Full-back Lustig gave the Scottish champions the lead at Solitude in the 25th minute when he broke away from the Reds defence at the near post to head in a Kris Commons corner. Six minutes later Greek forward Samaras, who had revealed his aversion for the ground’s artificial pitch before the game, finished off a move involving Forrest and Commons by turning at the edge of the box and driving an unstoppable shot past Reds keeper Conor Devlin. And in a one-sided first-half, watched by almost 5,000 enthusiastic fans who had packed into the tiny ground in north Belfast, Commons also hit the woodwork twice. With nothing to lose, Tommy Breslin’s side rallied in the second half with Stephen Garrett missing a good chance in the 48th minute from close range after Lustig was short with a headed backpass. Anthony Stokes hit the bar for Celtic with a drive before he set up Forrest in the 84th minute to hammer the ball low past Devlin from inside the box to make the return game in Glasgow a formality. Celtic started the game with impressive purpose. Commons hit the bar with a header after two minutes when Forrest stood a cross up for the former Derby and Nottingham Forest player at the back post. The home side, for all their obvious determination in the early stages, could not make much headway. The Hoops were in control and in the 12th minute Samaras headed an Emilio Izaguirre cross over from eight yards. Brown then picked out Commons, who had raced past the Cliftonville defence – but he failed to control the ball and the backtracking Irish rearguard cleared their lines. Reds skipper George McMullan then almost put in his own net from just under the bar, as he cleared a Lustig header. It had promised to be a nervy night for the visitors, who had lost all four of their pre-season games and who had a clutch of players missing for various reasons. However, Neil Lennon’s side, especially in the first 45 minutes, showed the professionalism and purpose which had taken them to the last-16 of the tournament last season. Press Association Goals from Mikael Lustig, Georgios Samaras and James Forrest gave Celtic a comfortable 3-0 win over Cliftonville and ensured there is little chance of an upset when the part-time Irish side travel to Parkhead next week for the second leg of their Champions League second qualifier. However, with the corner, Commons drilled in a cross and Lustig rose to flash a header past Devlin from six yards out. Cliftonville responded and for the first time in the game, a minute later, Hoops keeper Fraser Forster was forced into a save, from Liam Boyce’s low drive. But just after the half-hour mark and in impressive style, Samaras finished off a Celtic attack with a drive from the edge of the box which whistled high past the helpless Devlin. Celtic were clearly in the mood and in the 39th minute Commons twisted and turned at the edge of the box before beating Devlin with a curling shot, only to see it crash off the post. The home fans tried to rally their heroes as they went up the tunnel at the interval and they might have had something to cheer about three minutes after half-time when Garrett pounced on a mistake by Lustig – but his flick from six yards was too feeble to beat Forster. Still, it gave Cliftonville some encouragement and in the 55th minute only a great saving tackle from Ambrose on Joe Gormley prevented the Reds striker getting his shot away from 12 yards, as the Hoops defence looked vulnerable again. On the hour mark Celtic’s defending was again sloppy, requiring stopper Kelvin Wilson to throw himself to block a goalbound drive from former Morton player Marc Smyth. Devlin made a save from Commons’ drive and Stokes sent a shot from the edge of the box spinning back off the bar but much of the tempo had gone out of the visitors’ play – although there was time for Forrest to extend Celtic’s lead.
Spotlight ups matchday commentary reach and capacity for new EPL Season August 21, 2020 Premier League looks to broadcast every behind-closed-door fixture August 28, 2020 Related Articles Share QPR names Football Index as new shirt sponsor August 21, 2020 Share Submit StumbleUpon Football INDEX is the world’s first football stock market, enabling users to buy and sell real money shares in the world’s top footballers.Detailing how the site accumulated 100,000 users across the UK, with a number of single trading days in excess of £1 million, as well as analysing future plans for expansion, Adam Cole, Founder and CEO of Football INDEX spoke to SBC. SBC: Hi Adam, could you reveal more about the appeal of Football INDEX?Adam Cole: The Football INDEX proposition is simple and appealing – build value in your portfolio (capital appreciation), earn dividends (ROI) based on your football knowledge, and ultimately sell at a profit. We are regulated by the UK Gambling Commission and profits are exempt from Capital Gains.With Football INDEX, football ‘traders’ can earn dividends based on their football knowledge and the on-pitch performance and media profile of players in their portfolio. They can build a portfolio of players of their choice and aren’t restricted by selecting from a single team.Powered by Opta data, we have invested over £2.5 million in developing an innovative, proprietary platform and user-friendly app, allowing fans to earn dividends on their football portfolio 365 days a year, with multiple profit opportunities. Since launching in October 2015, the concept has rapidly gained traction. SBC: What is the key target market Football INDEX aims to reach? AC: Football Index fills a vacant space between two massive markets – football sports betting and Fantasy Football – but has advantages over both. Fantasy Football, for example, requires an unflagging weekly commitment and there’s very little financial gain or reward (other than bragging rights).Football betting is the largest sportsbook activity in the UK. However, betting can be brutal and expensive – it is focused heavily on quick ‘event’ outcomes.With Football INDEX, we offer extended entertainment value and intellectual stimulation combined with the thrill of a bet. Our value proposition is unrivalled by any other product on the market. Our users – or ‘football traders’ – are typically smart football fans who find the concept of Football Index more intellectually satisfying and generally more rewarding than regular betting. Football fans in particular those who understand fantasy football and those with a an understanding of markets are a key demographic. Our users are spread across all age groups but are predominantly between the ages of 20 and 45. SBC: Can you outline some of the key factors that dictate whether a player’s value decreases or increases? AC: ‘Performance Dividends’ pay out to traders based on footballers’ on-pitch performance. Traders can buy players they consider ‘on form’ as we use Opta data measures – 40 points for scoring a goal to 1 point for a successful pass and minus 5 points for a yellow card. As well as trading footballers for profit, customers have the chance of multiple ‘wins’ from a single bet. Football INDEX’s daily Buzz Chart is a UK media monitor which determines the trending footballer in the news each day. Any traders holding futures in the trending footballer receives a dividend payout per future held. Payouts are made to the Top Defender (including Goalkeepers), Top Midfielder, Top Forward and Star Footballer, who is the day’s top performing player. ‘Football traders’ only make a loss if they choose to sell at a loss.SBC: With coverage of football continually increasing, how important is it that you provide traders with an expansive database to trade from? Traders can currently buy shares in over 1,000 players from the English Premier League, Spanish La Liga, French Ligue 1, Italian Serie A, German Bundesliga, UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League. We are currently in the process of expanding our product offering to 2,000 tradeable footballers. SBC: As sportsbooks grow by adding new markets and utilising more data, in what ways can football trading evolve to keep players engaged? AC: Longer term we have ambition to provide our service globally (where possible) and indeed our platform may be applied to any sport such as American Football, basketball, baseball, ice hockey, cricket, rugby etc. We continue to invest in our technology and have a roadmap packed with new functionality, much of which is focused on delivering our users more data.SBC: How can football trading satisfy the instant gratification that is wanted by punters? AC: We offer both instant gratification and long term gains. Instead of the ‘bet’ being on a single outcome (e.g. Manchester United vs Watford), with Football INDEX, traders have the possibility of a micro win every day of the year for three years with our daily Buzz Chart which determines the trending footballer in the news each day. We refer to these micro wins as ‘dividends’ and they provide a yield for ‘instrument’.