Celtic thrash Astana in one-sided Champions League playoff
Celtic 5 - 0 Astana

Celtic thrash Astana in one-sided Champions League playoff

16/08/2017

Celtic put one foot into the Champions League group stages with a 5-0 thumping of Astana in the first leg of their playoff at Parkhead.

Returning midfielder Tom Rogic's strike in the 31st minute was helped into his own net by defender Evgeni Postnikov before Scott Sinclair added a second three minutes before the interval.

The former Manchester City and Aston Villa player notched his second on the hour mark with further goals from winger James Forrest and striker Leigh Griffiths -- his might have taken a deflection off Igor Shitov -- for a result which in no way flattered Brendan Rodgers' men.

Celtic knocked Astana out in the third qualifying round last season 3-2 on aggregate and only a remarkable turnaround next Tuesday will prevent a repeat.

Celtic were boosted when Griffiths declared himself free of an ongoing calf complaint and Rogic came back into the midfield, while midfielder Nir Bitton was again asked to play centre-back.

Astana arrived on a run of eight consecutive league wins which saw them top their league after 23 matches, and their boss Stanimir Stoilov had confidently predicted that his side would make it into the group stages.

However, after 90 minutes that looked like a ridiculous boast.

It was hardly a whirlwind start by Celtic but Sinclair miscued his shot from 10 yards in the fourth minute and Griffiths then headed a Forrest cross past the post with only goalkeeper Aleksandr Mokin to beat.

However, the Scottish champions kept passing and probing, and Rogic transformed the game with a driving run into the Astana box before knocking the ball past Mokin from eight yards, with Postnikov succeeding only in helping the ball into his own net.

Whether the Australia international's shot was going in was a moot point to the ecstatic home supporters who, however, held their breath moments later when Postnikov planted a free header wide.

Celtic increased the pressure as the interval approached and Sinclair took advantage of a break of the ball to race through on goal and drive past Mokin and in at the far post.

The second half was as open and stretched as the first with both sides going for the next goal which would have a massive effect on their respective chances in the return game.

It was the home side who got the third when, with Rogic and Yuri Logvinenko on the ground following a clash of heads, Griffiths slipped in Sinclair and he sped through to drill his shot through the legs of the hapless Mokin.

A groggy Rogic was replaced by Callum McGregor and Logvinenko by Abzal Beysebekov.

Griffiths had missed the target from close range, with what for him was a good chance, as the visitors struggled to cope with the energy and pace of the Scottish treble winners.

But Rodgers' side kept up their pursuit of a fourth and it came in the 79th minute when midfielder Olivier Ntcham set up Forrest to score on the angle, before he was replaced by Stuart Armstrong, set to sign a new deal before the weekend.

With two minutes remaining Griffiths made it 5-0 with a low deflected drive to surely secure Champions League football again and the fans lapped up the final minutes.

Related news

Jurgen Klopp hints Mohamed Salah likely to miss World Cup

Jurgen Klopp hints Mohamed Salah likely to miss World Cup

Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp believes Mo Salah is likely to miss the World Cup after leaving the Champions League final injured in the first half.

Real Madrid hero Gareth Bale fuels Premier League speculation

Real Madrid hero Gareth Bale fuels Premier League speculation

Gareth Bale said he wants to be playing every week -- which "has not happened this season" -- after leading Real Madrid to the Champions League trophy in Saturday's 3-1 win over Liverpool.

Cristiano Ronaldo hints at Real Madrid exit

Cristiano Ronaldo hints at Real Madrid exit

Cristiano Ronaldo cast doubt over his future with Real Madrid after they won the Champions League for the third consecutive season on Saturday in a 3-1 win over Liverpool.

Bale stunner and Karius howlers give Real historic hat-trick

Bale stunner and Karius howlers give Real historic hat-trick

Real Madrid beat Liverpool 3-1 to win the Champions League for a third successive season thanks to a spectacular two-goal substitute appearance from Gareth Bale and a performance to forget for Loris Karius.

Record-setting Liverpool see off Roma to book Champions League final spot

Record-setting Liverpool see off Roma to book Champions League final spot

Liverpool set up a repeat of their 1981 meeting against Real Madrid despite a first Champions League defeat of the season at the Stadio Olimpico.

