UCL Wrap: Celtic shocked, Ajax advance

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Celtic will miss out on the UEFA Champions League group stages – and that sweet sweet television, sponsorship and ticket revenue – for the second consecutive year.

The Bhoys in Green suffered a stunning 4-3 defeat at home to CFR Cluj, coughing up a second half 3-2 (and 4-3 on aggregate) lead in the process at Celtic Park on Tuesday evening. Coming off a 1-1 draw in Romania, Celtic trailed 1-0 at halftime in Scotland thanks to a header from veteran winger Ciprian Deac.

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However, in a ten minute span in the second half, Celtic appeared to turn around the tie. Neil Lennon’s side were more creative and attacked with more urgency after halftime, and it showed as James Forrest hammered home to tie the match on the night. Then, Celtic striker Odsonne Edouard, who’s dummy lead to the first Celtic goal, finished off a cross from new signing Hatem Abd Elhamed to send the Celtic fans into pure delirium.

Celtic and Cluj then traded goals, with Billel Omrani scoring a penalty kick before Ryan Christie’s 76th minute strike put Celtic ahead again. Unfortunately for Celtic, it was short lived. Omrani scored again in the 80th minute and George Țucudean scored on a breakaway to put Celtic away and help advance the Romanian side to the Play-Off Round.

Here’s a roundup of the rest of the UCL results across Europe.


Ajax outlast PAOK

Two penalty kick goals from Ajax captain Dusan Tadic helped the Champions League semifinalists from a year ago advance to the next round of qualifying.

Tadic scored on either side of halftime, including an 85th minute goal that helped put just enough distance as Ajax won, 3-2 over PAOK, winning 5-4 on aggregate. Diego Biseswar, born in Amsterdam and a one-time member of Ajax’s youth academy, scored a brace, including the opening goal for his side on the road.

After Tadic tied it two minutes before halftime, PAOK pushed for another, but defender Nicolas Tagliafico headed home in the 79th minute and Tadic again extended the lead six minutes later. Biseswar scored in stoppage time to give PAOK some hope, but they ran out of time.

With the win, Ajax advances to face APOEL in the next round.

Tuesday’s UEFA Champions League scores (aggregate scores in parenthesis): 

Qarabag 0-2 APOEL (2-3)
Rosenborg 3-1 Maribor (6-2)
Dynamo Kiev 3-3 Club Brugge (3-4)
FC Copenhagen 1-1 Red Star Belgrade (2-2, Red Star wins 7-6 on penalty kicks)
Ferencvaros 0-4 Dinamo Zagreb (1-5)
LASK 3-1 Basel (5-2)
Olympiakos 2-0 Istanbul Basaksehir (3-0)
FC Porto 2-3 Krasnodar (3-3, Krasnodar advances on away goals)