Hooper makes case for defence

PA Sport
Gary Hooper was full of praise for Celtic's defence in the draw with Benfica

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Gary Hooper was full of praise for Celtic's defence in the draw with Benfica

Gary Hooper believes a solid defence can be the foundation upon which Celtic build on the point earned in their Champions League Group G opener against Benfica at Parkhead on Wednesday night.

The Scottish champions were without Georgios Samaras, Anthony Stokes, Beram Kayal and Joe Ledley, while Hooper had to start on the bench after picking up a knock in the defeat at St Johnstone, before replacing Emilio Izaguirre after the break. Manager Neil Lennon admitted his side lacked a cutting edge but was pleased with their defensive diligence.

Hooper was also impressed with the Celtic rearguard who have kept a clean sheet in four out of five European ties. He said: "I thought we dealt with Benfica really well considering they are a big team. We defended well and if we do that more and try to pick it up in the final third then I think we have a good chance of doing well in the rest of the games."

Thomas Rogne, who came on as a second-half substitute for Mikael Lustig, was pleased enough with Celtic's first group game in four years.

"When you don't win it's important not to lose," said the Norwegian defender.

"I think it was a good performance. We would maybe have liked to test their goalkeeper more but defensively we done well and one point is a lot more than nothing so we should be happy with the performance. It was a good start for us."

Meanwhile, Celtic face a Scottish Football Association charge over an alleged offensive banner among their fans in their pre-season friendly with Norwich.

The SFA issued a notice of complaint alleging four rule breaches over the banner relating to Rangers, which appeared in the Celtic support in the July 24 contest at Parkhead.

The SFA charges allege Celtic have fallen foul of the rules by failing to prevent fans from bringing the banner into the ground and displaying it.

The club are also accused of failing to deal effectively with an instance of unacceptable conduct, "by allowing spectators to retain possession of the banner after it had been initially displayed, which allowed them to display the banner on a second occasion during the above match".

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