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Euro heartache for Celtic against Cluj at Paradise

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UEFA Champions League
Third Qualifying Round, Second Leg
Celtic Park, Glasgow
Tuesday, August 13, 2019

(Forrest 50, Edouard 61, Christie 74)

(Deac 27, Omrani 72, 80, ?ucudean 90+5)

CFR Cluj win 5-4 on aggregate

CELTIC’S UEFA Champions League qualifying campaign came to an end tonight as the Hoops lost 4-3 to CFR Cluj in Glasgow, with the Romanians progressing to the play-off round 5-4 on aggregate.

Both sides started brightly as they went in search of an early goal and Ryan Christie was the architect of much of Celtic’s early opportunities. His willingness to run at the opposition defence caused Cluj problems and yielded an early chance for Odsonne Edouard inside the box but the Frenchman’s attempt was blocked.

Mikey Johnston highlighted his talents with a solo effort sprung just inside Cluj’s half. The 20-year-old winger drove forward with the ball, holding off a challenge from an opposition player and almost scored a wonderful goal with a right-footed curling effort from 25 yards.

The to-and-fro continued and Cluj dealt Neil Lennon’s side a blow on 27 minutes when they cancelled out Celtic’s away goal. The move was a replica of Cluj’s early chance involving Omrani and Deac. On the second occasion, Deac got on the end of his team-mate's cross with a header which went in off the post.

Ten minutes before the break, Christie drilled a low ball into the near post for Edouard who ran across the six-yard box to get in front of Andrei Burca, but his attempt to steer the ball in went over the crossbar.

Celtic started the second half full of purpose, and both Ajer and Simunovic has headers cleared off the line in the opening minutes.

Having found their rhythm, a goal looked an almost certainty for Neil Lennon’s side and James Forrest drew his side level. Edouard cleverly dummied McGregor’s low cross into the box and Forrest calmly took a touch before firing the ball into the top corner with the outside of his right foot.

Celtic took control of the tie 10 minutes later with a thoroughly deserved second goal. Defenders Burca and Coimbra Aurello failed to deal with Elhamed’s cross, and Edouard punished them with a quick-fire right-footed shot across goal and beyond the keeper.

Bolstered from the two goals, Celtic looked determined moved up a gear and continued to pepper the Romanian goal with chance after chance, but the visitors were given a lifeline with 20 minutes remaining when Scott Brownw as penalised for handling the ball inside the penalty area. Omrani converted from the spot but Celtic reacted with intent and regained the lead two minutes later when Christie knocked in Edouard’s cut-back.

Cluj scored again on 80 minutes. Substitute Constantin Paun’s shot from distance was pushed clear by Scott Bain but Omrani was first to react and darted in to score another equaliser for his side.

Neil Lennon made some late changes in a bid to find the much needed goal. Leigh Griffiths came on for Olivier Ntcham and Bayo replaced Brown. Celtic created more in front in goal, McGregor coming close with a half-volley.

But it was Cluj who completed the scoring seconds before the end via substitute George Tucudean.

CELTIC: Bain; Simunovic, Brown (Bayo 87), Christie, Johnston (Morgan 73), Ntcham (Griffiths 83), Edouard, Elhamed, Ajer, McGregor, Forrest
Subs: Gordon, Jullien, Bitton, Bolingoli

 CFR CLUJ: Arlauskis, Susis, De Souza, Burca, Paulino, Bordeianu, Aurélio (Paun 77), Djokovic, Deac, Omrani (Muresan 83), Rondón
Subs: Sylla, Alexandru, Vatca, Tucudean, Peteleu, Cestor,

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