Football

Celtic beaten in Israel

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Celtic surrendered a comfortable interval lead to lose 2-1 to Hapoel Tel Aviv and end up pointless in their Europa League Group C opener in the Bloomfield stadium.

Georgios Samaras' 25th minute strike had put the Hoops ahead and they looked in control as the second half unfolded.

However, with 15 minutes remaining Hapoel playmaker Nemanja Vucicevic slammed in the equaliser before substitute Maaran Lala grabbed the 88th minute winner.

Hapoel might have taken the lead with less than a minute played when left-back Dedi Ben Dayan's cross to the back post found Bebars Natcho. The midfielder found enough height to reach the ball but from barely six yards out he cleared Artur Boruc's crossbar.

In the 12th minute, with Celtic settling into the game, Samaras rose highest inside a packed six-yard box to power a Shaun Maloney corner goalwards, only to see Hapoel keeper Vincent Enyeama help the ball on to the bar with his fingertips.

The home side survived the brief moment of panic before coming close again themselves seconds later. Natcho sent Vucicevic racing down the right and the midfielder cut inside Daniel Fox before driving a left-footed shot in from 16 yards which Boruc did well to block with his feet.

The complexion of the game, though, changed more markedly in the 25th minute when the visitors took the lead through their lively Greek striker.

In text-book fashion, he controlled a through-ball by Gary Caldwell with his chest and took himself clear of the static Hapoel rearguard before dispatching a left-footed drive from 16 yards past Enyeama.

But in the 75th minute, and out of the blue, the home side levelled through Vucicevic. Samuel Yeboah, who moments earlier had headed over the bar from close range, made his way to the by-line before cutting the ball back in the area and with the visitors' defence in disarray, the Serbian playmaker blasted high past Boruc.

The Parkhead men were reeling and they met with disaster with two minutes remaining when Gil Vermouth cut the ball back for Lala to knock in from close range, completing Celtic's misery.

Copyright (c) PA Sport 2009, All Rights Reserved.

Topics:
Europa League
Shaun Maloney
Daniel Fox
Football
Gary Caldwell
Queens Park Rangers
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