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Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 15 December 2018

Nervy Celtic survive Astana to reach Champions League group stage

Celtic qualify despite losing 4-3 to Astana in the second leg of their play-off in Kazakhstan, advancing 8-4 on aggregate

Celtic’s Scott Sinclair celebrates scoring during the 4-3 defeat to Astana. Shamil Zhumatov / Reuters
Celtic’s Scott Sinclair celebrates scoring during the 4-3 defeat to Astana. Shamil Zhumatov / Reuters

Celtic qualified for the lucrative Uefa Champions League group stage on Tuesday despite losing 4-3 to Astana in the second leg of their play-off 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 double 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.