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Celtic 2 Fenerbahce 2: Super-sub Fernandao seals comeback

Brazilian striker Fernandao had a significant impact off the bench, scoring both goals as Fenerbahce came from two down to earn a 2-2 draw at Celtic in the Europa League on Thursday.

The Scottish Champions had Celtic Park rocking as two goals inside four first-half minutes looked to have put them on course for three points that would have put them in a strong position in Group A.

Goals from Leigh Griffiths and Kris Commons gave Celtic the lead, but the contest swung on two defensive errors that were capitalised on by Fernandao, who only came on as a substitute after 40 minutes.

The striker pounced on Efe Ambrose’s poor defensive header to grab the first shortly before half time, setting nerves jangling around Celtic Park.

And just after the break he levelled the contest by beating Ambrose to a header and burying it past Craig Gordon.

Celtic, who have drawn both their games, will now need a win at Molde to get their European campaign back on track, while it was a commendable point for Fener, who were stunned 3-1 at home by the Norwegian side last time out.

In the deafening atmosphere of the opening minutes, Celtic carved an opening when Mikael Lustig’s cross found James Forrest on the edge of the box and his low shot was not far wide of Fabiano’s near post.

Raul Mereiles, one of a handful of former Premier League players in the Fener side, endured a tough first half, picking up a booking for a tug on Forrest’s shirt moments before he was felled by the shoulder of Scott Brown and had to receive treatment before Celtic took the lead.

A corner was headed across goal by the unmarked Lustig, and Griffiths was on hand at the far post to smash the ball high into the net at the second attempt after Fabiano saved his initial strike.

Just four minutes later, Forrest burst down the left and crossed to Commons, who got in between Simon Kjaer and Bruno Alves to strike a sweet left-foot shot into the top corner.

But disaster struck for Celtic two minutes before half time when Ambrose’s weak header back towards his own goal presented a chance to Fernandao, who had no difficulty in beating Gordon with a simple finish.

Almost immediately after half time, Fernandao got the better of Ambrose again when he easily out-jumped him at the near post to head Nani’s left-wing corner into the net.

Having conceded the lead, Celtic then found themselves under pressure as a buoyant Fener pressed for a winner.

Hasan Kaldirim had a shot deflected wide before Nani, who had been quiet in the first half, burst into life and tested Gordon twice with long-range efforts.

Diego forced Gordon to save with his legs as Fenerbahce continued to press, but Celtic did rally in the final 20 minutes, and Commons’ swerving hit from 30 yards would have been a worthy winning goal had Fabiano not been equal to it.

Lustig also went close as Celtic looked the more likely side to grab a winner late on, but in the end the points were shared.

Thu 1 Oct, 2015
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