skip to content

Hoops held by Benfica

19 Sep 2012 22:17:28

Hoops held by Benfica

Celtic fought out a goalless draw against Benfica in their Champions League Group G opener at Parkhead.

It was a spirited and determined performance from the Scottish champions but over the course of 90 hard-fought minutes they failed to really trouble the visitors' goal.

Indeed, in terms of chances created, the Portuguese side could perhaps claim to have edged it, with Hoops keeper Fraser Forster forced into a good blocking save from Rodrigo in the first half and another at his near post from Ezequiel Garay after the break.

There were surprises in both side's line-ups. Celtic's new signing Miku was handed his European debut for the Hoops as regular striker Gary Hooper, struggling with a knock sustained in the shock defeat at St Johnstone on Saturday, started on the bench.

It was another electrifying European night in the east end of Glasgow in front of a near capacity crowd. Celtic midfielder Kris Commons, who was supporting Miku, showed his intent with two attempts on goal within the first couple of minutes, the first clearing the bar, the second blocked by a packed red and black defence.

Benfica looked unsettled as the home side chased and harried with the Celtic fans cheering every tackle, corner and throw-in won. When the initial frenzy subsided the Portuguese side came into the game, forcing a couple of corners which came to nothing but signalled their growing confidence.

There was little goalmouth action at either end, though, until after the half-hour mark when Forster rushed from his goal to make a good block from Rodrigo who had raced on to a Perez pass which had opened up the Parkhead defence.

Benfica clearly fancied their chances as the second half unfolded and just after the hour mark, following Pablo Aimar's whipped-in corner from the left, Forster made a good near-post save from Garay's header.

The home side forced several corners in succession but failed to test keeper Artur while at the other end, in the 75th minute, Thomas Rogne had to throw himself to block Gaitan's goal-bound drive. When Celtic broke from the corner, Commons tried to catch Artur out with a long punt from around the halfway line but the Benfica keeper scrambled back to save.

With 10 minutes remaining and Celtic pressing, winger James Forrest went down in the box when challenged by Benfica defender Melgarejo but referee Rizzoli stood firm in the face of vociferous appeals for a penalty, albeit it would perhaps have been soft if given.


PA

Sponsored links