ROSENBORG 0 CELTIC 1
CELTIC are just a draw at Parkhead away from qualifying for the Europa League knock-out stages after Scott Sinclair’s headed winner at the Lerkendal stadium tonight.
RB Salzburg took pole position with a 1-0 win over RB Leipzig which means the Germans can now only reach nine points – the same tally as the Hoops are on after a dramatic evening against the Norwegian champions.
Nerve-ends were shredded when Turkish referee Halis Ozkahya signalled there would be FIVE minutes stoppage time.
Thankfully, Brendan Rodgers’ men celebrated their first away triumph in the competition at the 15th attempt to set up a deciding encounter against the Austrians in the east end of Glasgow on December 13. One pint will be enough, but you can be certain the champions will go for a triumph in front of a packed and emotional Parkhead.
It was a night for strong hearts as the Hoops took the lead three minutes from the interval after a mesmerising six-man move was finished off by Sinclair.
Tom Rogic, Filip Benkovic, Callum McGregor, Charlie Christie and Mikael Lustig were involved before the Swedish full-back touched the ball in front of the ever-willing James Forrest.
The on-fire winger swept past a challenge before curling over a delicate right-wing cross to the far post where Sinclair was lurking with intent.
The Englishman rose to the ball with the Norwegian rearguard in total disarray and left keeper Andre Hansen helpless with a header that ripped into the net.
It was always shaping up for a special effort to beat the Rosenborg No.1 who has just been named the top shotstopper in his country.
Earlier, he had twice defied the Hoops who were trying desperately to capitalise on their overwhelming possession.
In the 24th minute, Hansen plunged to his right to make a smart save as Rogic, after being set up by an Odsonne Edouard touch following a ball in from the left by Forrest, attempted to pass the ball into the net.
Hansen got down swiftly to get a hand to the ball and turn it round the post for a corner-kick.
On the half-hour mark, he performed heroics again to thwart Forrest when the Scotland international raced onto a neat through pass from Christie.
He zipped in an angled rive that looked destined for the roof of the net until the alert No.1 threw a glove at the effort to send it soaring over the bar.
Within a minute, he was in action again as he dived to hold a rasping drive from outside the box by Rogic.
There was only one moment of danger for Craig Gordon at the other end in the 25th minute when a right-wing cross was whipped across his goal, but Nicklas Bendtner was too slow to capitalise.
Until that flash of menace. it had been one-way traffic with McGregor and Christie looking composed, Forrest in the mood, Kieran Tierney creating danger every time he galloped forward and Edouard getting into reasonable positions, but failing to get the rewards with some sloppy touches.
It was no surprise when the £10million Frenchman was replaced by Leigh Giffiths in the 66th minute with Cristian Gamboa coming on for Lustig at the same time. Eleven minutes later, Scott Brown made his return with Forrest coming off.
In took Celtic only two minutes to get a shot on target when Sinclair cut in onto his favoured right foot, but his drive was straight into the waiting arms of Hansen.
In the 17th minute, there was a sweet move involving Sinclair and Forrest with the winger back-heeling the ball into Christie’s path 25 yards out. His first-time drive took a touch off a defender and was deflected just wide of the right-hand upright.
Benkovic made a superb interception right at the start of the second-half as he cleared a dangerous left-wing cross from left-back Meling.
Thankfully, Gordon’s goal wasn’t threatened too often and Celtic are 90 minutes away from playing European football in 2019.
TEAM: Gordon; Lustig (sub: Gamboa 66), Boyata, Benkovic, Tierney; McGregor, Rogic, Christie; Forrest (sub: Brown 77), Sinclair; Edouard (sub: Griffiths 66).