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Celts bow out of UWCL with another narrow defeat

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By Colette Carr

Celtic bowed out of their first ever Champions League campaign after another narrow defeat in Norway, losing out 3-2 to seven-time Belarus champions Minsk.

A blinding run from Izzy Atkinson on the counter set up Rachel Donaldson who equalised for the Celts before half time, before Caitlin Hayes made it two in two for the defender in the last minute of extra-time as the Celts leave Norway with their heads held high after a historic debut.

Having pushed Levante all the way in the group’s first match, Celtic started a little slower than usual and the Celts went down after 18 minutes as Selma Kapetanovic sliced an effort from just inside the corner of the area past Chloe Craig and Chloe Logan into the far corner.

The Celts had chances in the next ten to draw it level as Sarah Teegarden tried to combine with Charlie Wellings in the middle before Craig’s cross for Hayes was headed just off target.

But the equaliser would come after an explosive counter attack from the Hoops starting inside their own box. Minsk’s free-kick was headed away by Craig before Atkinson demonstrated incredible pace and control to charge up from the edge of her own box to Minsk’s to square it for Donaldson to knock in first time with less than ten to play before the break.

Celtic had the better of the chances in the opening fifteen of the second half with Maria Olafsdottir Gros, Teegarden and Donaldson all finding opportunities to pull Celtic ahead. On the 74th minute Atkinson's free-kick was hooked down by Jodie Bartle for Wellings, who turned and shot but the keeper denied, before the Celts managed to evade a late goal from Minsk, with the runner unable to connect from mere yards out.

Entering extra-time the Hoops found themselves trailing within the first minute. A long ball over the top allowed Armisa Kuc to break through the middle and blast a shot from the edge of the area into the top corner. Five later, Hayes' shot was just tipped over for a corner, but nobody managed to put away Olafsdottis Gros' cross and it was 2-1 heading into the last 15.

On the 110th minute, Kuc scored again for the Belarussians, again latching onto the long ball and taking it past the onrushing Logan to place it into the back of the net.

Celtic still continued to create the best of the opportunities though and were close to taking the game all the way to penalties when Hayes nodded in a brilliant Olafsdottir Gros cross with less than a minute remaining, but it wasn’t to be for the Hoops against the vastly experienced opposition.


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