Asharq Al-awsat English Middle-east and International News and Opinion from Asharq Al-awsat Newspaper

Europa League: Celtic Blow Two-Goal Lead While Morelos Wins It for Rangers

Europa League: Celtic Blow Two-Goal Lead While Morelos Wins It for Rangers

Friday, 30 October, 2020 - 08:45
Jonathan Ikoné (left) completed Lille’s second-half comeback against Celtic to equalise 15 minutes from time. Photograph: Denis Charlet/AFP/Getty Images

Celtic let slip a two-goal interval lead to draw 2-2 with Lille in their thrilling Europa League Group H encounter at the Stade Pierre Mauroy.

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

Scott Bain, preferred to Vasilis Barkas, saved a Jonathan David penalty five minutes before the interval and it looked like it was going to be Celtic’s night before Lille came back to dominate the second half.

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

The Parkhead side’s first goal in 28 minutes came after the Lille full-back Zeki Celik lost possession. Albian 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 the referee Aleksandar Stavrev pointed to the spot after a challenge by Shane Duffy on David but the unconvincing spot-kick was blocked by Bain.

After Kristoffer Ajer went off injured in the 51st minute, Celtic wobbled and conceded when Yusuf Yazici’s corner from the left was flicked on by Adama Soumaoro, with the unmarked Celik prodding the ball in at the back post.

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

In Group D, Alfredo Morelos equalled Ally McCoist’s European goalscoring record for Rangers as the second-half substitute nodded in the only goal against Lech Poznan at Ibrox. The Colombia striker powerfully met a wonderful Borna Barisic cross in the 68th minute to take his European tally for Rangers to 21 goals.

Morelos had come off the bench six minutes earlier and quickly enhanced Rangers’ threat with the aggression they had been lacking.

The goal was enough to earn Steven Gerrard’s side an eighth straight win in all competitions and put them in a commanding position alongside Benfica in their group with both sides having six points from two matches.

In Group H’s other game, Milan eased to victory at home against Sparta Prague, with Diogo Dalot, on loan from Manchester United, adding the third in a 3-0 win which also saw goals for Brahim Díaz and Rafael Leão.

The Austrian side Wolfsberg enjoyed an away day at Feyenoord in Group K, with the midfielder Michael Liendl scoring three of his side’s goals in a 4-1 victory, including two penalties. There was another hat-trick in Group J, for Ludogorets’ Elvis Manu … who finished on the losing side as Lask held on for a 4-3 home victory despite playing the last 17 minutes with 10 men after Lukas Grgic’s dismissal.

Editor Picks