December 7, 2021

Edouard sends Celtic to EL group stage

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Odsonne Edouard scored a priceless second-half goal as Celtic reached the Europa League group stage with a 1-0 win over Sarajevo.

The Scottish champions dominated the one-legged play-off tie in Bosnia and Herzegovina without really testing home goalkeeper Vladan Kovacevic in the first half.

But Edouard, in for the injured Albian Ajeti, pounced from close range in the 69th minute to send Neil Lennon’s side deservedly through to Friday’s draw.

The Hoops had to ride an early setback when defender Nir Bitton failed to shrug off the effects of a foul by Aleksandar Pejovic and was replaced by Israel team-mate Hatem Elhamed.

Celtic kept stride and moved the ball around the pitch well for long spells but in the 13th minute, in one of Sarajevo’s rare breaks, Parkhead keeper Vasilis Barkas was forced to push an angled drive from Benjamin Tatar around his near post.

The hosts were well organised defensively but Celtic did create an opportunity five minutes before the break when Edouard set up Mohamed Elyounoussi, only for his shot from 16 yards to be comfortably saved by Kovacevic.

Seconds from the interval, as Sarajevo countered with pace again, former West Ham winger Matthias Fanimo had a fresh air swipe on the angle from 12 yards.

Sarajevo continued to frustrate after the break as Celtic kept pressing.

In the 52nd minute Celtic defender Kristoffer Ajer stabbed a Ryan Christie corner past from six yards and then Elyounoussi’s drive from 20 yards was saved by Kovacevic

Celtic, with wing-backs Jeremie Frimpong and Greg Taylor providing width, kept pushing but there always seemed to be a block or tackle from the men in maroon.

A long-range effort from Christie in the 63rd minute just cleared the bar and Elhamed volleyed wide from a Christie corner.

Sarajevo could hardly get out of their own half and eventually the Celtic breakthrough came with Edouard pouncing from eight yards when Kovacevic fumbled a drive from Christie.

Christie fancied his chances and stung the palms of Kovacevic with another powerful drive but one goal proved enough as a late rally from Sarajevo came to nothing.

What’s next?

Celtic travel to St. Johnstone in the Scottish Premiership on Sunday at 12pm – live on Sky Sports Football.