Kazak champions Shakhtyor Karagandy will take a surprise lead to Celtic Park next week with a storming 2-0 victory this evening.
Goals from Andrei Fionchenko in the 12th minute and Sergei Khizickenko thirteen minutes from time saw an electric reaction from fans in the Astana Arena, which can hold in excess of 30,000 supporters.
Celtic failed to capitalize on strong periods of play with futile attempts from debutant Virgil Van Dijk who had a header well saved by Aleksandr Mokin, whilst winger Kris Commons rattled the underside of the cross bar shortly after Shakhtyor’s first goal.
The second half saw Celtic continue to fail to convert their chances, in particular from full-back Charlie Mulgrew before conceding a critical second goal.
Although the whole of Celtic Park will be behind the Scottish champions, The Hoops face an uphill task to qualify for the lucrative group stages this term. Manager Neil Lennon will hope that performances against Cliftonville and Elfsborg in previous rounds will spur his players on to reach the promised land. The second leg takes place next Wednesday.
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