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Celtic secure Champions League Group Stage Football for the second consecutive season
Well, we've done it. For the second year in a row, the Hoops will be sitting at the top table of European football, rubbing shoulders with the very best and, no doubt, making another trip to the Nou Camp..

In all seriousness, despite a very nervous 25 minute period in the second half of tonight's game in Kazakhstan, Brendan Rodgers' men have done it in tremendous fashion this year. The first round against Linfield may have been a gimme but Rosenborg and Astana are definitely no mugs, and the promise of Champions League football and the riches which come with such a prize, means just as much to them as it does to us. The pressure of these game cannot be underestimated, so to come out of tonight with an 8-4 aggregate win is fantastic, regardless of a slightly below par performance in tonight's second leg.

Even then, if you look at the game on the whole, Celtic have still gone away from home, to a venue where the home side are unbeaten in 14 previous European games, and scored 3 goals, while also controlling it for the entirety of the 1st half (near enough). Throw in the fact we are technically playing in Asia at the same time, and the convincing win over two legs against the Kazakhs is even more impressive.

If any Celtic fan has any complaints tonight, they need only think back to this time approximately 2 years ago. Had this been the Hoops side from then, we'd once again be sitting cursing yet another failure at the final hurdle, looking 'forward' to the prospect of Europa League football. Don't get me wrong, the Europa is not a bad competition at all, and I believe it gets a lot of unfair stick. However, nothing beats the sound of that Champions League theme tune ringing around Celtic...
[​IMG] VS [​IMG]
Forrest (40') McGregor (88')

19th August 2017
Rugby Park
Labrokes Premiership: Round 3

CELTIC continue 100% start to the season with laidback win against Killie

BRENDAN RODGERS' Celtic side are well accustomed to winning games comfortably by now, and today's lunchtime kick off at Rugby Park was no different. The Northern Irishman made a number of changes to the side which thumped Kazakh champions Astana in the midweek Champions League Play-Off 1st leg, but there was absolutely no let up in the intensity as a young Hoops side swept aside yet another domestic opponent with ease.

Both Calvin Miller and Anthony Ralston once again took their place in the starting XI at both full back positions, roles they excelled in just a week or so ago in the hammering of the same opponent in the Betfred Cup. Kristoffer Ajer was also given a chance to impress on his return to the ground where he spent last season on loan, while Kundai Benyu continued his early apprenticeship as a Celtic player on the left wing. It is a sign of the sheer confidence that Rodgers has in his squad that he was able to rest players such as Jozo Simunovic, Leigh Griffiths and Scott Sinclair without so much as a second thought, and on the evidence of this performance, why not?

As is sometimes to be expected when numerous changes are made to a side, the Hoops began the game in a relatively slow fashion. With no recognised striker on the park, it was up to James Forrest once more to operate within a false-9 role, one which he is now becoming pretty adept...
European Masterclass

Celtic 5 - 0 FC Astana

"Celtic have gone through Astana like a blowtorch through butter tonight," Liam McLeod, BBC Radio Scotland

It is nights like last night that make the 'Paradise' nickname feel so apt. Brendan Rodgers and his Celtic side provided the fans with a night or sheer ecstacy, as they demolished Kazakh side Astana 5-0.

Astana are familiar opponents for the Scottish champions, having played them en route to Champions League qualification last summer. Last season's two legged tie was a tight affair, with a draw in Kazakhstan followed by a late 2-1 win at Celtic Park in the return leg.

With injuries in defence, there was much discussion as to who should start beside Simunovic, with Rodgers opting for Nir Bitton. The Israeli is not a natural centre back and had looked shaky in the recent Glasgow derby, when he looked like he had given away a late penalty against Partick Thistle. Rodgers showed faith in the midfielder, which was repaid with a self-assured performance at the back.​

The game was tense in the early stages, with both teams looking for an opening. Early chances fell to Sinclair and Griffiths but both put their attempts wide of the post. Astana passed the ball well but found themselves frustrated trying to breakdown a well drilled Celtic defence.

It wasn't until the 32nd minute that the deadlock was broken. Tom Rogic wove his way through the Astana defence and chipped the ball passed the goalkeeper. The ball looked to be heading wide but the Astana defender poked it in with his foot instead of clearing it, sending the Celtic fans wild.

Just before half time, Sinclair took advantage of a poor back pass from the Astana midfield, surging forward and cooly slotting the ball past the goalkeeper, to double Celtic's lead. Despite some nervous moments, Celtic went in at half...​
Hearts Crushed by rampant Celts

Celtic - 4 (Griffiths 29, 63, Sinclair 51, McGregor 73)
Hearts - 1 (Goncalves 84)

Scottish Premiership,
Celtic Park, Glasgow
Saturday 5th August

There was no European hangover following on from Celtic’s impressive win in Norway during the week as last season’s invincibles put a disjointed Hearts side to the sword. The Edinburgh side parted company with manager Ian Cathro in the previous week and it was up to interim manager Jon Daly to pick up the pieces. It was never going to be an easy task for the Dubliner who was coming up against a side who were clearly buoyed by their European exploits and would be celebrating last season’s glorious domestic campaign with the raising of the Championship flag by captain Scott Brown, on the beginning of his tenth season at the club.

To be fair to Hearts, they did make life difficult for the Scottish champions in the opening half hour, but there was always a sense that it was only a matter of time before the opening goal would arrive for the home side. The goal did arrive on 28 minutes and it was no great surprise who the finisher was. Leigh Griffiths, who rounded off a superb season with the hoops last season with a similarly spectacular display at Hampden for his country in June against England with two stunning free kicks, opened the scoring at Celtic Park after he had been found by a wonderful through ball from centre half Nir Bitton. Celtic’s number 9 seemed to have taken a touch too many, but a brilliant piece of improvisation allowed the hitman to create the opportunity of hitting the ball into an empty net with his right foot. It was a goal that the Bhoys deserved and one which signalled the beginning of a long afternoon for the Jambos.

A familiar sight for Hearts...
Bhoys One Step Closer to Promised Land

Rosenborg – 0 (0)

Celtic – 1 (1) (Forrest 69)

UEFA Champions League Third Round Qualifer, Second Leg

Lerkendal Stadion, Trondheim

Wednesday 2nd August


Celtic moved a step closer to the promised land of Champions League football with what was a professional and encouraging performance from Brendan Rodgers’ men. The tie was finely in the balance after the Norwegians had frustrated last seasons invincibles at Parkhead last week and managed to come away with a scoreless draw. Over the course of the two games they proved to be a rigid side, concentrating mainly on their defensive duties and smothering Celtic’s attacks, but seemed to offer little of note going forward and in truth, Celtic were probably more comfortable than the score line suggested.

Hoops fans were left to sweat over the fitness of key striker Leigh Griffiths over the course of the week but the Scot was declared fit for the game and was named on the bench. James Forrest was faced with the task of leading the line after his impressive display in the 5-0 thrashing of Sunderland at the Stadium of Light at the weekend.

Celtic’s injury woes at the back continued when Erik Sviatchenko went off with what appeared to be a knock to his knee midway through the first half. Nir Bitton replaced him and despite being out of position, looked comfortable throughout and Celtic’s level of dominance failed to wither. The Israeli was calm and composed in the centre of the defence and proved to be effective in his distribution of the ball.

Only three minutes after the introduction of Bitton, the crucial sought after away goal was prevented only by a fantastic finger-tip stop by Hansen in the Rosenborg goal. Tierney had been causing the Norwegians a problem...