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Celtic get their Europa League campaign up and running with home victory

Celtic v Ferencvaros – UEFA Europa League – Group G – Celtic Park
(Image credit: Andrew Milligan)

Two second-half goals gave Celtic a  storming 2-0 win over Ferencvaros and the first three points of their Europa League campaign.

After Group G defeats to Real Betis and Bayer Leverkusen, there was some pressure on Ange Postecoglou’s men but Japan international Kyogo Furuhashi came up trumps in the 57th minute when he latched on to a searching pass from Jota and slotted past Denes Dibusz.

The Ferencvaros goalkeeper saved a penalty from Hoops captain Callum McGregor moments later before Balint Vecsei’s own goal in the 81st minute sealed the deserved win to rekindle European ambitions and continue rejuvenation under the new Celtic boss, who enjoyed a third successive win.

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In the unusual afternoon kick-off due to Champions League matches taking place at night and Rangers playing at home on Thursday, amid plans for the upcoming climate change conference in Glasgow, Hoops left-back Adam Montgomery returned to take over from Boli Bolingoli.

Tokmac Nguen, who scored the winner when Ferencvaros beat Celtic 2-1 at Parkhead last year to knock Neil Lennon’s side out of the Champions League qualifiers, was in midfield, backing up striker Ryan Mmaee, brother of defender Samy Mmaee, also a Morocco international.

Ryan Mmaee missed a chance for the Hungarian champions in the opening minutes when he failed to connect properly from a Henry Wingo cross only yards from goal, after the Hoops defence had been sliced open.

The home side’s response was powerful.

Celtic v Ferencvaros – UEFA Europa League – Group G – Celtic Park

Jota, centre, was denied early on (Andrew Milligan/PA)

In the seventh minute a 25-yard drive from McGregor was saved by Dibusz, who then blocked Jota’s angled drive with his foot before tipping a shot from the Portuguese attacker over the bar for a corner which came to nothing, moments later.

In the 24th minute Hoops keeper Joe Hart beat away a powerful shot from Myrto Uzuni but the match dipped before interval, soon after which McGregor again had a low drive saved by Dibusz.

Furuhashi’s goal came from Celtic cleverly working the ball out of defence deep in their left-hand corner.

When Jota sent a raking pass through the centre of the hesitant Ferencvaros defence the popular Celtic Park striker took a touch before sliding a shot past Dibusz.

Celtic v Ferencvaros – UEFA Europa League – Group G – Celtic Park

Kyogo Furuhashi opened the scoring (Andrew Milligan/PA)

Moments later, with Celtic Park celebrations continuing, right-back Anthony Ralston put in a terrific tackle on Ryan Mmaee just yards from goal to prevent a probable equaliser.

There was more drama when Wingo brought down Montgomery in the box but after Danish referee Jakob Kehlet pointed to the spot, Dibusz dived to his left to push McGregor’s spot-kick away to safety.

Liel Abada and Tom Rogic were replaced by Nir Bitton and Georgios Giakoumakis with Liam Scales soon on for Montgomery as Postecoglou looked for fresh legs to see his side to the final whistle.

Celtic v Ferencvaros – UEFA Europa League – Group G – Celtic Park

David Turnbull, second right, appeared to have doubled the lead until UEFA decided the visitors’ Balint Vecsei had the final touch (Andrew Milligan/PA)

Giakoumakis’ spectacular overhead kick cleared the bar before David Turnbull miskicked a Jota pass and slid into a challenge with Vecsei which resulted in the ball spinning into the net. The overwhelming majority of the 50,000-plus crowd cared little about who got the final contact,, although UEFA later decided it was the Ferencvaros player.

There was still time for Turnbull to miss a great chance when he failed to hit the target with only Dibusz to beat, defender Carl Starfelt to put Hart under pressure with a slack backpass and Jota to miss a terrific chance – but Celtic’s Europa League campaign was up and running.

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