Saturday 22 October 2016

Boyata strike boosts Celtic's Champions League hopes

Celtic 1 Qarabag 0

Jamie Holland

Published 30/07/2015 | 02:30

Celtic’s Dedryck Boyata scores his side’s winning goal against Qarabag
Celtic’s Dedryck Boyata scores his side’s winning goal against Qarabag
Dedryck Boyata (L) celebrates with team mates after firing Celtic into the lead
Celtic's Nadir Ciftci has a shot on goal during the UEFA Champions League third round qualifier at Celtic Park
Qarabag's Ibrahim Sehic gets the ball cleared ahead of Virgil van Dijk
Celtic's Scott Brown keeps possession under pressure

Celtic's Champions League prospects became a whole lot brighter after Dedryck Boyata's late header gave them a narrow victory over Qarabag at Parkhead.

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The home side put in an insipid, error-strewn first-half performance in the first-leg of the third qualifier to give the Azerbaijan champions plenty of encouragement.

Ronny Deila's men improved after the break but aside from a great save by Qarabag keeper Ibrahim Sehic from a Virgil van Dijk header, they posed little threat until the 82nd minute when the former Manchester City defender, recruited in the summer, headed in a corner from substitute Kris Commons.

The Scottish champions have the goal to defend in the return game in Baku next Wednesday night - and they will be grateful for it - although on the evidence of the first-leg the tie is far from over.

Deila's men had beaten Icelandic part-times Stjarnan 6-1 on aggregate in their previous qualifier but Qarabag delivered on their promise to be a much tougher obstacle until Boyata's late strike finally broke their resistance.

Elsewhere, Rapid Vienna battled back from 2-0 down to earn a 2-2 draw with Ajax despite playing the last 30 minutes with 10 men.

Irish Independent

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