Celtic 2-3 Sparta Prague: Czechs see off Hoops

Leigh Griffiths fired Celtic into an early lead but they went down 3-2 to Sparta Prague. File picture: Robert Perry
Leigh Griffiths fired Celtic into an early lead but they went down 3-2 to Sparta Prague. File picture: Robert Perry
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CELTIC suffered a 3-2 defeat to Sparta Prague yesterday as they rounded off their winter training camp in Gran Canaria.

Celtic - 2

Griffiths (1), Thomson 73)

Sparta Prague - 3

Matejovsky (24), Krejci (30), Dockal (45)

Leigh Griffiths put a youthful Celtic side ahead inside the first minute. But the Scottish champions were pegged back when former Reading midfielder Marek Matejovsky rifled Sparta level after 24 minutes, and then Ladislav Krejci put the Czechs in charge.

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Jason Denayer – back in the Celtic line-up after eight weeks out with a foot injury – then gave away a penalty just before half-time. Borek Dockal slotted away the spot-kick and, despite seeing under-17s captain Joe Thomson pull a goal back midway through the second half, Ronny Deila’s men failed to rally in the final stages.

Celtic, who postponed last weekend’s SPFL Premiership fixture with St Johnstone to fly out to the Canaries, now return to league action on Saturday when they travel to Hamilton.

Looking to bounce back from Saturday’s defeat by PSV Eindhoven, Celtic got off to the perfect start yesterday.

They took the lead after around 25 seconds following clever link-up play between Beram Kayal and Aleksandar Tonev. Kayal turned his man neatly and played a through ball to the speedy Griffiths, who clipped the ball beyond Marek Stech in the Sparta goal.

Deila made seven changes to the side that lost 1-0 to PSV, and they found themselves pegged back midway through the first half when Matejovsky fired an effort from 20 yards that caught out Lukasz Zaluska.

Sparta took the lead when Matejovsky played a simple ball over the top that found Krejci in acres of space and he slotted into the net. And they went 3-1 ahead just before half-time when Dockal converted a penalty that had been awarded following a Denayer handball.

Celtic introduced Nir Bitton and Efe Ambrose in the second half, while Paul McMullan impressed in attack. It was his fellow youngster, Thomson, who reduced the deficit when he cut in from the right flank and fired home a left-foot strike from outside the area.

Celtic: Zaluska; Fisher (Izaguirre 85), Denayer (Ambrose 45), O’Connell, Waters; Kayal (Bitton 45), Lindsay; Tonev (McMullan 51), Henderson (Thomson 63), McGregor; Griffiths (Scepovic 62). Subs: Fasan, Nesbitt.

Sparta Prague: Stech; Brabec, Kaderabek, Holek, Matejovsky (Svejdik 43), Podany, Krejci (Picault 45), Prikryl, Maracek, Dockal (Schick 60), Konate. Subs: Vorel, Janos, Miskovic, Vacek.

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