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Shakhter stun Celtic for famous play-off victory

FC Shakhter Karagandy 2-0 Celtic FC
Shakhter are on the brink of becoming the first Kazakh club to reach the group stage after goals from Andrei Finonchenko and Sergei Khizhnichenko.

Shakhter stun Celtic for famous play-off victory
Shakhter stun Celtic for famous play-off victory ©UEFA.com

Andrei Finonchenko and Sergei Khizhnichenko scored as FC Shakhter Karagandy defeated Celtic FC and moved to within 90 minutes of becoming the first Kazakh club to qualify for the UEFA Champions League group stage.

Shakhter captain Finonchenko punished the visitors' failure to deal with a long throw 12 minutes into this play-off first leg. Celtic, who famously beat FC Barcelona en route to reaching the round of 16 last term, hit the woodwork before the break and created openings in the second half, but Khizhnichenko's 77th-minute header leaves them with it all to do in Glasgow next Wednesday.

Shakhter had actually started nervously, looking particularly vulnerable as Celtic forced a flurry of early corners. Virgil van Dijk almost profited from the first after challenging goalkeeper Aleksandr Mokin to the ball.

It was some surprise, then, when the Scottish side conceded their first goal in this season's competition, Shakhter striking from a set piece of their own. Gediminas Vičius hurled a throw into the heart of the Celtic penalty area which centre-back Nikola Vasiljević flicked on. Finonchenko, stealing in front of marker Joe Ledley, forced the ball past Fraser Forster.

Neil Lennon's team immediately went in search of an equaliser, which they were close to registering eight minutes later when Kris Commons rattled the underside of the crossbar with a long-range shot. Giorgos Samaras then flicked an angled free-kick from Charlie Mulgrew narrowly wide.

If that latter attempt was a decent opportunity for the Hoops, then the adventurous Emilio Izaguirre fashioned an even better one for himself seven minutes after the restart. Having beaten Aleksandar Simčević to Commons' diagonal pass, the left-back cut inside on to his weaker right foot but then sliced a shot over the crossbar when well placed.

With Vičius's long throws in their arsenal, Shakhter always posed a threat and, after Celtic had survived two of the midfielder's monstrous deliveries, Khizhnichenko forced Forster into a low save from one of Viktor Kumykov's side's best moves of the second half. 

Back came Celtic, however, and a sprawling Mokin block, from James Forrest's header, preserved Shakhter's advantage. It proved to be a pivotal moment for Khizhnichenko doubled Shakhter's lead four minutes later, heading in Vičius's driven effort after his initial shot had been blocked by Steven Mouyokolo to give his side a two-goal cushion to take to Celtic Park.  

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