Lille 2-2 Celtic: Lennon´s side throw away two-goal lead


Mohamed Elyounoussi’s first-half double was not enough for Celtic as they squandered a two-goal lead to draw 2-2 with Lille in Thursday’s Europa League Group H clash at Stade Pierre-Mauroy.

Celtic attacker Elyounoussi went some way to easing the growing pressure on boss Neil Lennon with his brace in the space of four minutes against the in-form hosts, who are now unbeaten in 10 games this season.

Scott Bain kept out Jonathan David’s penalty and Sven Botman hit the crossbar before the interval in what was looking like being a frustrating day for Lille.

But a first victory away at French opposition in nine attempts since 1966 ultimately eluded Lennon’s men as Zeki Celik and Jonathan Ikone struck in the second half to snatch a point for the Ligue 1 club.

A solid comeback from 2-0 down and our unbeaten run this season continues. Well done, lads #LOSCCEL #UEL pic.twitter.com/a63NmzAbLm

— LOSC Lille EN (@LOSC_EN) October 29, 2020

Elyounoussi pulled the strings for Celtic from the early stages, setting up Albian Ajeti for a goal that was disallowed for offside and another chance that his team-mate skied over.

But the Norway international took matters into his own hands by firing the visitors ahead with a fine curling effort from 25 yards that left Mike Maignan stranded.

The finish for Elyounoussi’s second was just as crisp as he guided a first-time shot away from Maignan into the bottom-left corner after being spotted by Jeremie Frimpong.

David was denied by Bain from the penalty spot after being felled by Shane Duffy and Botman clipped the top of the crossbar with a shot as Lille pushed for a way back into the game.

And they were given a lifeline through unmarked Celik’s finish at the back post, the full-back bundling the ball past Bain after a corner was flicked into his path.

Celtic were under siege and a second goal followed eight minutes later as Yusuf Yazici’s mishit shot fell kindly for Ikone to spin and fire past Bain, ensuring the points were shared.

What does it mean? Opportunity missed for Lennon

Lennon argued in the week that there would be “no justification” to sacking him on the back of defeats to Rangers and Milan, followed by a 3-3 draw at Aberdeen.

His side were on course for a morale-boosting victory that would have put them level on points with their opponents, but they failed to hold on and are down in third, with Milan – 3-0 winners against Sparta Prague – taking control of Group H.

Celtic can have few complaints on the basis of the whole 90 minutes, with Lille seeing 71 per cent of the ball and managing 21 shots, 13 of those coming in a dominant second half.

Elyounoussi takes control

Lennon got his tactics spot on in the first half as he looked to expose space in the wide areas – something Elyounoussi, Ryan Christie and both full-backs took full advantage of.

Elyounoussi was easily the game’s best player out on the left, scoring from two of his five shots and also playing one key pass, but his side dropped off too much after the interval. 

Yazici fires a blank

Having failed to score for Lille in any of his six Champions League appearances last season, Yazici kicked off this year’s Europa League campaign with a hat-trick against Sparta Prague on matchday one.

He only managed one shot on target against Celtic, but created an unrivalled six chances for his team-mates and indirectly set up Ikone’s equaliser with his miscued shot.

Key Opta Facts

– Lille are winless in their last 13 European matches (including qualifiers) on home soil (D6 L7) since a 2-0 victory over FC Copenhagen in August 2012.

– Away from home in the Europa League, Celtic have only managed to win two of their 23 matches (D11 L10).

– Celtic have lost just one of their last 11 away matches in all European competition (W6 D4), going unbeaten in the last four such games.

– Lille have failed to keep a clean sheet in European competition in each of their last 13 matches, since a 0-0 draw with Everton in October 2014.

What’s next?

Lille play host to Lyon on their return to Ligue 1 action on Sunday, the same day that Celtic take on Aberdeen in the Scottish Cup semi-finals.





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