PARIS – Scottish giants Celtic qualified for the lucrative Champions League group stage on Tuesday despite losing 4-3 to Astana in the second leg of their playoff in Kazakhstan.
Patrick Twumasi scored twice as Astana, beaten 5-0 last week in Glasgow, threatened an incredible comeback before Brendan Rodgers' side secured their place with an 8-4 aggregate victory.
Kristoffer Ajer diverted a Dmitri Shomko shot beyond Craig Gordon as Astana took the lead on 26 minutes, but Scott Sinclair settled Celtic nerves with a superb equaliser.
However, Serikzhan Muzhikov drilled Astana back ahead on the night before Ghanaian striker Twumasi added a brace to leave Celtic rattled and facing a tense final 20 minutes.
Olivier Ntcham ended Astana’s hopes, though, when his deflected strike made it 4-2 before Leigh Griffiths reduced the deficit further in the final minute.
But conceding four goals was a clear indication that Brendan Rodgers’ Celtic need to reinforce their defence, and that will arrive later this week in the shape of South African international centreback Rivaldo Coetzee.
The 20-year-old Bafana Bafana defender will fly to Glasgow to undergo a medical after his local club Ajax Cape Town announced on Monday that they have agreed to a deal with Celtic for Coetzee.
The youngster from Kakamas in the Northern Cape would also require a work permit to complete the move.
AFP, Staff Writer