Celtic have all but assured their presence in the Champions League group stages this season after an emphatic 5-0 win over FC Astana last night at Celtic Park. Although nothing is a given in this competition, Brendan Rodgers will no doubt be delighted that next week’s trip to Kazhakstan has been made a whole lot easier.
It may prove to be an arduous journey due to the distance involved but due to such a huge margin of victory last night, he can now afford to play some fringe players while keeping his biggest names fresh for Scottish Premiership action that weekend.
Celtic got the breakthrough they needed just after the half hour, a great individual run from Tom Rogic eventually saw an effort towards goal, Astana attempted to keep the ball out but in doing so Evgeni Postnikov could only hook it into his own net.
The Hopps had the advantage but it is fair to say that the goal came against the run of play and Astana showed more attacking endeavour but at the same time failed to test Craig Gordon in the Celtic goal. However three minutes before the break the Kazakh’s would be punished for their profligacy in attack.
Three minutes before the break Scott Sinclair timed his run perfectly from a weighted through ball and latched on to fire home and double the Scottish Champions’ advantage at an almost perfect time and it would be the former Aston Villa man who would wrap up the win after the break.
Again it was another ball that Sinclair latched onto, they may have been a hint of offside in this one but the flag stayed down and Sinclair had enough composure to fire between the legs of Mokin in the Astana goal to make it 3-0 on the night.
Hero off the hour from the previous round James Forrest then bagged goals in successive European matches to extend the advantage to 4-0 while the unfortunately named Igor Shitov would cap off a miserable night for FC Astana as he scored a second own goal of the evening three minutes from time.
An impressive Celtic win against unimpressive opposition but Brendan Rodgers will not care all that much I would imagine and you can forgive him for already thinking about next week’s draw. Surely not even Celtic can muck this one up.