David Turnbull starred for Celtic when they beat Lille 3-2 to record their first home win since September and conclude a disappointing Europa League campaign on top.
Turnbull took home the winner after 75 minutes to cap off an impressive performance in his first European outing for Celtic, after a gripping evening in which the good, the bad and the ugly of Neil Lennon’s team were shown equally.
Celtic deservedly led at halftime thanks to a header from Christopher Jullien (21) and a penalty from Callum McGregor (28), interspersing a draw by Jonathan Ikone (24).
Former Celtic loan player Timothy Weah dragged Lille down once more (71) in the second half after another defensive error by Shane Duffy, but Turnbull’s fresh finish with a cross from Kris Ajer secured a first stage win. of groups for Celtic, although they finished at the bottom of the table. .
Celtic: Hazard (7), Duffy (7), Jullien (8), Ajer (8), Frimpong (6), McGregor (7), Soro (8), Turnbull (9), Laxalt (7), Elyounoussi (7), Climate (7).
Subs: Ajeti (6), Rogic (6), Henderson (8), Welsh (6).
Little: Maignan (7), Niasse (6), Fonte (5), Djalo (6), Bradaric (6), Ikone (7), Soumare (6), Xeka (6), Weah (7), David (6), Yazici (7).
Subs: Botman (6), Bamba (6), Lihadji (6), Andre (6), Mandava (6).
Man of the match: David Turnbull.
Celtic recovery begins
There was little more than pride at stake for the Celtic players, but for Neil Lennon this was an opportunity to plant some seeds of recovery in his team’s form after a horrendous two-win streak in 12 games. With a crucial league game to come against Kilmarnock on Sunday, where a The protest of the fans is expected before the game., this result may appease your critics a bit.
Lennon has trimmed a contentious figure in recent weeks amid vociferous outrage from supporters as Celtic’s performances have collapsed. Having received public endorsement from the club’s board twice in a week, and with his job seemingly secure until at least the New Year, the manager took the opportunity to announce the changes.
Twenty-two-year-old Northern Irish goalkeeper Conor Hazard made his debut, and there was a first start for Ivorian midfielder Ismaila Soro, who joined the club in January. The much-criticized Duffy came back on defense, while Turnbull made his second start since signing from Motherwell.
Celtic’s lineup, highly scrutinized during the recent run of poor results, attracted attention from the start; Ajer was on the right back behind Jeremie Frimpong in midfield right, in what looked like a 4-1-4-1 system, but as the half progressed, the Norwegian often fell on three defenders alongside Duffy and Jullien.
There was an alarming incident at first when Frimpong crashed headlong into the billboards on the touchline as it cleared, but surprisingly was on his feet after a minute or so appearing to be unharmed.
Lille had the first clear chance of a free kick in the 17th minute, after Jullien’s foul on the former Celtic Weah loan. Yusuf Yazici’s shot went over the wall, but not fast enough to cause trouble for Hazard. Celtic broke the field in numbers and Turnbull’s heel found Patryk Klimala, but his fierce shot was parried by Lille goalkeeper Mike Maignan.
Moments later, Celtic took the lead. Turnbull’s corner found Jullien unmarked, and his move had enough power to beat Ikone at the far post. It was a positive start for a desperately lacking in confidence, but shortly thereafter Lille was level thanks to a terrible mistake by McGregor.
The captain missed a pass attempt back to Hazard, giving Yazici possession, who ran into the area. His cut found Ikone reaching the near post unmarked, who hit him home, to make it an eighth straight game without a clean sheet for Celtic.
Goalkeeper Conor Hazard got off to a surprise start for Celtic when Neil Lennon made wholesale changes to his lineup to face Lille.
The Parkhead coach rotated his team for their final game of the Europa League group stage as it gave their fringe players much needed playing time. Ismaila Soro, David Turnbull and Patryk Klimala started.
