Theres so many teams these days playing in europe that every time celtic play these qualifiers we come up against virtually unheard of teams,that’s not to say these aren’t decent opponents ,and the team from Azerbaijan Qarabag will be a very stiff test for Ronnie Deila and Celtic……
In 56 European matches theve won 21 drawn 15 and lost 20 so that’s not a bad return in all competitions,even though there not a every day name to us all we have to respect them,coming to parkhead in the first leg next Wednesday 29th July the celtic team will have to produce a display in front of the home crowd to ease a bit of the nerves for the long journey to Azerbaijan,the last thing we want is to be chasing the game in an unknown enviroment ,Celtic got off to a nervy start last night in Iceland and that early scare couldn’t have been pleasant for the hoops on a plastic pitch,but nir bitons headed equalizer settled the bhoys and we went on to win comfortably winning 4-1 on the night and 6-1 on aggregate,stjarnan were a class below us and it showed,however I don’t think we will have that luxury next midweek and the 2 legs look like they will be tough..
It was nice to see Charlie mulgrew score a fine goal and the player is hopefully back to his best,also the return of Mikel lustig is a bonus …and you could see how much the gaffer values him because he subbed him on 52 mins after a decent run out ..nursing him back to full fitness is a must and he’s certainly a player I admire in the hooped jersey,Nir Biton hasnt stopped running since last season and he turned in another fine display with a goal to boot,the kids class just oozes from every pore and its going to be another Midfield masterclass from the Israeli this season …
Qarabag are already raving about the parkhead atmosphere and how it is an honour to be playing their nxt week,all european nights are special no matter the opposition it just seems to ignite when there’s a euro night at the stadium,im sure the experience will be a pleasant one for our opponents ,but were wanting to win and sentiment will be out the window,id love a 3-0 scoreline to take away as the 2-0 won against stjarnan could have been risky,it’s a tough one to call especially when there unknown to us ,the squad ronnies been building is still taking shape but if were at our best we should get a positive result ..
potentially we could be looking at upwards of 15 games in Europe which will generate good revenue for the club ,negotiating these hurdles to the champions league gives us another 6 games plus the 3 from qualifying,that’s 9,a third place at worst in the group stages sees us into the Europa league which is another 6 games ,the money we can generate will stand us in good stead for seasons to come ,it’s just good to see the season up and running ………….at last the footys back HH
Stjarnan 1-4 Celtic all the goals
Celtic v Rennes
25th July 2015
Kick Off 15:00
Official Match Report
UEFA Champions League second qualifying round
(Bitton 33, Mulgrew 49, Griffiths 88, Johansen 90+3)
CELTIC survived an early scare to cruise to a 4-1 victory over FC Stjarnan in Iceland and book their place in the UEFA Champions League third qualifying round, triumphing 6-1 on aggregate.Olafur Karl Finsen stunned the Hoops by opening the scoring for the home side in the seventh minute. It was a goal that came completely against the run of play, but the Hoops steadied themselves and levelled the match through Nir Bitton’s header.The away side took the lead on the night shortly after the break when Charlie Mulrgew rifled home from Scott Brown’s pass, effectively ending the tie as a contest.And they inflicted further punishment in the closing stages as Leigh Griffiths finished off a flowing move and Stefan Johansen swept home from Gary Mackay-Steven’s cutback.
In the end, it was comprehensive win for Ronny Deila’s side, who will now square up to Qarabag FK from Azerbaijan for a place in the play-offs Mackay-Steven Virgil van Dijk were restored to the Celtic starting XI as the manager made two changes to the team that defeated the Icelandic outfit last week in Glasgow.The winger, who missed the corresponding fixture after picking up an injury in the warm-up, came into the team at the expense of James Forrest, while van Dijk replaced Emilio Izaguirre, with Mulgew moving to left back. In the spartan surroundings of the Samsung Stadium, the Hoops immediately took the initiative against the home side, controlling possession and pushing for the crucial opening goal.
