Belfast Telegraph

Home Sport Football

Bhoys into the Europa League despite more agony

Celtic 0 Anderlecht 1

By Ronnie Esplin

Celtic will be playing European football after Christmas despite a 1-0 Champions League defeat by Anderlecht at Parkhead.

The Hoops' 3-0 win in Brussels on matchday two meant the visitors had to equal or better that result in the final Group B game to leapfrog the Scottish champions into a Europa League spot.

Brendan Rodgers' side endured an uncomfortable first half bossed by the visitors and went behind through a Jozo Simunovic own goal in the 62nd minute but managed to avoid further mishap to remain in third place.

After failing to win any group stage games in his first season in charge, Rodgers, yet to taste defeat by a Scottish club in 67 clashes, achieved the required progress at the second attempt, albeit suffering defeats home and away to Paris St Germain and Bayern Munich and in the final fixture against Anderlecht.

Celtic go into the draw for the last 32 of the Europa League which takes place in February, a spot which the Glasgow club would have taken before the group stages began.

As expected, Rodgers brought back French striker Moussa Dembele after he had recovered from an ankle knock with Simunovic, Callum McGregor, Stuart Armstrong and James Forrest making it five changes in total.

Skipper Scott Brown made his 69th appearance in the Champions League, beating the record for a Scottish player held by former Celtic and Liverpool striker Kenny Dalglish.

Anderlecht boss Hein Vanhaezebrouck had conceded the odds were heavily stacked against his side but they almost got one goal back in the third minute, Hoops keeper Craig Gordon forced into a fine save from midfielder Sven Kums, who blasted in a cut-back from Henry Onyekuru.

In the 17th minute Adrien Trebel's acrobatic effort from 16 yards had Gordon working again with the Anderlecht midfielder testing the Scotland keeper a second time with a long-range effort just before the half-hour mark.

The interval allowed Rodgers time to make adjustments, which he did by replacing Armstrong with Olivier Ntcham and Scott Sinclair for Tom Rogic.

Belief seemed to seep slowly out of Anderlecht.

A curling shot from Celtic winger Forrest in the 55th minute was pushed past the post by keeper Frank Boeckx.

The Parkhead fans began to find their voice but it was the 2,000-plus Anderlecht supporters who cheered loud and long when a cross from the right by full-back Dennis Appiah came off the back of Simunovic, under pressure from Pieter Gerkens, and past Gordon.

The Hoops defender came close to cancelling out his own goal when he fired just over.

In the 74th minute Dembele limped off to be replaced by fellow Frenchman Odsonne Edouard.

The final stages were more about not conceding and there were sighs of relief among the green and white when Gordon parried a drive from Anderlecht captain Sofiane Hanni.

Celtic: Gordon, Lustig, Simunovic, Boyata, Tierney, McGregor, Brown, Forrest, Armstrong (Ntcham 45), Sinclair (Rogic 45), Dembele (Edouard 74).

Subs not used: Bitton, Griffiths, De Vries, Ajer.

Anderlecht: Boeckx, Appiah (Bruno 89), Kara Mbodji (Gonçalves Leal Sá 75), Spajic, Obradovic, Dendoncker, Kums, Trebel, Gerkens (Teodorczyk 78), Hanni, Onyekuru.

Subs not used: Sels, Deschacht, Beric, Harbaoui.

Man of the match: Hanni

Match rating: 6/10

Referee: Matej Jug (Slovenia)

Belfast Telegraph

Daily News Headlines Newsletter

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox.

Popular

From Belfast Telegraph