Real Madrid hold off Bayern Munich to reach third straight Champions League final

Real Madrid hold off Bayern Munich to reach third straight Champions League final

Two goals from Karim Benzema helped Real Madrid advance to their third straight Champions League final 4-3 on aggregate after a scintillating 2-2 draw with Bayern Munich in the second leg of their last-four clash on Tuesday.

Real Madrid beat Bayern Munich with Marco Asensio winner

Real Madrid beat Bayern Munich with Marco Asensio winner

Real Madrid will be firm favourites to reach another Champions League final after winning 2-1 away to Bayern Munich in the first leg of their semifinal.

Liverpool score five but late goals give Roma glimmer of hope

Liverpool score five but late goals give Roma glimmer of hope

Liverpool scored five but conceded two late goals as Roma gave themselves a glimmer of hope in a 5-2 defeat at Anfield after the home side had swept into a huge lead.

Liverpool face Roma in semis, holders Real drawn against Bayern

Liverpool face Roma in semis, holders Real drawn against Bayern

Liverpool will face Roma in the semifinals of the Champions League later this month as they continue their attempt to win it for the first time since 2005.

RELATED NEWS

Jurgen Klopp hints Mohamed Salah likely to miss World Cup
Real Madrid 3 - 1 Liverpool

Jurgen Klopp hints Mohamed Salah likely to miss World Cup

Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp believes Mo Salah is likely to miss the World Cup after leaving the Champions League final injured in the first half.

Real Madrid hero Gareth Bale fuels Premier League speculation
Real Madrid 3 - 1 Liverpool

Real Madrid hero Gareth Bale fuels Premier League speculation

Gareth Bale said he wants to be playing every week -- which "has not happened this season" -- after leading Real Madrid to the Champions League trophy in Saturday's 3-1 win over Liverpool.

Cristiano Ronaldo hints at Real Madrid exit
Real Madrid 3 - 1 Liverpool

Cristiano Ronaldo hints at Real Madrid exit

Cristiano Ronaldo cast doubt over his future with Real Madrid after they won the Champions League for the third consecutive season on Saturday in a 3-1 win over Liverpool.

Bale stunner and Karius howlers give Real historic hat-trick
Real Madrid 3 - 1 Liverpool

Bale stunner and Karius howlers give Real historic hat-trick

Real Madrid beat Liverpool 3-1 to win the Champions League for a third successive season thanks to a spectacular two-goal substitute appearance from Gareth Bale and a performance to forget for Loris Karius.

Record-setting Liverpool see off Roma to book Champions League final spot
Roma 4 - 2 (6-7) Liverpool

Record-setting Liverpool see off Roma to book Champions League final spot

Liverpool set up a repeat of their 1981 meeting against Real Madrid despite a first Champions League defeat of the season at the Stadio Olimpico.

Real Madrid hold off Bayern Munich to reach third straight Champions League final
Real Madrid 2 - 2 (4-3) Bayern Munich

Real Madrid hold off Bayern Munich to reach third straight Champions League final

Two goals from Karim Benzema helped Real Madrid advance to their third straight Champions League final 4-3 on aggregate after a scintillating 2-2 draw with Bayern Munich in the second leg of their last-four clash on Tuesday.

Real Madrid beat Bayern Munich with Marco Asensio winner
Bayern Munich 1 - 2 Real Madrid

Real Madrid beat Bayern Munich with Marco Asensio winner

Real Madrid will be firm favourites to reach another Champions League final after winning 2-1 away to Bayern Munich in the first leg of their semifinal.

Liverpool score five but late goals give Roma glimmer of hope
Liverpool 5 - 2 Roma

Liverpool score five but late goals give Roma glimmer of hope

Liverpool scored five but conceded two late goals as Roma gave themselves a glimmer of hope in a 5-2 defeat at Anfield after the home side had swept into a huge lead.

Liverpool face Roma in semis, holders Real drawn against Bayern
Champions League Draw

Liverpool face Roma in semis, holders Real drawn against Bayern

Liverpool will face Roma in the semifinals of the Champions League later this month as they continue their attempt to win it for the first time since 2005.

DERBY OF THE WEEK
France v Croatia
Derby of the week
17:00
15/07/2018
Derby of the week
W 1.95    
   W 4.75
The odds are correct at the time of publishing
12-07-2018 10:30 and are subject to change
Football Live Scores
Tennis Live Scores