Leigh Griffiths scored on his first Celtic begin up since December as Neil Lennon’s males hammered Nomme Kalju within the principle leg of their Champions League 2d qualifying spherical tie.
The striker whipped home a gleaming free-kick to get dominant Celtic’s 1/Three draw on the stroke of half-time.
Kristoffer Ajer and Ryan Christie – from the penalty location – had assign the Scots 2-zero up and Christie and Callum McGregor done the scoring after the fracture to render next week’s return leg in Estonia effectively moot.
Celtic are now poised to face either Israeli facet Maccabi Tel-Aviv or Cluj of Romania, with the latter earning a 1-zero home purchase on Wednesday.
‘Griffiths delivers closing comeback’
If the night changed into all about Celtic constructing a mountainous lead and securing their passage into the next qualifying spherical, then the sub-region changed into all about Griffiths.
No home begin up in a aggressive sport since final September. No draw in a aggressive sport since final November. The striker has had his mental health to favor care of and amid the arrangement he needed to suffer some grotesque moments of murky speculation in one amongst world soccer’s capital cities for murky speculation.
Griffiths has spoken in regards to the difficulties of listening to the gossip and the lies, nonetheless against the completely outclassed Estonians he delivered the closing comeback. Celtic were cruising by then. After near forty minutes of softening up Kalju, they duly beat them up within the closing moments of the hole half.
Christie’s free-kick changed into nutted home by Ajer by the underside of Pavel Londak’s crossbar. Celtic lost Boli Bolingoli via illness straight after; Mikey Johnston came on and conducted with verve. Absolutely we will look more of him this season than final.
Six minutes later, Celtic went two forward, the influential Christie winning a penalty when Aleksandr Kulinits caught out an arm to extinguish his starting up. Christie lashed the penalty past Londak. Such changed into the ferocity of the strike, three Londaks can also no longer possess stopped it.
The share-de-resistance changed into coming, though. With time nearly up on the head of the half, Griffiths lined up his 2d free-kick of the night. The main one came off the defensive wall and fell to Scott Brown whose point-blank shot changed into blocked by Londak, nonetheless this time the head consequence would be altogether assorted.
Griffiths’ execution changed into lethal. Over the wall it soared and down it descended into the head factual-hand corner. Londak flailed as any goalkeeper would possess flailed. The striker ran away to possess an even time and sank to his knees. Or no longer it is early days, nonetheless if this moment marks the return of Griffiths as a striker of substance then what terrific news for Celtic – and Scotland.
He changed into replaced early within the 2d half, leaving to a standing ovation. Celtic can also possess been extra forward by then, Kalju’s draw being peppered non-extinguish. A fourth arrived merely after the hour trace, Christie curling a left-footed pearler past Londak’s attain.
Christopher Jullien, the £7m centre-half, started on the bench and on the bench he remained. Lennon suggested that he’s no longer rather as a lot as the velocity of things merely yet, no longer that he changed into wished. You manufacture no longer bring on a defender while you receive yourself working over the head of your opponents, every person amongst your assaults promising dreams.
Lennon brought on Olivier Ntcham for Christie. Christie obtained the appreciation he deserved, the Frenchman obtained the lukewarm reception he deserved. If the leisure, given some of Ntcham’s comments about looking for to pass golf equipment, he obtained off evenly. Celtic’s supporters were potentially too cheery to give him any longer stick. Soon, they’d be cheerier aloof.
The fifth changed into rattled in by McGregor, an emphatic thump that flew into the get. Game over. Tie over. In this marathon qualifying course of nights treasure this are a relief. They are able to favor it to hand in Estonia next week sooner than the astronomical stuff begins all over again the week after.
‘Christie have to be on Premier League radar’ – prognosis
Oldschool Celtic defender John Hughes on Sportsound
I felt Ryan Christie changed into man-of-the-match, as he changed into final week. He’s making up for lost time after his horrendous ruin. He won Brendan Rodgers over final one year and he has with out a doubt won Neil Lennon over. He’s one amongst the principle names on the team-sheet now. He have to be on the radar of astronomical English Premier League golf equipment with these roughly shows.
Oldschool Celtic goalkeeper Pat Bonner on Sportsound
The next two rounds are significant. Or no longer it is near the mentality, no longer ability, holding their heads and never letting the rigidity regain to them. We now possess seen it sooner than in Europe when we demand a performance and then they regain nervy. If Neil Lennon can take care of that, I contemplate they’re in a factual region.