Ahead of tomorrow’s Champions League second-leg against FC Midtjylland, we look back to a tough away game in 2016 as Celtic looked to seal Champions League football. Brendan Rodgers’ side traveled to Kazahkstan to face FC Astana in the first leg of the Third Qualifying Round.
Rodgers, in his third game in charge, had to name O’Connell and Ambrose as his central defensive pairing as he struggled with injuries as well as getting new signings in the door (sound familiar?). The home side scored after 19 mins as a corner was met by the head of Yuri Logvinenko. The central defender found himself unmarked and as Craig Gordon took a flap at the ball, Astana went ahead.
It was a tough game for Celtic but they kept themselves in the game even if Dembele and Griffiths found trouble gelling. It was the Scotland striker that came up with goods after Patrick Roberts dispossessed the Astana defender by the corner of their box. Roberts weaved into the box before seeing Griffiths on the edge of the area. The striker, who netted 40 goals the year before, got the ball out of his feet before launching an effort into the back of the net.
It would prove to be a valuable goal to take back to Glasgow for the second-leg as Astana proved to be tough opposition.
Celtic: Gordon; Lustig, Ambrose, O’Connell, Tierney; Roberts, McGregor, Brown, Armstrong;
Subs: Izaguirre, Bitton, Ciftci, Rogic, Janko, Fasan, Forrest.
Griffiths proved his worth that day and if we fast forward five years, the player cuts a much-maligned figure. Sections of the support want rid of him due to his off-field antics, another section want rid due to his lack of fitness and yet a portion still fondly recall his 2015/16 campaign and subsequent form in Rodgers’ first year as a reason to justify his contract extension in light of his poor fitness over the last three seasons.