Europa League - Ledley header earns Celtic draw

Thu, 20 Oct 20:54:00 2011

Celtic kept alive their Europa League qualifying hopes with a battling 1-1 draw against French side Rennes at Stade de la Route de Lorient.

Joe Ledley of Celtic celebrates after scoring during his Europa League Group I soccer match against Stade Rennes at the Route de Lorient stadium in Rennes - 0

Midfielder Joe Ledley popped up on 70 minutes to nod Charlie Mulgrew's free-kick into the net for a point Celtic probably deserved having carved out the better chances in the match only to be undone by Cha Du-Ri's horrific own goal in the first period.

Celtic were looking comfortable when they somehow managed to concede a goal on 31 minutes that illustrated the defensive problems that have blighted Neil Lennon's side since the start of the season.

There appeared no danger when home goalkeeper Benoit Costil hammered a clearance down the pitch from a poor Ki Sung-Yueng free-kick, but Cha tried to play the ball back to keeper Fraser Forster.

Forster had come too far off his line as the ball rolled beyond him at the edge of the box for a goal that the home players and fans could scarcely believe.

Celtic should have gone ahead when Anthony Stokes - playing as lone striker - broke free in the area, but put too much height on a shot from 12 yards out as Costil tipped the effort over the bar.

Rennes are unbeaten in nine European home games and have conceded just three times n their last seven UEFA home fixtures against Club Atlético Madrid, FC Twente and now Celtic, this draw may feel like a win to a visiting side who remain with only one in their previous 32 outings away from home in Europe.

With Glenn Loovens preferred to Daniel Majstorovic at the heart of the visiting defence, Celtic rode their luck but did enough going forward to hint at better times ahead coming on the back of a 2-0 loss at Hearts and a 3-3 draw with Kilmarnock in the Scottish Premier League.

Rennes enjoyed plenty of energy in their attacking moments, but did not create too much of note throughout the evening until the final 20 minutes when substitutes Abdoulrazak Boukhari, Jires Ekoko and Jonathan Pitroipa were wheeled on.

Keeper Forster also made some fine saves as he denied Chris Mavinga, Youssouf Hadji and Pitropia with both teams committed to attack.

But Celtic also had chances to add to their tally with Costil making saves from Cha and Stokes in the second period while Ki should probably have netted when he knocked over the bar with the home goal gaping from the edge of the box as Celtic pushed for the leveller.

Udinese top Group I after 1-0 win over Atletico Madrid with the Spanish side second on four points. Celtic and Rennes have two points ahead of the return clash at Celtic Park on November 3.

Eurosport

Not already a Yahoo! user ? to get a free Yahoo! Account