Celtic hope for trou­ble free Lin­field visit

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -

Celtic will hope the fo­cus is solely on foot­ball when the Scot­tish cham­pi­ons host Lin­field in the re­turn leg of their Cham­pi­ons League sec­ond round qual­i­fier to­day. The Hoops have one foot in the next round fol­low­ing a 2-0 vic­tory over the North­ern Ire­land ti­tle hold­ers at Wind­sor Park thanks to first-half goals from Scott Sin­clair and Aus­tralian in­ter­na­tional Tom Rogic. How­ever, the first leg in Belfast was marred by nasty scenes with the Lin­field fans - who are drawn from North­ern Ire­land’s Protes­tant com­mu­nity - giv­ing a hos­tile re­cep­tion to Celtic, who are his­tor­i­cally seen as a Catholic side.

Their un­ruly be­hav­iour dur­ing and af­ter the game has led to UEFA charg­ing David Healy’s side for ob­jects be­ing thrown from the crowd and a field in­va­sion by sup­port­ers.

The Glasgow giants - who had a small pocket of sup­port­ers in the sta­dium af­ter the club re­fused its of­fi­cial al­lo­ca­tion - are also the sub­ject of dis­ci­plinary ac­tion with Europe’s gov­ern­ing body charg­ing them with im­proper con­duct af­ter they picked up more than five book­ings. One of the play­ers booked was Celtic striker Leigh Grif­fiths, who was the tar­get of the home sup­port on a num­ber of oc­ca­sions. The Scot­land in­ter­na­tional was forced to re­move ob­jects from the field in­clud­ing coins and a bot­tle as he pre­pared to take a sec­ond half cor­ner kick, earn­ing him­self a yel­low card for time-wast­ing from Span­ish ref­eree Ale­jan­dro Her­nan­dez - a book­ing de­scribed as bizarre by Celtic’s North­ern Ir­ish man­ager Bren­dan Rodgers.

Grif­fiths then sparked crowd dis­or­der at the end of the game when he tied a Celtic scarf to a goal-post, with riot po­lice de­ployed to stop a pitch in­va­sion and the striker sub­se­quently charged by UEFA for pro­vok­ing spec­ta­tors. Those scenes have led to Po­lice Scot­land is­su­ing a state­ment urg­ing fans to fo­cus on the foot­ball as ex­tra of­fi­cers are drafted in to deal with the an­tic­i­pated 1500 Lin­field sup­port­ers who are mak­ing the trip to Glasgow. De­spite the off-field is­sues, Celtic will be pleased to have reg­is­tered a win in Belfast as they avoided a re­peat of the em­bar­rass­ment of the 1-0 de­feat they suf­fered against Gi­bral­tar min­nows Lin­coln Red Imps at the same stage of the com­pe­ti­tion last sea­son.

The Hoops will now be keen to put on a show for their sup­port­ers as they at­tempt to seal their spot in the third round where they could face ei­ther Rosen­borg or Ir­ish cham­pi­ons Dun­dalk.

Ir­ish winger Jonny Hayes knows Celtic who fin­ished last sea­son un­beaten do­mes­ti­cally - will be over­whelm­ing favourites to take a step closer to the lu­cra­tive group stages but in­sists they will be fully fo­cused on fin­ish­ing the job against Lin­field. “Lin­field will have to come and play and look for a goal or two so hope­fully it might make for a more ex­cit­ing game,” the sum­mer sign­ing from Aberdeen said. “We would maybe have liked an­other goal, but credit to Lin­field they sat in and were well or­gan­ised but we were def­i­nitely the hap­pier side to have come away with a 2-0 win.” —AFP

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Kuwait

© PressReader. All rights reserved.