Molde qualify with victory at struggling Celtic
Thursday, November 5, 2015
Celtic 1-2 Molde
Ole Gunnar Solksjær's team marched into the knockout rounds with a win at Celtic that also strengthened their position at the top of Group A.
Article top media content
- Molde extend Group A lead and secure place in knockout stage
- Mohamed Elyounoussi and Daniel Hestad on target for Norwegian champions
- Midfielder Hestad, 40, becomes oldest player score in UEFA Europa League
- Celtic remain at foot of Group A on two points with two matches left
- Next games: Molde v Fenerbahçe, Celtic v Ajax (26 November)
Group A leaders Molde clinched qualification with a 2-1 victory in Glasgow which leaves bottom-placed Celtic with an uphill challenge to join the Norwegian club in the UEFA Europa League knockout rounds.
Mohamed Elyounoussi gave Ole Gunnar Solksjær's side an early lead which was cancelled out by Kris Commons before visiting captain Daniel Hestad restored the advantage – earning the 40-year-old the added distinction of becoming the oldest scorer in the UEFA Europa League.
The Scottish title holders were forced to make an early change when Jozo Šimunović, a pre-match injury doubt, was forced off with an ankle problem. His replacement Tyler Blackett's first serious involvement led to the opening goal, the on-loan Manchester United defender heading away a cross only as far as Elyounoussi who expertly drilled the ball low past Craig Gordon.
The response by Ronny Deila's team was swift. Five minutes later Kieran Tierney's centre from the left was cleared by Vegard Forren as far as Nir Bitton and while the Israeli's shot was on target, Commons stuck out a foot to divert it beyond Ethan Horvath. Both sides were now conceding possession too easily and the visitors went back in front eight minutes from the break when Hestad prodded home Elyounoussi's cross.
Celtic thought they had equalised on the hour from Mikael Lustig's downward header only to be denied by Horvath and from the ensuing corner the goalkeeper blocked Bitton's goalbound effort. It would prove to be the latter's last meaningful contribution as Bitton was ordered off for a professional foul on substitute Ola Kamara to complete Celtic's night of misery.
Šimunivić's ninth-minute withdrawal seemed to unsettle Celtic and the uneasiness among the home rearguard was not helped when his replacement Blackett could only clear the danger as far as Elyounoussi who promptly despatched it past Gordon.
Defying the years
Molde skipper Helstad has been inspirational throughout this campaign and the 40-year-old chalked up another landmark with the second and decisive goal, making him this competition's most veteran marksman.