Maribor vs Celtic Champions League match report: Hoops build on European reprieve to keep Slovenians at bay
Maribor 1 Celtic 1: Qualifying tie in the balance after first leg
stadion ljudski vrt
Wednesday 20 August 2014
Celtic appear to have taken advantage of their European reprieve after gaining a well-deserved draw against Maribor in the first leg of their Champions League play-off in Slovenia.
Legia Warsaw had hammered the Scottish champions 6-1 on aggregate in the third qualifier but were effectively dumped out of the competition by Uefa for bringing on a player who should have been suspended in the second leg at Murrayfield, which left Ronny Deila’s side facing the Slovenian champions.
Callum McGregor shot the visitors into the lead in the sixth minute, only to see his fourth goal in seven games cancelled out by Damjan Bohar.
Celtic captain Charlie Mulgrew and defender Virgil van Dijk came close before the interval as the Scottish champions showed a marked improvement on their Legia performances.
Maribor came out with more purpose at the start of the second half in the Ljudski vrt stadium but the Hoops held firm and indeed Stefan Johansen passed up a great chance to win the game when he stumbled when he was right through – but nevertheless they are in the box seat going into the second leg at Celtic Park next Tuesday.
Deila relegated last season’s top scorer Kris Commons to the bench, replacing him with Beram Kayal, while right-back Mikael Lustig came in for Efe Ambrose, who joined up with the squad late after it was originally believed he was suspended for the game.
There was an element of risk in Deila picking 19-year-old Belgian defender Jason Denayer, who made his debut for the club against Dundee United on Saturday after signing on loan from Manchester City – but they got off to a great start when McGregor opened the scoring.
Midfielder Johansen’s raking pass picked out Jo Inge Berget on the left and when he got his shot in at the second attempt, Maribor goalkeeper Jasmin Handanovic could only palm the ball to McGregor – who slammed in his third European away goal this season.
Maribor looked shaky in the following minutes but their lifeline came when Zeljko Filipovic split the Celtic defence out wide, allowing Bohar to ignore a foul on Maribor captain Tavares and go through to slip the ball past goalkeeper Craig Gordon.
Mulgrew almost restored Celtic’s lead in the 21st minute when he got his head on to a Johansen corner. but Filipovic cleared to safety.
The home side could have gone in front four minutes before the break when Gordon parried a long-distance drive from Agim Ibraimi into the air – but Dare Vrsic volleyed high over the bar.
Stokes had the ball in the Maribor net early in the second half but even he knew it was from an offside position, before Tavares fired a yard over the bar from the edge of the box after being set up by Vrsic, the first sign that the home side had raised the tempo.
Celtic looked happy to contain the Slovenian champions but Gordon had to make a fine save in the 59th minute from Ibraimi’s powerful header, after Emilio Izaguirre needlessly conceded possession.
There was a Hoops penalty claim soon afterwards when Stokes’ header from a McGregor cross appeared to strike the hand of Maribor defender Aleksander Rajcevic, but the Czech referee Pavel Kralovec was unimpressed.
As the home side loosened their grip on the game, Stokes twice shot wide, the second time just inches past the post – but Johansen should have scored when he was sent clean through on goal by Kayal but he lost control of the ball, allowing Handanovic to gather.
With seven minutes remaining Gordon had another impressive save from Ibraimi before surviving a late burst of pressure from the home side.
Maribor Handanovic, Stojanovic, Rajcevic, Suler, Viler, Vrsic (Mendy, 72), Filipovic, Dervisevic (Mertelj, 81), Bohar (Sallalich, 79), Tavares, Ibraimi. Substitutes not used Cotman, Mejac, Zahovic, Arghus.
Celtic Gordon, Lustig, Denayer, van Dijk, Izaguirre, Johansen,Mulgrew, McGregor, Kayal (Biton, 87), Berget (Ambrose, 73), Stokes (Griffiths, 80). Substitutes not used Zaluska, Commons, Pukki, Henderson.
Referee Pavel Kralovec (Czech Republic).
Latest in Sport
Bath vs Saracens Premiership Final match preview: What time does it start and where can I watch it?
Hector Bellerin: How saying no to Barcelona paid off for Bellerin - and Arsenal
Paul Scholes column: With Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards
Fifa corruption live: Sepp Blatter tries to shift attention to Uefa and says he expects more from US investigators
David Gill rejects Fifa vice-president role after Sepp Blatter wins election because of the 'terribly damaging events' under his reign
- 1 Engineer pictured fixing plane's engine with 'duct tape' by concerned EasyJet passenger
- 2 Two-year-old says goodbye to bin man best friend
- 4 There is something wrong but very right about this Bible illustration
- 5 Remove smartphones from the hands of under-18s and maybe they will grow up to be less dumb
EU referendum: David Cameron's rules are a 'democratic disgrace', says French-born Scottish politician set to be denied a vote
Migrants in Kos: Photos show real tragedy after Brits abroad complain of 'awkward' holidays
British tourists complain that impoverished boat migrants are making holidays 'awkward' in Kos
A nation of inequality: How the UK is failing to feed its most vulnerable people
Australian man punched in the face for defending Muslim women from abuse on train
David Starkey 'tells Amal Clooney to shut up and stop over-promoting human rights'