Date: 22nd August 2017 at 6:42pm
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Celtic moved into the Champions League group stage despite a 4-3 qualifying play-off second-leg defeat at FC Astana.

The Hoops already carried a resounding 5-0 advantage from the opening game, but it was suddenly reduced when Dimitri Shomko’s 26th minute effort was deflected into his own net by Kristoffer Ajer.

However, Scott Sinclair soon curled a superb reply, although Serikzhan Muzhikov and Patrick Twumasi both struck during a two-minute spell early in the second-half.

Twumasi then added his second of the evening to make it 4-6 on aggregate with still around twenty minutes remaining; only for Olivier Ntcham and Leigh Griffiths to subsequently respond during the final ten.

Both James Forrest and Sinclair saw early opportunities for the visitors, until Ajer diverted in Shomko’s attempt with Craig Gordon left wrong-footed; although Sinclair’s reply just seven minutes later was absolute precision.

Keeper Gordon then denied Marin Anicic’s header prior to the interval before suddenly being beaten twice in quick succession immediately following it.

First early substitute Srdan Grahovac’s ball in deflected favourably towards goalscorer Muzhikov, while moments later Twumasi headed in Shomko’s cross.

Kabananga and Griffiths next proceeded to spurn opportunities at either end of the pitch, before Twumasi finished inside the near post to yet again reduce the deficit.

Celtic striker Griffiths had a later free-kick saved by keeper Nenad Eric, while Twumasi was too high when presented with the chance of completing a hat-trick at the opposite end.

However, any hopes of an unlikely comeback were finally ended as Ntcham registered with the aid of an 80th minute deflection, before Griffiths lashed in another right at the death.

FC Astana: Eric, Shitov, Postnikov, Anicic, Shomko, Maevski, Kleinheisler (Grahovac 13), Twumasi, Muzhikov, Tomasov (Beysebekov 46, Tagybergen 81), Kabananga

subs (unused): Shaikhov, Maliy, Mokin, Murtazaev

Goals: Ajer OG (26), Muzhikov (48), Twumasi (49, 69)

Celtic: Gordon, Lustig, Ajer, Bitton, Tierney, Ntcham, Brown, McGregor (Rogic 57), Forrest (Ralston 57), Griffiths, Sinclair (Armstrong 65)

subs (unused): Gamboa, Hayes, de Vries, Miller

Goals: Sinclair (33), Ntcham (80), Griffiths (90)

Ref: P. Kralovec

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