Forster to the Rescue as VAR Gives Copenhagen a Helping Hand

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By Celtic_renard on Feb 21, 2020 at 1:28 AM
  1. Celtic_renard News Writer News Writer

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    FORSTER TO THE RESCUE AS VAR GIVES COPENHAGEN A HELPING HAND

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    FC COPENHAGEN 1-1 CELTIC
    20th February 2020


    Celtic secured a valuable 1-1 draw in the first leg of their Europa League round of 32 clash with FC Copenhagen tonight as the Hoops got their first taste of VAR in a game filled with plenty of chances.

    Odsonne Edouard opened the scoring after 14 minutes and Celtic should have been further ahead before the break with Hoops controlling proceedings in the first half.

    It was Copenhagen who dominated the second period however and Dame N’Doye brought the Danish side level before a Jens Stage penalty was saved by Fraser Forster after a Ryan Christie handball had been picked up by VAR.

    Neil Lennon made three changes from Sunday’s 2-1 win at Aberdeen with Jeremie Frimpong, Jonny Hayes and Ryan Christie coming in as the Irishman was forced to move away from his favoured 3-5-2 formation after an injury to Leigh Griffiths prevented the striker from travelling.

    This change didn’t stop the Hoops though as Celtic came flying out of the blocks and should have been in front inside the first 25 seconds as Edouard was played through by Ryan Christie before being denied twice by Copenhagen goalkeeper, Karl-Johan Johnsson.

    Three minutes later, Edouard went close again as Johnsson came out strongly to get a foot on the ball as the Frenchman prodded it towards the goal before Olivier Ntcham saw his follow-up attempt blocked as it sailed towards the net.

    The Celts were dominating the early stages of the game and it wouldn’t be long before they got their reward as Edouard made it third time lucky as he finished off a terrific counter-attack with a delightful chip over the onrushing Johnsson after being set up by James Forrest.

    It was no more than Celtic deserved and Neil Lennon’s men continued to push forward in search of a second as the Copenhagen defence looked shaky whenever the Celts applied any pressure.

    James Forrest was the next to go close as he skipped past his man before cutting inside and firing wide from the edge of the box before a head injury to Cristopher Jullien appeared to kill Celtic’s momentum as chances were few and far between in the following 20 minutes as Celtic coasted towards the break with only Jullien himself coming close with a back-post header which was easily saved.

    It was a different story in the second period however as Copenhagen matched Celtic’s early momentum at the start of the game as they pushed forward in search of an equaliser.

    Celtic looked like a totally different team and it would only be 7 minutes before the goal arrived as Olivier Ntcham was caught on the ball outside the box before a slick pass was threaded through by Rasmus Falk to the waiting Dame N’Doye who calmly curled the ball past Fraser Forster into the net.

    Celtic only had themselves to blame for letting Copenhagen back into a game that could have easily been beyond the Danish side, but they responded well to the goal and should have been back in front soon after.

    James Forrest almost gave Neil Lennon’s men the lead again as his shot was saved before Callum McGregor blazed over the bar from the edge of the area when a pass to the unmarked Odsonne Edouard would have surely seen the Frenchman score his second goal of the game.

    Edouard went close again as a Jonny Hayes cross found him at the front post and only another superb save by the outstanding Johnsson denied the Frenchman as his sliding effort was stopped by the Swede’s dangling foot.

    It wasn’t long though before the pendulum swung back in the favour of Copenhagen and accompanied with it was the moment everyone had been dreading. The arrival of VAR.

    In truth, there was nothing that Ryan Christie could have done as the ball struck his arm in mid-flight as he tried to head the ball away from a corner.

    But as soon as referee Sergei Karasev halted play it was obvious that there was only place the ball was going as the Russian official consulted the pitchside monitor before reversing his decision and giving a spot-kick much to the delight of the fans inside the Parken Stadium.

    With Fraser Forster in goal though, penalties are never a foregone conclusion, and this proved to be the case as the big Englishman produced a superb save to deny Jens Stage keeping out his fourth penalty from seven attempts this season in the process.

    It was a tense end that followed with Celtic going close through James Forrest before a late push from Copenhagen was nullified as the Hoops held on to secure a valuable score draw, the first time they have avoided defeat in Europe after Christmas since 2004 when a David Marshall inspired side battled to a 0-0 draw in Barcelona.

    It could have been so much more for Celtic, but they will return to Glasgow happy with the result and in a confident mood that they can finish the job at Parkhead in a week’s time if only they are more clinical.

    MAN OF THE MATCH
    Fraser Forster


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    There could only be one winner tonight.

    Fraser Forster came to the rescue once again as Celtic were faced with a new foe in the form of VAR.

    The Englishman has now saved more penalties than he’s conceded this season as the great wall continues his outstanding return to Parkhead.

    Forster is the definition of a big-game player and despite having a relatively quiet night apart from the goal and the penalty, he remained composed and ready to be called into action when his team needed him most.

    If Celtic are to go far in the Europa League this season, he will have a big part to play.

    NEXT UP

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    The Champions return to league action on Sunday as Neil Lennon’s men welcome Kilmarnock to Celtic Park as they look to defend their 10-point lead at the top of the Scottish Premiership.

    Alex Dyer’s men were also in action this week although they didn’t fare as well as the Hoops, going down 4-3 at home to Aberdeen after extra time in the Scottish Cup in an end to end game.

    Celtic should be able to welcome back Leigh Griffiths into the side as he returns from a knock that prevented him from making the trip to Denmark while Greg Taylor should also be fit to face the Ayrshire side after missing out.

    Scot Brown could miss out however after going off injured against Copenhagen with a calf strain. The Celtic captain will be assessed over the next few days before a decision is made closer to the game.

    LINEUPS

    FC COPENHAGEN

    21 Johnsson
    2 Varela
    25 Nelsson
    27 R Sigurdsson (Papagiannopoulos 86')
    19 Oviedo (Bengtsson 73')
    16 Biel
    6 Stage
    10 Gonçalves Rodrigues
    33 Falk Jensen
    14 N'Doye
    18 Santos (Kaufmann 73')

    Goals: N'Doye 52.

    Booked: Oviedo.

    CELTIC

    67 Forster
    30 Frimpong (Simunovic 84')
    2 Jullien
    35 Ajer
    15 Hayes
    21 Ntcham (Elyounoussi 60')
    8 Brown (Bitton 73)
    42 McGregor
    17 Christie
    22 Edouard
    49 Forrest

    Goals: Edouard 14.

    Booked: Brown, Bitton, Christie.
     
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