Mowbray laments late lapses after Celtic wilt

Hapoel Tel Aviv 2 Celtic 1
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The Independent Online

The Celtic manager, Tony Mowbray, refused to make excuses for his side's late capitulation in their Europa League opener in Tel Aviv yesterday.

The visitors led at half-time thanks to Georgios Samaras's goal and were still in front going into the final 15 minutes. But they conceded twice late on to Nemanja Vucicevic and substitute Maaran Lala as their Group C campaign got off to a losing start.

Mowbray expressed concern in the build-up over the humidity in Israel but said afterwards: "We played against a decent side tonight and you could feel they were building up momentum, probably at a time where it was the most draining period of the game for our team. But, no excuses, ultimately over 90 minutes they probably deserved their victory."

Mowbray's decision to bring back Samaras in place of Scott McDonald was perhaps a surprising one but the Greece international produced an impressive first-half performance in which he gave the visitors the lead on 25 minutes. Samaras controlled a through ball by Gary Caldwell with his chest and sped clear of the Hapoel rearguard before sending a left-foot drive past keeper Vincent Enyeama.

The home side did step up their game after half-time and after 75 minutes levelled through Vucicevic. Yeboah made his way to the byline before pulling the ball back to the Serbian playmaker, who struck the ball high past Artur Boruc. It got worse for the visitors with two minutes to go when Vermouth cut back for Lala to score.

Hapoel Tel-Aviv Enyeama; Kende, Badir, Douglas, Ben Dayan, Yadin, Natcho (Zahvi, 68), Vucicevic (Merey, 80), Vermouth, Yeboah, Menteshashvili (Lala, 54). Substitutes not used: Abharbanel, Gordana, Huta, Doani.

Celtic Boruc; Hinkel, McManus, Loovens, Daniel Fox, N'Guemo (McGinn, 66), Caldwell (McDonald, 90), Brown, Maloney, Samaras (Killen, 70), McGeady. Substitutes not used: Zaluska, Naylor, Crosas, McCourt.

Referee: P Allaerts (Belgium).

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