The advantage was regained three minutes later, thanks to the insistence of Klimala, who showed the sharpness to steal Xeka. He then threw it onto the Frimpong road, whose feet were removed by Domagoj Bradaric in the box in the act of shooting; it was enough to force the young Dutchman to leave the field, replacing him with Ewan Henderson.
McGregor stepped forward and atoned for his earlier mistake when he shot the penalty low to Maignan, a third goal in seven breathless minutes. Neither team seemed to be in control; they were both happy to counter the other, and both defenses appeared fragile.
The good thing about this scenario was that Turnbull had a chance to prosper. Barely seen since his £ 2.75 million summer move from Fir Park, he was instrumental in every attacking move, but made the wrong decision just before halftime when he took the field and chose to shoot, rather than play Klimala.
Lille flew to Celtic early in the second half with renewed energy, as they tried to salvage a result that would see them top the group ahead of AC Milan. Yazici’s shot was deflected by a desperate tackle from Soro; Ikone then danced towards the box, but Jullien did enough to avoid danger. McGregor’s backhand play almost took another turn, as his attempted blocking of Cheikh Niasse’s center deflected the ball to the foot of the post, but was then thrown out of the game.
After weathering this mini-storm, Celtic advanced with renewed vigor and created a great opportunity to extend their lead. Ajer cut in and slid a beautiful ball towards Turnbull on the swing, who suddenly had only Maignan to beat, but his shot was deflected and twisted past the post. More goals seemed likely, and two more quickly followed, one at each end.
Duffy, who seemed relatively cool after his recent struggles, was booked for a harmless challenge over Isaac Lihadji on the left touchline. He then failed to fully deflect the free kick that followed, and Weah, lurking on the edge of the penalty area, volleyed home against his former club.
Without bowing, Celtic lunged forward again. Turnbull found Ajer on the right, who dodged a couple of tackles and then returned the ball to the area where Turnbull swept home his first Celtic goal, much to the delight of his coach who hit the air on the touchline.
Lennon could afford to smile, after a series of difficult results; the challenge for his team now is to consistently produce results and performances like this.
Lennon hails ‘talented’ Turnbull
Celtic chief Neil Lennon saying BT sport: “It’s a great victory and a good way to finish off a disappointing group. We probably deserved better outside the group, but it’s a great way to end.
“There was a lot of good energy and we scored three goals at home. It was a competitive match, so it was worth it. [David Turnbull] it was excellent.
“He’s had a coronavirus that has kept him out for quite some time, so it’s been a matter of being careful with him. He did very well when he arrived last Sunday and had an exceptional game tonight. We know what a talented player he is.
“I am delighted by the team and the squad. The result will give everyone a big boost. There are many bonuses tonight. Soro, Klimala and Henderson had good games ”.
Analysis: a result Lennon relies on
Andy Walker de Sky Sports:
“Neil Lennon will look at the team he picked… he made six changes, and everyone was wondering how they would fare. David Turnbull and Ismaila Soro will undoubtedly have more playing time now. It has been a poor campaign but this was a very impressive victory and it is something Lennon can build on.
“The only thing that will reassure the fans will be getting closer to Rangers in the Scottish Premiership. Now they need to start winning league games, starting on Sunday against Kilmarnock. “
Hoops end the race winless – Opta stats
- Celtic ended an eight-match UEFA Europa League winless streak (two draws and six losses), recording their first win since defeating Rennes in November 2019.
- This was Lille’s first UEFA Europa League defeat of the season, with their last two losses in the competition in the group stage MD6, also losing in 2014/15 to Wolfsburg.
- Celtic have conceded in their last 12 UEFA Europa League games, conceding 28 goals since the last time they kept a clean sheet in the competition.
- Jonathan Ikoné has been directly involved in six goals in eight appearances for Lille in major UEFA European competitions (4 goals, 2 assists).
Celtic host Kilmarnock in Scottish Premiership on Sunday; start 3pm. The Europa League returns in February with the round of 32.
The draw will take place at noon on Monday, December 14 in Nyon, after the Champions League round of 16 draw. You can follow it through Sky Sports ‘ platforms. For all information about the knockout stages Click here.