CELTIC qualified for the Europa League knock-out stages next year with their historic 2-1 triumph over Lazio in the Olympic Stadium last night.

It was an evening of sheer courage – and no little skill – as Neil Lennon’s Hoops overcame the section favourites for the second time in a fortnight.

At Parkhead, the Italians led with a strike from Manuel Lazzari, but Ryan Christie equalised after the break and Christopher Jullien, with his first goal for the club, headed in an 89th-minute winner.

Olivier Ntcham, a second-half substitute for Christie, left it even later at the Olympic Stadium when he claimed the points-clincher in the fifth minute of stoppage time.

THE MATCHWINNER…Olivier Ntcham celebrates.

Here are some other facts:

* CELTIC have recorded three consecutive victories in the UEFA Cup/Europa League for the first time since November 2002, when they won six in a row in the UEFA Cup.

* CELTIC kicked off Group E with a 1-1 draw with Rennes in France, but followed up with victories over Cluj (2-0) and Lazio (both 2-1).

* JAMES FORREST netted his fourth goal in his last six appearances in all competitions, after scoring only twice in the previous nine games.

* CELTIC won away from home against Italian opposition in European competition for the first time-ever at the 13th attempt.

* THE Hoops now face Rennes at Parkhead on November 28 and Cluj in Romania on December 12.

* WITHIN the top five European leagues, only Bayern Munich’s Polish international Robert Lewandowski, with 21, has scored more goals across all competitions than Lazio’s Ciro Immobile this season. The Italian claimed his 15th strike against the Hoops last night.


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