Celtic brush aside Linfield at a rainy and quiet Windsor Park

Scottish champions netted early twice to put to bed Linfield hopes

Celtic fans gesture to Linfield fans after their team broke the deadlock. Photo: Liam McBurney/PA Wire

Celtic fans gesture to Linfield fans after their team broke the deadlock. Photo: Liam McBurney/PA Wire

 

Linfield 0 Celtic 2

It was a familiar-looking Hoops side which began their European journey, fresh from a domestic treble last season when they went unbeaten in Scotland.

New signing Republic of Ireland winger Jonny Hayes started on the bench as stopper Erik Sviatchenko replaced the injured Dedryck Boyata.

Linfield, managed by former Rangers striker David Healy, had the experienced ex-Gers keeper Roy Carroll in goal and his contribution was notable.

The 39-year-old had to make a save from a Stuart Armstrong drive in the first minute as the visitors took immediate control.

The Northern Irish champions were happy to concede possession and defend deep in their own half, which made it difficult for the Hoops, but they got the breakthrough following a Leigh Griffiths corner from the left.

Defender Jozo Simunovic got his head on to it, but the ball drifted wide to winger James Forrest, who lobbed it back into the six-yard box, where Sinclair nodded it past Carroll at no great pace.

Rogic’s goal also came from a Griffiths corner, this time a low drive which the Australia international smartly dispatched from eight yards out.

The home side had to come out of their blue shell and Mark Haughey got on the end of Chris Casement’s cross from the right, but the defender slashed the ball over from 10 yards.

As driving rain took over from earlier sunshine, Carroll twice denied Sinclair with fine saves before Mikael Lustig rolled a shot past the far post from eight yards when he ought to have hit the target.

Griffiths had the ball in the net seconds after the restart only for the assistant’s flag to rule it out before Linfield defender Matthew Clarke was carried from the field on a stretcher and replaced by Jordan Stewart after he blocked a Forrest effort inside the home side’s penalty area.

In the 64th minute there was some controversy, not to say bemusement, when Spanish referee Alejandro Hernandez booked Griffiths for presumably taking too long to take a corner, his task made difficult by the series of objects being thrown at him by Linfield fans.

The Scotland striker was soon withdrawn by Rodgers, with Moussa Dembele coming on, with Hayes replacing Forrest to make his debut and he too had missiles launched at him when took over corner-kick duties.

In an increasingly scrappy match Rogic missed the target with a drive and Carroll thwarted further attempts from Armstrong, Dembele and Lustig, twice, as Celtic retained their grip until the end.

Rodgers’ first game in charge of the Hoops last summer saw an embarrassing 1-0 defeat to minnows Lincoln Red Imps in Gibraltar before they recovered in the second-leg, eventually making the group stages.

This time, the passage through to the third qualifier is all but guaranteed, while Uefa are certain to address the off-field behaviour.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
GO BACK
Error Image
The account details entered are not currently associated with an Irish Times subscription. Please subscribe to sign in to comment.
Comment Sign In

Forgot password?
The Irish Times Logo
Thank you
You should receive instructions for resetting your password. When you have reset your password, you can Sign In.
The Irish Times Logo
Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.
Screen Name Selection

Hello

Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
Forgot Password
Please enter your email address so we can send you a link to reset your password.

Sign In

Your Comments
We reserve the right to remove any content at any time from this Community, including without limitation if it violates the Community Standards. We ask that you report content that you in good faith believe violates the above rules by clicking the Flag link next to the offending comment or by filling out this form. New comments are only accepted for 3 days from the date of publication.