CELTIC once again snatched a draw from the jaws of victory in the Europa league at Parkhead tonight.
Ronny Deila’s team have been in front three times in the two games against Ajax a fortnight ago and this evening against Fenerbahce.
Unfortunately, on both occasions they have seen a possible six points shrink to only two in Group A where Molde lead on four points after their 1-1 home draw against Ajax.
The Hoops didn’t help their case when, at 2-0 ahead, Efe Ambrose made a dreadful error to present the Turks with a goal just before the interval.
And the Nigerian defender was culpable when the curse of the corner-kick struck once more at the equaliser when he allowed Fernandao to get in front of him to glance in the equaliser.
And yet it had looked so different when Kris Commons blasted in the second in the 32nd minute.
The breakthrough goal came in the 28th minute after the Hoops had made a series of subtle promptings without unduly worrying Brazilian keeper Fabiano.
Stefan Johansen had an opportunity six minutes earlier after a cleverly-worked corner-kick, but the Norwegian blazed a left-footer over the bar from the edge of the box.
However,they had better luck after another excellent deadball effort when Commons swung over an inviting effort from the right.
Mikael Lustig’s timing was superb as he ran into a vacant space left by the defenders who were zonal marking. The Swede glanced the ball to the left and Leigh Griffiths was unmarked as he hammered a close-in shot at goal.
Fabiano heroically dived to block the attempt, but the rebound went straight back to the international frontman and, demonstrating some incredible acrobatic skills, Griffiths leapt and volleyed a left-foot scorcher into the roof of the net.
Four minutes later, Celtic Park was engulfed in joyous bedlam as Deila’s outfit doubled their advantage with a wonderful goal.
James Forrest, looking lively on the left touchline, latched onto a pass and produced some marvellous skills to leave former Manchester United star Nani in his slipstream.
He took the ball towards the bye-line before zipping over a cross and Commons met the ball first-time to ram a first-time drive high into the net past the helpless Fabiano.
The Turks were on the ropes and Celtic looked in the mood to put the tie to bed as they continued to go forward.
However, only two minutes from the interval, a howler from Ambrose invited Fenerbahce back into the contest.
The Nigerian’s timing was all wrong as he tried to head the ball back to keeper Craig Gordon. He was unchallenged, but got under the ball, mistimed his leap and merely directed a sloppy header into the tracks of substitute Fernandao.
The Braziian accepted the gift and merely prodded the ball under the unprotected Gordon to his left and suddenly Celtic’s hard work was undone.
Three minutes after the turnaround, it was all-square and once again the rearguard proved it was struggling to deal with corner-kicks.
Malmo put them out of the Champions League with three of their four goals coming from set-plays. The Turks must have done their homework as they made Celtic pay again with some awful marking.
Nani swung in a cross that allowed Fernandao to run in front of the flat-footed Ambrose at the near post and flash a header past the helpless Gordon.
The game had turned so swiftly in the moments just before and after the break.
Fenerbahce sensed they might get more as they controlled the tie for the next 10 minutes or so with Deila’s team struggling to stem the tide.
In the 51st minute, Raul Morieiles split Ambrose and Dedryck Boyata after picking up a Celtic throw-in on the left.
Gordon left his line far too early as the Brazilian nipped in between the central defenders, but he rushed his shot and the ball sailed wide of the post with the keeper in no man’s land.
Johansen was then booked for his second successive Euro game after a silly foul on Robin van Persie. The free-kick came to nothing.
Just before the hour mark, Nani tried his luck from long range and Gordon looked slow to react before he dived to his right to scramble the ball for a corner-kick.
And, only moments later, the Celtic keeper contrived to keep out a 25-yard effort from Diego with his knees as the ball dipped and swerved in flight.
Forrest was also yellow-carded for a challenge on Diego with the Turks now displaying an eagerness to hit the ground any time an opponent was in the vicinity. Unfortunately, referee Kenn Hansen was buying into the theatrics of the visitors.
In the 66th minute, the match official had no option but to book Bruno Alves for a sly kick on skipper Scott Brown.
Four minutes later, Commons lit up Parkhead with a marvellous swivel and shot from 25 yards that was beaten away by the surprised Fabiano.
Next to go into the referee’s black book was Boyata after disagreeing with another strange call from the referee.
Deila threw on Tom Rogic and Tyler Blackett for the tiring Keiron Tierney and Johansen in the 82nd minute in the search for a winner.
The nearest they came to taking three points was a Lustig cross in from the right which was flashed over the bar by Commons.
Celtic now travel to Norway to take on Molde on October 22 in the next game. We can only hope they have learned a thing or two in the matches against Ajax and Fenerbahce.
Mainly it would be good if they demonstrated they now know how to hold onto a lead in a crucial European encounter.
TEAM: Gordon; Lustig, Boyata, Ambrose, Tierney (sub: Blackett 82); Brown, Bitton; Johansen (sub: Rogic 82), Commons, Forrest (sub: Armstrong 89); Griffiths.