FC Copenhagen 1-1 Celtic
Fraser Forster saved a late penalty as Celtic almost grabbed defeat from the jaws of victory in Denmark.
The Hoops were dominant in the first half and deservedly led via Odsonne Edouard’s goal on 14 minutes but they were pegged back early in the second as Dame N’Doye scored.
In the end, it was Celtic holding out for a stalemate despite enjoying a host of excellent chances.
The Scottish champions roared out of the blocks and could have been ahead inside 30 seconds, with Edouard denied one-on-one by Karl-Johan Johnsson.
The French forward will have felt he might have done better, before also being denied in the follow up.
Edouard was through again on three minutes, this time foiled by the feet of the alert Johnsson. At the other end Kristoffer Ajer had to race back and cover as N’Doye threatened.
After that hectic start, the game settled down and it was Neil Lennon’s side that controlled the first 45 minutes.
They made their breakthrough just before the quarter-hour mark, Ryan Christie and Callum McGregor combined to find Edouard and he came out on top this time in his duel with the Copenhagen goalkeeper, lifting the ball beyond him into the corner.
Incredibly, the goal was Celtic’s first away goal in a European knockout tie since Henrik Larsson’s goal in Boavista in 2003 that sent Martin O’Neill’s side into the UEFA Cup Final.
Despite Celtic’s superiority, Bryan Oviedo almost curled in a leveller on 31 minutes, his shot just evading the post.
At the other end Jeremie Frimpong got himself some space with clever footwork inside the box only to blast over the bar.
A reaction from Copenhagen was always likely and they started the second period strongly.
Christopher Jullien and Olivier Ntcham were guilty of failing to clear their lines and the Danes made them pay on 52 minutes.
Falk Jensen slid the ball into N’Doye and he crashed home off the upright to restore parity.
From there home side really began to sense blood, while Celtic were rocked midway through the second half by losing skipper Scott Brown to injury.
Moments before that, Christie’s teasing cross just evaded Edouard at the back post.
Into the final 20 minutes and a fine counter from Celtic ended when Jonny Hayes crossed for Edouard who yet again was foiled by a superb stop from Johnsson.
From a Copenhagen corner on 75 minutes, the ball collided with Christie’s hand and – with VAR in play – the referee made use of the pitchside monitor before awarding a spot-kick.
Jens Stage went low with his right-footed penalty but Fraser Forster got a fingertip on it and the ball came back to safety as the Hoops travelling support breathed a collective sigh of relief.
On the rack somewhat after a dominant first half Celtic closed out the game to take a positive outcome back to Glasgow for next week’s second leg.