By Ben Robertson
Celtic kicked off their Europa League campaign last night, with a 1-1 draw against French side Rennes.
After drawing Lazio, Rennes and CFR Cluj, the Celts faced a trip to Rennes on matchday one. Both sides had met during pre-season over the past few years but last night marked the first competitive meeting between the two since 2011.
The Hoops named an unchanged team from the one that faced Hamilton and they started off brightly forcing a couple chances in the first half. The home side, however, got the opener after some schoolboy defending from Kristofer Ajer gifted M’Baye Niang an opportunity from the spot. Which he took.
Celtic responded sharply and had a strong penalty claim denied after Ryan Christie was fouled inside the area. once the second half came around, they didn’t have to wait long for a response. This time it was James Forrest’s turn to go down after a poor swing of the leg by Damien Da Silva.
The top scorer for the champions this season, Ryan Christie, stepped up and made no mistake as he slotted the ball into the right hand corner to put his side on level terms. The rest of the game saw few chances for both sides and the final resulted was a stalemate 1-1.
Speaking after the result was Neil Lennon who said: ” “I thought we were the better team,” Lennon said. “I thought we were the better team first half and I was disappointed with the players coming in a goal down because we had really good control of the game.
“It’s a great start for us but you always want more. After we scored we sort of came off it a little bit but saw the game out quite comfortably. I’m not happy with the sending-off and we should have had another penalty, a clear penalty on Ryan Christie.
It would appear that Lennon was somewhat happy with the result despite believing that they could have got more out of the game.
After a solid away performance I caught up with Greg, a Celtic fan who made the Journey to Rennes and was at the game last night. Speaking about the result he said: ” When you go away with Celtic you always feel pretty confident, but with Rennes being second in Ligue 1 we thought there was chance but we weren’t overly confident.”
“I think we deserved a point from the game. I thought we could have went on to win the game to be honest. At times we were all over them and I think we definitely could have gotten all three but still happy with a point.”
Celtic are now unbeaten in their last five European away matches, something that can go a long way in terms of the group stage campaign. Greg went on to discuss how he feels the rest of the campaign will go.
” I Think well probably fish second In the group. With Lazio losing to Cluj last night as well we might be able to get more point’s off them ( Lazio) than we thought, I reckon we’ll get 10 or 11 points and finish second.”