Uefa Champions League

Leigh Griffiths puts struggling Celtic in Uefa Champions League driving seat after grabbing late Astana draw

Scottish striker levels 12 minutes from time to give struggling Scottish champions a 1-1 draw at Astana in their third qualifying round first leg clash

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 28 July, 2016, 9:49am
UPDATED : Thursday, 28 July, 2016, 9:08pm

Leigh Griffiths levelled 12 minutes from time to give struggling Celtic a 1-1 draw at Astana in their Champions League third qualifying round first leg clash on Wednesday.

The result gave Brendan Rodgers’s side the upper hand ahead of their return clash in Glasgow next week, but the Kazakh side were unfortunate not to have finished with the advantage.

Astana hit the woodwork twice while Celtic goalkeeper Craig Gordon pulled off a number of fine saves.

Yuri Logvinenko headed Astana in front in the 19th minute when the defender was first to a corner.

But Scottish striker Griffiths equalised after 78 minutes with a shot from the edge of the box to give his team hope of making the play-off round.

Before Celtic levelled, the Kazakh champions saw Azat Nurgaliyev hit the crossbar while Junior Kabananga had also seen a shot come back off the post.

“A huge amount of credit goes to the players,” Rodgers told the BBC.

“I think we were all written off before the game. But we are not getting too carried away. We’ve got another game against a very good side.”

Ajax held as Shakhtar ease to Uefa Champions League qualifying win

Griffiths’s goal was Celtic’s only strike on target while Astana had seven attempts.

The result came after a second qualifying round which had seen the Scottish champions beat Gibraltar’s part-timers Lincoln Red Imps 3-0 but only after embarrassingly losing the first leg 1-0.

Monaco’s goalkeeping woes continued as the French side fell 2-1 at Fenerbahce with Italian keeper Morgan De Sanctis forced off injured after 13 minutes.

Already without number one goalkeeper Danijel Subasic through injury, 18-year-old Loic Badiashile stepped in between the posts in Turkey.

Jose Mourinho targets Alex Ferguson’s Champions League trophies at United

The hosts took the lead in Istanbul after Nigerian striker Emmanuel Emenike got the first of his two goals on 39 minutes. But Radamel Falcao got Monaco back into the tie three minutes later.

Monaco dominated the start of the second period, but it was Emenike who doubled the hosts advantage on 61 minutes when against the run of play he picked up a volley and coolly shrugged off three Monaco defenders.

The return legs take place on August 2-3.