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Hoops get lucky again

Celtic took control of their Champions League destiny with a 1-1 draw away to Maribor last night.

After all the controversy over their third round qualifier against Legia Warsaw, Ronny Deila's side face the Slovenian champions at Parkhead knowing that any win or a 0-0 draw will take them into the group stages.

The Hoops got off to the perfect start with a sixth minute strike from Callum McGregor but Maribor hit back eight minutes later when Damjan Bohar equalised.

Celtic had the better chances to win the match but after the humiliating defeats against Legia Warsaw the Hoops will be delighted to have the chance to reach the group stages for the third season running in front of a full house at Parkhead on Tuesday.

Deila made two changes to the side that beat Dundee United 6-1 at the weekend with Kris Commons and Efe Ambrose dropping out to make way for Beram Kayal and Mikael Lustig.

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The absence of Commons was a bold move but after the horror showings against Legia Warsaw it was understandable why Kayal's defensive qualities were preferred.

The Hoops got off to the perfect start and once again it was McGregor on the scoresheet, adding to his goals away to KR Reykjavik and Legia Warsaw in the previous rounds.

Jo Inge Berget appeared to have lost his chance when he raced onto a lofted pass from Stefan Johansen but when goalkeeper Jasmin Handanovic parried his shot it fell perfectly for McGregor who netted from eight yards out.

Just like in Warsaw, Celtic's lead was short-lived with Maribor equalising in the 14th minute through Bohar. A through ball from Zeljko Filipovic between Jason Denayer and Mikael Lustig set up Bohar who shot past Craig Gordon from 15 yards out.

It was end-to-end stuff with Charlie Mulgrew coming within inches of restoring Celtic's lead in the 20th minute. A deep corner from Johansen was met by the head of the Hoops skipper but Filipovic headed the ball off the line.

On the half hour there was a bizarre incident when Virgil van Dijk got his head to a wicked inswinging Anthony Stokes corner but after beating Handanovic his effort was blocked on the line by Johansen with the linesman flagging for offside.

Celtic were looking comfortable and playing with purpose while Maribor were content to sit back and attempt to play on the counter-attack.

Maribor's main threat came from long-range efforts with Gordon looking alert to push away a 25-yard shot from Agim Ibraimi four minutes from the interval.

The home side started the second half in a much more offensive manner but were finding it difficult to test Gordon despite some shaky defending in front of the former Sunderland keeper.

On the hour mark Celtic had claims for a penalty turned away when a header from Stokes struck the arm of Aleksander Rajcevic but the Czech referee waved play on. Three minutes later Stokes sent a low 18-yard drive across the face of the Maribor goal as Celtic pushed for a second goal.


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