Nigeria’s Efe Ambrose was on duty for Celtic yesterday to help the Scottish side beat Shakter Karagandy of Kazakhstan on a 3-2 goal aggregate to qualify for the European Champions League
Celtic faced an uphill task in front of their home crowd to overturn a two goal deficit from last week’s encounter.
Shakhter did not appear like they were going to simply their two goal lead as they took the attack to their hosts right from the blast of the whistle but the home boys too seemed prepared for the attack.
Celtic made the first incursion into the Shakter goal area as early as the 6th minute when Lustig’s powerful goal bound header was saved by Aleksander Mokin.
Mokin was tried again in the 14th minute when he had to make a superb stop to deny Anthony Stokes from close range.
The home side were often utterly dominant with Celtic enjoying 63% ball possession during the first half hour of the first half.
Both Celtic and the crowd were subdued throughout the first 45mins of the first half and the game entered injury time before Kris Commons turned a fruitless first half by unleashing a venomous shot from 25 yards to put his side unexpectedly, if deservedly, ahead.
Celtic players started the second half even more pumped up than they had been in the first and this time they got their reward quickly. Only three minutes were on the clock when Georgios Samaras’ close range shot put Celtic level on aggregate with almost the whole of the second half to find the third which, if not responded to at the other end, would take the Glasgow club into the group stage of the competition.
They very nearly got that goal when James Forrest sent over a teasing cross which found Stokes unmarked at the far post. He should have buried it but instead his right foot volley hit the bar. Just how vulnerable Celtic’s position was couldn’t have been more vividly illustrated than in the next two minutes.
Two minutes into injury time and with extra time and possibly penalty shoot outs looming, Forrest, who had been lively but often lacking a finishing flourish, redeemed himself by scoring the winning goal and sending Celtic to the Champions league round of 16 for the second consecutive time.