Finding some promising situations down the flanks, the Scottish champions earned several early corners and free-kicks in dangerous positions but failed to test goalkeeper Gunnar Nielsen until Mulgrew took aim from a set-piece from 30 yards. His connection was sweet but the Stjarnan shot-stopper was equal to the shot.And with seven minutes on the clock, the hosts shocked Celtic by making the breakthrough. Following a swift breakaway down the left, Jeppe Hansen picked out Finsen, who cut inside and fired calmly beyond Craig Gordon.That goal provided further fuel for the Icelandic side in their defensive duties as the Hoops resumed the offensive with renewed vigour.Bitton fired wide from distance, before Stuart Armstrong lofted a ball in for Nadir Ciftci, who showed good strength to hold off his marker but he couldn’t keep his final effort down.
Celtic were bossing proceedings but were finding it difficult to break through the wall of blue shirts. However, gradually, Stjarnan’s busy backline started to creak.Mulgrew’s free-kick found Johansen in space and his shot entered a ruck of players in the six-yard box. Dedryck Boyata bundled the ball home but his celebrations were cut short by the offside flag.As the crosses continued to fly into the Stjarnan box, the Hoops came close again just before the half-hour mark, when Mulgrew’s low corner was almost forced over the line by Bitton and then Ciftci.Eventually, the home side’s resistance was broken from yet another Celtic corner. Johansen delivered the set-piece from the left and Bitton rose highest to bullet home a header, much to joy and relief of the travelling support.
Ronny Deila’s men went quickly in search of a second goal and they came within inches of achieving that objective as Armstrong’s instinctive shot trundled past the far post after diligent work from Mikael Lustig and Mackay-Steven.Apart from a well-worked free-kick which Daniel Laxdal volleyed wide, it was all Celtic as the interval approached, with Ciftci trying his luck from the edge of the box and Bitton’s clean strike forcing Nielsen into a smart save.Making a purposeful start to the second period, the Scottish champions only took four minutes to complete the turnaround. A slick passing move saw the ball being moved out to the left by Scott Brown. Mulgrew took a touch, steadied himself and then lashed an unstoppable shot into the far corner.
The visitors continued to probe for further reward, with Johansen particularly prominent, frequently finding dangerous pockets of space in front of the Stjarnan back four and attempting to pick out the runs of Ciftci, Armstrong and Mackay-Steven.At the other end, Boyata had to make a timely intervention to deny substitute Veigar Gunnarsson a sight of goal, but the introduction of Leigh Griffiths for the Hoops provided further attacking impetus for the Bhoys.Fresh from scoring a hat-trick against Eibar at the weekend, the striker looked full of verve and he only took a matter of moments to link up with Ciftci and flick a shot wide. He then tested Nielsen after collecting Johansen’s pass and driving towards the box.Bitton thought he had grabbed his second of the evening as he swept home Mulgrew’s free-kick, but the offside flag again came to Stjarnan’s rescue.
Gordon was finally called into meaningful action midway through the second half, saving from Finsen and then reacting quickly to thwart the chance for the rebound.But it was his opposite number who was considerably busier, and Nielsen prevented Mackay-Steven adding a third as he blocked the winger’s powerful drive after he had raced in on goal.The former Motherwell keeper was beaten again, however, as the clock ticked down after the Bhoys cut open the hosts with a wonderfully-worked goal.And there was still time for Johansen to compound Stjarnan’s misery as he applied the finish from Mackay-Steven’s low centre to seal the win and keep Celtic’s quest for the group phase alive.
CELTIC (4-2-3-1) Gordon; Lustig (Ambrose 52), Boyata, van Dijk, Mulgrew; Brown, Bitton; Mackay-Steven, Johansen, Armstrong (Griffiths 62); Ciftci (Rogic 82)
Not Used: Bailly, Izaguirre, Stokes, Forrest
FC STJARNAN (4-3-3) Nielsen; Aegisson, D. Laxdal, Gudjonsson, Arnason; Runarsson (Gunnarsson 58) Praest, Punyed, Bjorgvinsson, Hansen (Barddal 81) Finsen
Not Used: Johannesson, J. Laxdal, Ottesen Palsson, Knutsson, Bjornsson