• Tavares strikes at Celtic FC to take NK Maribor through to group stage
• Goalless draw would have been enough for Celtic after they drew in Slovenia
• Maribor held off early onslaught and clung on in closing minutes
• Slovenian champions are in group stage for first time in 15 years
• Celtic go into UEFA Europa League group stage draw on Friday
A second-half goal by captain Tavares gave Maribor a 1-0 play-off second leg victory and 2-1 aggregate success over Celtic to book their place in the UEFA Champions League group stage for only the second time. The home side had looked the likelier to go through on away goals until Tavares pounced on a loose ball to give the Slovenian title holders a priceless away win.
Maribor were fortunate not to concede as early as the fifth minute when Marko Šuler stuck out a boot to divert Jo Inge Berget's cross just past his own post. However, having survived the predicted early onslaught, the visitors started to create chances at the other end, aided by some wasteful possession in the Celtic midfield. Agim Ibraimi tried his luck from distance before the Macedonian played in Tavares only for his effort to be blocked by Efe Ambrose.
Encouraged by the growing anxiety among the home crowd, Mitja Viler stepped inside Ambrose to force a smart stop from Craig Gordon. The Celtic keeper was quickly on his feet to smother the loose ball, denying Jean-Philippe Mendy a simple tap-in.
Celtic manager Ronny Deila replaced Beram Kayal with Kris Commons at half-time and the change certainly upped the tempo from the Scottish champions. Clever footwork from Anthony Stokes inside the box allowed the forward to cut the ball back for the onrushing Callum McGregor whose attempt crashed back off the crossbar.
Maribor were still dangerous on the counterattack and Gordon had to be at his best again on 66 minutes, repelling Dare Vršič's powerful strike. However, the keeper was left helpless 15 minutes from time when his defenders could not clear their lines, allowing Tavares to lift the ball in and, though Virgil van Dijk had a golden chance to force extra time, that proved enough to send Ante Šimundža's team into Thursday's draw.
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