Celtic breathed life into their Europa League campaign with a deserved 2-0 victory over Ferencvaros at Parkhead on Tuesday afternoon.
Having suffered defeats in their opening two Group G games, Celtic could ill-afford another setback if their hopes of progressing through to the knockout phase were to be realised.
After a goalless first half, summer signing Kyogo Furuhashi continued his sensational start to life in Glasgow by slotting Celtic into a 57th-minute lead with his ninth goal for the club.
Captain Callum McGregor should have wrapped up the victory from the penalty spot five minutes later, only for goalkeeper Denes Dibusz to keep Ferencvaros in the game, but the visitors' hopes were extinguished nine minutes from time when David Turnbull bundled in Celtic's second.
Celtic's first Europa League victory of the season gets three priceless points on the board in Group G, and the dominant performance will fill Ange Postecoglou's side with confidence they can repeat the feat when the two sides meet in Hungary on November 4.
Celtic: Hart (8), Ralston (6), Carter-Vickers (7), Starfelt (5), Montgomery (5), McGregor (6), Turnbull (7), Abada (6), Rogic (6), Jota (8), Furuhashi (8).
Subs: Scales (5), Bitton (5), Giakoumakis (6), Johnston (6).
Ferencvaros: Dibusz (7), Wingo (5), Blazic (5), S. Mmaee (5), Civic (6), Laidouni (5), Vecsei (4), Uzuni (6), Nguen (4), Zachariassen (3), R. Mmaee (5).
Subs: Loncar (6), Mak (6), Somalia (6).
Man of the Match: Jota
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Celtic up and running in Europa League
In the unusual afternoon kick-off due to Champions League matches taking place at night and Rangers playing at home on Thursday, Ryan Mmaee missed a chance for the Hungarian champions in the opening minutes when he failed to connect properly from a Henry Wingo cross only yards from goal, after the Hoops defence had been sliced open.
Celtic's response was powerful. In the seventh minute a 25-yard drive from McGregor was saved by Dibusz, who then blocked Jota's angled drive with his foot before tipping a shot from the Portuguese attacker over the bar for a corner which came to nothing, moments later.
- Celtic made one change from Saturday's 2-0 win at Motherwell as Adam Montgomery returned from injury in place of Boli Bolingoli.
In the 24th minute Hoops keeper Joe Hart beat away a powerful shot from Myrto Uzuni but the match dipped before the interval, soon after which McGregor again had a low drive saved by Dibusz.
Furuhashi's goal came from Celtic cleverly working the ball out of defence deep in their left-hand corner. When Jota sent a raking pass through the centre of the hesitant Ferencvaros defence the popular Celtic Park striker took a touch before sliding a shot past Dibusz.
Moments later, with Celtic Park celebrations continuing, right-back Anthony Ralston put in a terrific tackle on Ryan Mmaee just yards from goal to prevent a probable equaliser.
There was more drama when Wingo brought down Montgomery in the box but after Danish referee Jakob Kehlet pointed to the spot, Dibusz dived to his left to push McGregor's spot-kick away to safety.
Liel Abada and Tom Rogic were replaced by Nir Bitton and Georgios Giakoumakis with Liam Scales soon on for Montgomery as Postecoglou looked for fresh legs to see his side to the final whistle.
Giakoumakis' spectacular overhead kick cleared the bar before Turnbull miskicked a Jota pass and then as he slid into a challenge it looked like the ball bounced off his knee and spun into the net, not that the overwhelming majority of the 50,000-plus crowd cared much.
There was still time for Turnbull to miss a great chance when he failed to hit the target with only Dibusz to beat, defender Carl Starfelt to put Hart under pressure with a slack backpass and Jota to miss a terrific chance - but Celtic's Europa League campaign was up and running.
- Celtic have won six of their eight matches at home to Hungarian opponents in all European competitions (D1 L1), keeping a clean sheet in four of their last five such games.
- Including qualifying matches, Ferencvaros have now lost each of their last six matches in European competition, extending what was already their longest run of defeats in Europe.
- Celtic have ended a run of 14 UEFA Europa League matches without a clean sheet, recording one for the first time since October 2019 at home to CFR Cluj. They had conceded 36 goals across their last 14 matches in the competition.
- Since his first full breakout season for Manchester City back in 2010-11, only four other Englishmen have appeared in more European matches (UEFA Europa League/UEFA Champions League) than Celtic goalkeeper Joe Hart (59, excluding qualifiers - James Milner, Raheem Sterling, Chris Smalling and Kyle Walker).
What the manager said…
Celtic manager Ange Postecoglou: "It was a really good performance, we started well, put them under pressure and took control of the game. We created some good chances, didn't allow them too many and, in the second half, it opened up for us.
"It was a brilliant first goal and we should have had a few more afterwards. I'm pleased for the players; they got the reward for being really disciplined. It was great to see."
Man of the Match - Jota
Celtic forward Jota has had the highest number of shots of any player in the UEFA Europa League this season (12), though the Portuguese is still awaiting his first goal in the competition.
Celtic host St. Johnstone in the Scottish Premiership on Saturday at 3pm, while Ferencvaros host MTK Budapest in the Hungarian League on Sunday at 5pm.
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