A passionate Celtic performance halted Manchester City’s 100% start to the season after a 3-3 UEFA Champions League draw at Celtic Park.
Two goals from Moussa Dembele and an own goal by Raheem Sterling had Celtic in front on three separate occasions, but each time, City hit back quickly.
Fernandinho, Sterling and Nolito all scored for Pep Guardiola’s side to make it level, but they couldn’t grab a winner at a lively Celtic Park.
Celtic made the perfect start as they took the lead after just three minutes under controversial circumstances. Scott Sinclair’s deep free-kick was volleyed back across goal by James Forrest and headed towards goal by Erik Sviatchenko. The centre-back’s effort hit the frame of Dembele and hurtled into the net to a massive roar from the home fans. City won’t be pleased as the striker was offside when Sviatchenko headed the ball but Celtic didn’t care.
They nearly doubled their lead three minutes later as City failed to defend from set-pieces. It was Mikael Lustig who got on the end of Sinclair’s free-kick and he nodded it on for the ex-City defender Kolo Toure. The Ivorian spun nicely and rifled a volley at goal from ten yards, but Claudio Bravo made a smart save to tip it around the post.
Despite City being behind for the first time under Guardiola, they showed great character to recover and were level just eight minutes after the Celtic goal. Aleksander Kolarov’s scuffed shot fell through to Fernandinho and the Brazilian showed no fear as he tidily tucked the ball away into the bottom corner from ten yards.
Celtic still looked confident and the atmosphere inside the stadium seemed to be driving the Hoops forward. Tom Rogic’s sent a low free-kick whistling wide of Bravo’s far post after Sinclair’s great run was abruptly stopped by Kolarov’s clumsy foul. Up the other end, Nolito tested Craig Gordon after coming inside onto his right foot, but his strike was straight at the goalkeeper who made a comfortable save.
With the game in the balance, a defensive mistake gave the Scottish side the chance to go back in front after 20 minutes. Fernandinho missed his interception which allowed Rogic to pick the right pass wide for Kieran Tierney to come forward. The left-back’s low cross was deflected by the desperate block by Sterling, but unfortunately for the England winger, it sent the ball past his own goalkeeper from a tight angle and the own goal was awarded to his name.
For the second time in the game, City managed to hit back eight minutes after going behind. Dembele sold his pass to Scott Brown short and David Silva pounced before playing in Sterling and the former Liverpool man punished his former boss Brendan Rodgers with a composed turn and finish from ten yards. City deserved great praise for coming back once again.
City could have taken the lead with two minutes left in the first half. Sterling spun nicely on the edge of the box and laid it back for Ilkay Gundogan to strike at goal, but the summer signing from Borussia Dortmund curled his shot wide from 20 yards. The miss proved crucial as Celtic were the team celebrating again just two minutes into the second half.
Tierney’s cross should have been cleared by Kolarov who missed his clearance completely and Dembele took advantage with a superb bicycle kick that wrong-footed Bravo on its way into the bottom corner. It was a superb goal but Guardiola will be furious about the inability to clear Tierney’s simple cross.
Once again, the Premier League side set about the task of getting back level in the game. Nolito tried to catch Gordon out at the near post from ten yards, but the former Sunderland shot-stopper was ready to catch the ball into his grasp. Just after, Gundogan’s low free-kick was pushed away by the goalkeeper as City started to dominate the tempo.
The pressure paid off as they grabbed their third equaliser of the game in the 55th minute. Sergio Aguero played a nice one-two with David Silva on the edge of the box and unleashed a powerful shot from ten yards that Gordon did well to block. Fortunately for City, the rebound fell for Nolito who eagerly wrapped the ball in to make it 3-3.
In the end, City failed to grab a winner and with that, Celtic stopped them from being the first English side to win their first 11 games of the season since Bill Nicholson’s Tottenham Hotspur side did it on their way to a double in 1960.
Match Report by Kyle Dixon (@kyledixon95)