European stalemate for Postecoglou’s Celtic
PARIS: Fity four long years have elapsed since Celtic stunned continental aristocrats Inter Milan to become the first British team in history to win the European Cup.
But the Glaswegians will have to dig deep even to reach the Champions League group phase this season after they could only manage a 1-1 stalemate against Denmark’s Midtjylland in Tuesday’s second qualifying round first leg.
If Jock Stein’s 1967 vintage earned the sobriquet the Lisbon Lions ater their stunning triumph new Celts’ coach Ange Postecoglou can for now only dream of reaching such giddy heights ater starting his tenure with a frustrating draw.
The Australian former J-league title winner with Yokohama F. Marinos saw both sides end a gritily competitive encounter with 10 men ater teenage Israeli winger Liel Abada scored a first-half debut goal before a 9,000 crowd at Parkhead.
However, Celtic went a man down before the break when defender Nir Biton picked up a second booking.
The Danes’ winger Anders Dreyer was redcarded for a dive ater the restart before Evander equalised ater 66 minutes with a free kick to leave maters nicely poised for the second leg in Denmark, where under a new UEFA rule away goals will no longer count double.
“It’s a frustrating result,” said former Socceroos coach Postecoglou. “In terms of performance though, I am more than happy with the players,” he told the BBC in saluting “a tremendous effort.”
The winners will face either PSV Eindhoven or Galatasaray, who will face off Wednesday, while the losers will meet Jablonec in the Europa League
Elsewhere, Rapid Vienna edged out Sparta Prague as they batle for the right to face Monaco in the third qualifying round.
Croatia’s Dinamo Zagreb scored a 2-0 home success over Cyprus’ Omonia Nicosia while rank outsiders Lincoln of Gibraltar succumbed to a 2-1 home loss against Romania’s Cluj.
Other Tuesday action saw Moldova’s Sheriff Tiraspol win 1-0 at Armenia’s Alashkert and Hungary’s Ferencvaros see off Lithiania’s Zalgiris Vilnius 2-0.
Red Star Belgrade, European champions in 1991, are in action Wednesday at Kazakh oufit Kairat Almaty while Sweden’s Malmo host Finland’s HJK Helsinki.