CELTIC 1 FC MIDTJYLLAND 1
NEW season, same old story.
A goalkeeper who can’t make a save, a makeshift defender who can’t tackle and Celtic facing an uphill struggle in Europe.
It’s just like watching an x-certificate replay of last season with Ange Postecoglou’s compettitive debut ending in a stalemate with the Champions League second round qualifier return due in Denmark a week tomorrow.
At one stage, though, it looked so promising when new Bhoy Liel Abada fired the Hoops into the lead in the 39th minute. The good work was undone, though, only five minutes later in a moment of utter madness by Nir Bitton.
SEEING RED…Nir Bitton is banished after a moment of madness as Callum McGregor watches the ref take action.
The Israeli international who should never have been allowed to play in defence after past misdemeanours, stupidly got himself banished following a skirmish with the Danish side’s Anders Dreyer who had clearly dived in the hope of conning the Swiss referee into awarding a penalty-kick.
Bitton, who had already been booked, remonstrated with the opponent and then clearly pushed him in the face. That was all Dreyer needed to act theatrically and for the match offical to flash a red card under the Celt’s nose.
His idiotic actions meant the end of the contest for the impressive Abada who had to be withdrawn for Dane Murray to make his competitive debut alongside Stephen Welsh in central defence.
To compound the error, TV pictures showed the FC Midtjylland forward was about two yards offside when he raced onto a through ball in the first place before he even got anywhere near the penalty area.
HOOP HOOP HOORAY…Liel Abada fires in his first goal for Celtic.
UP IN ARMS…Liel Abada celebrates putting the Hoops in front.
Celtic, though, were still holding onto Abada’s strike until Vasilis Barkas took centre stage to remind us all why the club desperately need a new goalkeeper.
The £4.5million Greek convinced no-one last time out and he demonstrated yet again why he cannot be trusted in the 66th minute when Evander thumped in the leveller via a direct deadball effort from a tight angle on the left.
Welsh rashly gave a away a cheap free-kick and the danger signals were flashing when the Brazilian stepped up to hit a shot straight at goal. Amazingly, Barkas appeared to have it covered before pulling his hands away to allow the effort safe passage into the back of his net.
It was yet another mesmerising piece of goalkeeping from a netminder who appears incapable of dealing with any threat to his goal.
OOPS…Vasilis Barkas blunders as Evander (No.10) fires a free-kick straight into the net.
BLANK LOOKS…Vasilis Barkas gets that familiar sinking feeling.
However, this could have been an entirely different baptism for Postecoglou with Celtic playing some neat football at times with new captain Callum McGregor busy, Ismaila Soro looking confident and Ryan Christie sparking in a manner that was rarely witnessed last season.
It was Christie who came so close to opening the scoring in the 37th minute when he struck the post from close range after a good build-up on the right concerning David Turnbull and Abada.
Moments later, he tried his luck again with a determined header from a clever ball in from the Israeli winger, but his effort sailed just wide.
Then came the breakthrough goal when Christie cut in from the left to send a vicious arcing left-footer towards the top corner, but keeper Jonas Lossi threw himself acrobatically to his left to push the ball away.
Abada showed lightning reflexes to pounce before the defence could move and struck the rebound into the gaping net.
CLAP HANDS…Ange Postecoglou applauds Liel Abada’s goal, but that was as good as it got for the new Celtic boss.
And then Bitton’s nonsensical actions saw manager Postecoglou being forced to withdraw him to put on another defender. His fellow-Israeli had been injured with a head knock earlier in the game and had to go off for a few minutes for treatment. In hindsight, it would have been better if he had stayed off.
Ironically, Dreyer, who had flopped so obviously in the original coming-together and earned himself a booking while doing so, attempted another piece of simulation 11 minutes after the interval when Welsh shadowed him. That earned him a second yellow card to join Bitton on the sidelines.
A minute later, McGregor walloped a 20-yard right-foot shot off the top of the crossbar with the keeper helpless.
On the hour mark, old favourite Erik Sviatchenko blocked a rasping drive from Turnbull and, a mere 60 seconds later, Odsonne Edouard should have done a lot better after being released in the box from a perfect pass from Christie. Alas, the Frenchman’s finishing was in the powderpuff class and Lossi was invited to make the save when he should have been left helpless.
The much-wanted frontman was replaced by Albian Ajeti in the 77th minute, but the Swiss international made little impression. At the same time, om Rogic came on for Turnbull and, at least, put himself about.
As the Hoops went for a second goal to make the return leg a little more comfortable, Barkas was culpable again as he allowed the visitors to equalise.
Now the Parkhead men are on the Euro tightrope again.
Welcome to Paradise, Ange Postecoglou!
TEAM: Barkas; Ralston, Welsh, Bitton, Taylor; Christie, Soro, Turnbull (sub: Rogic 77), McGregor; Abada (sub: Murray 44), Edouard (sub: Ajeti 77).