Leigh Griffiths celebrates scoring the crucial third goal for Celtic against Astana. Photo: @ChampionsLeague via Twitter

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.

Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers will be a relieved man after his team advanced despite losing in Kazakhstan. Photo: @ChampionsLeague via Twitter

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