Celtic fightback flattens Shakhter
Wednesday, August 28, 2013
Celtic FC 3-0 FC Shakhter Karagandy (agg: 3-2)
James Forrest's late strike completed a memorable comeback by the Scottish champions after goals by Kris Commons and Giorgos Samaras.
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Celtic FC produced a famous comeback as they overturned a 2-0 first-leg deficit to earn a place in the UEFA Champions League group stage for the eighth time thanks to a 3-0 home victory against FC Shakhter Karagandy.
Neil Lennon's side levelled the aggregate scores with goals either side of half-time from Kris Commons and Giorgos Samaras before, in a dramatic finish, James Forrest hit the decisive third two minutes into added time.
Celtic had triumphed in these circumstances before – three of the four times they had returned home previously with a 2-0 first-leg deficit in Europe – and this proved another such night, even if Viktor Kumykov's men survived the Scottish champions' initial onslaught which began in the fifth minute with a Mikael Lustig header that Aleksandr Mokin flicked onto the roof of the net.
Anthony Stokes then rounded Mokin but his cutback from the byline was met by an orange shirt. However, Celtic kept coming, with Mokin called into action again to stop a Forrest shot and turn away a Stokes header.
Having weathered the storm, Shakhter had a glimmer of an opening themselves as Sergei Khizhnichenko found space in the box only to see Lustig block his shot. Just as it seemed the team from Kazakhstan would get to the interval goalless Commons struck in spectacular fashion, taking the ball off Samaras's toes and arrowing a left-foot shot into the top corner from 30 metres. Samaras himself made it two in the third minute of the second half when Lustig's misdirected effort landed at his feet and he drove a shot high into the roof of the net.
Stokes then volleyed against the crossbar from close range but Shakhter gave Celtic some anxious moments also. Nikola Vasiljević had a header cleared off the line by Adam Matthews before Khizhnichenko flicked a long throw on to the crossbar with Fraser Forster beaten once more. It was Celtic's night, though, and in added time Stokes waltzed past three defenders and crossed low to Forrest who buried his shot high into the net.