What newspapers in France had to say about Celtic's 3-2 victory over Lille

What newspapers in France had to say about Celtic’s 3-2 victory over Lille

Celtic keeper Conor Hazrd makes a save to deny Lille's Isaac Lihadji. Picture: SNS
Celtic keeper Conor Hazrd makes a save to deny Lille's Isaac Lihadji. Picture: SNS

The French press were largely unimpressed with the performance of the visitors to Celtic Park. Le Figaro described it in the strongest terms, saying they were “dominated” by Neil Lennon’s men. Most other publications used terms along the lines of “mediocre” as written in Le Monde.

20 Minutes were the only one to put forward an explanation as to why the away side underperformed so much against a side that had picked up only one point (also against Lille) up until Thursday’s game. They wrote: “If the Losc lost in Scotland, it is in part because of an experimental defense (Bradaric, Djalo, Fonte (then Botman), Niasse) which did not hold up.” Though, as Le Monde put it: “Christophe Galtier had left several usual starters on the bench, including defender Sven Botman, who entered the break, and midfielders Benjamin André and Jonathan Bamba, though the Mastiffs had the weapons to win, but they were too imprecise.”

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It wasn’t all criticism of the away team, though. Les Progres described Celtic as a “team much more inspired than its last place in the group might suggest”, while La Voix Des Sports read: “… against an opponent who had nothing more than his honor to save in the Europa League. But Celtic have pride.”

"Six minutes of madness summarizing a first period played at a very high pace,” was how Le Figaro categorised the three-goal glut which started with Christopher Jullien’s header and finished with Callum McGregor putting the hosts 2-1 up from the penalty spot after Jeremie Frimpong was the “victim of a clumsy tackle from Domagoj Bradaric” (Ouest France).

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La Voix Des Sports characterised the period between Celtic’s second and Lille’s equaliser as thus: “Because the LOSC did not have this accuracy in the transmissions, nor this percussive force to destabilize the Scottish bloc, Galtier’s men didn’t have many chances.”

Galtier’s men would eventually find a way through, though, as ex-Celtic loanee Timothy Weah tied things up. It’s safe to say Le Figaro didn’t give the brightest assessment of his career in Lille so far. It read: “Paradoxically, it was the least prominent Lille who equalised: Timothy Weah, with an unstoppable volley. Ghostly so far, the American scored his first goal with LOSC where he had shone six months on loan in 2019.”

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Four minutes later, “the young Norwegian [Kristoffer Ajer] achieved a real number on the right wing and sent a perfect cross for David Turnbull” (Les Progres) to put Celtic into the lead for good.

All in all, the pre-match favourites didn’t trouble Neil Lennon’s side enough with debutant goalkeeper Conor Hazard described in La Voix Des Sports as having “a rather serene evening”.

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It was left to L’Equipe to lay out the implications of Lille’s defeat: “If thet had secured first place in Group H, LOSC could have been drawn for the round of 16 of the Europa League with opponents like Molde, the Red Star Belgrade, Royal Antwerp, Maccabi Tel Aviv, Wolfsberger or Young Boys. Instead, a completely different pedigree will stand in their way.

"Tottenham, Leverkusen, Naples, Leicester, Villarreal, AS Roma, Arsenal become potential opponents, as well as the top four third-place finishers in the Champions League, including Ajax and Manchester United.”

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