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Celtic return to Europe’s elite with 3-0 Shakhtar victory

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Celtic reached the group stages of the UEFA Champions League thanks to a late goal from James Forrest securing a 3-0 win on the night for Neil Lennon’s men.

With Celtic 2-0 down from the first leg, they needed to score three goals without reply to progress and they duly delivered as Kris Commons gave Celtic the lead in first half injury time, Georgios Samaras equalled the score on aggregate just minutes into the second half and Forrest sunk Shakhtar with a goal in the 92nd minute to book Celtic’s place in Europe’s elite club cup competition for the second successive season.

That goal sparked wild celebrations from both the players and the fans, with manager Neil Lennon sprinting down the touchline to celebrate with his players.

Celtic started the game in a frantic piece, looking for that early goal to kick-start their comeback and Shakhtar had their keeper Mokin to thank after only five minutes as he denied Mikael Lustig with a superb save, after the Swede headed a pin point cross from Commons goal bound.

Five minutes later and Irish striker Anthony Stokes latched onto a great ball from Commons but despite rounding the keeper, his path to goal was blocked by Vasiljevic as the defender knocked the Celtic striker’s shot out for a corner. From the resulting corner, Forrest could only watch as his shot was tipped over the bar by Mokin.

Mokin was Shakhtar’s saviour once more as he denied first Stokes and then a free kick from Commons in quick succession.

Despite their dominance, Celtic were still shaky at the back. Just before the half hour mark Finonchenko sent a free-kick to the back post where Vasiljevic rose to head back across the face of goal only for Aldin Dzidic to head over.

Minutes before half time and Shakhtar threatened once again as they broke forward, but Lustig managed to block a shot from striker Sergei Khizhnichenko.

With the half time whistle seconds away, Celtic took a deserved lead through Kris Commons. With Samaras running parallel to the Shakhtar goal and failing to find a way through, Commons nicked the ball off the toe of the Greek striker before unleashing a powerful strike from outside the box, leaving Mokin with no chance at stopping it.

That goal gave Celtic fresh hope in that they could turn the tie around and minutes into the second half they brought the scores level on aggregate through Samaras.

The visitors failed to clear a Celtic corner properly as the ball fell to Lustig, whose drive from outside the box fell to Samaras who lifted the ball over the Shakhtar keeper from ten yards out.

Celtic continued to press forward-looking for that all important third goal and they came inches to scoring once more as Stokes hit a perfect cross from Forrest on the volley from ten yards out only to see it hit the crossbar.

But with Celtic looking most likely to score, Shakhtar nearly stole a goal thanks to some nervous defending at the back for Celtic. First Adam Matthews had to clear Dzidic header off the line as Fraser Forster failed to properly clear the ball with a weak punch out, then from a Gedinimas Vicius’ long throw, Khizhnichenko’s flick on from six yards hit the crossbar.

As the game looked as though it would go into extra time, Stokes drove through the Shakhtar defence and pulled the ball back nicely for Forrest to fire home a dramatic winner and one that secured Celtic’s place with Europe’s elite once more.

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About Author

scotzine

Andy Muirhead is the Editor of Scotzine and the Scottish Football fanzine FITBA. He is the Scottish Football columnist for The Morning Star and has written for a number of other publications including ESPN, Huffington Post UK, BT Life's a Pitch and has had his work featured in the Daily Record, The Scotsman and the Daily Mail.

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