with two home games to come.

“What we didn't want to do was leave here out of the running and we are still in the running in a very difficult group so we are delighted to be in that position.

“I thought it was a great game of football.

“To concede a goal in the manner that we did and then perform the way we did throughout the game and create the chances that we did was pleasing and we at least deserved the point.”

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