Leigh Griffiths

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Champions League wrap: Celtic, hosts all grab results

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A day after the away sides had strong first legs in the UEFA Champions League’s second qualifying round, the hosts restored a bit of order.

[ MORE: UCL Tuesday wrap ]

Dundalk 1-1 Qarabag

The Azerbaijani side went ahead in the fourth minute through Mahir Madatov, and out-attempted the hosts by 16-10. But club hero Patrick Hoban scored in the 78th minute to give the League of Ireland side a fighting chance against the European group stage regulars.

Celtic 5-0 Nomme Kalju

It took the Bhoys a while to get going, but when they did they flew through their Estonian visitors. Kristoffer Ajer scored in the 36th minute and both Ryan Christie and Leigh Griffiths scored before the end of the first half. Christie added another in the second half, with Callum McGregor finishing the tie with a 77th minute goal.

Elsewhere
BATE Borisov 2-1 Rosenborg
Ferencvaros 3-1 Valletta
Red Star Belgrade 2-0 HJK Helsinki
Maribor 2-1 AIK
CFR Cluj 1-0 Maccabi Tel-Aviv

Europa League wrap: Milan, Arsenal, Celtic, Chelsea win on day of thrills

(AP Photo/Olivier Matthys)
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This was a good day for the Europa League.

Plenty of goals and some wild comebacks dotted the landscape as our Thursday friend truly began its season run.

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]


Marseille 1-2 Eintracht Frankfurt

The Bundesliga visitors collected a very decent result considering their status in one of the tournament’s toughest groups. Conceding in the third minute and going down to 10-men minutes after Lucas Torro leveled the score, the German visitors got an 89th minute winner from Luka Jovic to snare all three points.

Dudelange 0-1 AC Milan

The Luxembourgish hosts made their celebrated hosts work hard for the win, with Gonzalo Higuain finally breaking through for Milan before the hour mark. Credit Samu Castillejo with the assist as Milan dodges a poor start.

Celtic 1-0 Rosenborg

Leigh Griffiths’ 87th minute goal saved Celtic from a sleepy start to this season’s tournament (on a night when their Old Firm rivals got a surprising point in Spain).

Scott Brown started the play, and the goal was a delight.

RB Leipzig 2-3 Red Bull Salzburg

Munas Dabbur and Amadou Haidara scored two minutes apart as the Austrian side surprised its Red Bull brothers in Germany with a 2-0 lead, then overcame throwing it away via a Fredrik Gulbrandsen 89th minute face-saving marker.

Konrad Laimer pulled one back for RBL in the 70th minute, and Danish star Yussuf Poulsen completed the comeback to earn the hosts a point.

And, oh yeah, what a team goal for the winner:

Scoreboard
AEK Larnaca 0-1 Zurich
Ludogorets Razgrad 2-3 Bayer Leverkusen
Akhisarspor 0-1 Krasnodar
Sevilla 5-1 Standard Liege
Dynamo Kiev 2-2 Astana
Rennes 2-1 Jablonec — WATCH: Sarr’s stunner
MOL Vidi 0-2 BATE Borisov
PAOK 0-1 Chelsea — RECAP
Copenhagen 1-1 Zenit Saint-Petersburg
Slavia Prague 1-0 Bordeaux
Dinamo Zagreb 4-1 Fenerbahce
Spartak Trnava 1-0 Anderlecht
Arsenal 4-2 Vorskla Poltava — RECAP
Sporting Lisbon 2-0 Qarabag
Olympiakos 0-0 Real Betis
Rapid Vienna 2-0 Spartak Moscow
Villarreal 2-2 Rangers — REACTION
Lazio 2-1 Apollon Limassol
Besiktas 3-1 Sarpsborg
Genk 2-0 Malmo

Celtic unbeaten in 10 Old Firm Derbies after win at Rangers

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Celtic made it 10-straight Old Firm Derbies unbeaten with a 2-0 win over Rangers on Saturday at the Ibrox Stadium.

Tom Rogic scored after halftime and Leigh Griffiths added an insurance marker in the 65th minute as traveling Celtic moved five points clear of second-place Aberdeen and eight ahead of the fourth-place ‘Gers.

[ MORE: Neymar out | Marcelo, too ]

The two sides will meet three more times, with only two scheduled so far: Dec. 30 at Celtic Park and March 10 back at the Ibrox.

The Bhoys are unbeaten in 46 league matches and handed Rangers twin 5-1 losses last season amongst a 3W-1D mark in the derby, en route to a Scottish Premiership season without a loss for Brendan Rodgers‘ men.

Celtic’s Griffiths tears into Rangers chairman after “gulf” comments

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Celtic star Leigh Griffiths took the Old Firm bait and promptly swallowed the fisherman.

If you missed it, Rangers chairman Dave King said Celtic should’ve been even further ahead of their rivals given the setbacks handed to Rangers, who finally climbed back to the Scottish Premiership this season.

Celtic went unbeaten, drawing just four of 38 matches and finished 39 points ahead of Rangers on the table.

[ MORE: Fabinho has interest in Man Utd ]

If Celtic won all 38, they could’ve finished 47 points clear of Rangers. So, we guess the gulf could be bigger.

Here’s what Griffiths had to say:

“What was the gulf? 30-odd points. How does he expect that to be bigger? They were touting at the start of last season that they were going to win the league and this and that.

Joey Barton was coming up and saying he was going to be the best player in Scotland – he lasted a few months. In the first [Old Firm] game, they got hammered 5-1 and they got hammered 5-1 at the end of the season. So, the gulf couldn’t be any bigger. This season, they’ll be trying to bridge the gap.

“Ultimately it’s about what we do and if we are at our best nobody in Scotland can live with us.”

It was absurd talk from King, who doesn’t need to amp up one of the world’s best rivalries and also doesn’t have a leg to stand on considering the dominant season from the Bhoys. Wow.

Scotland and England draw 2-2 in wild finish

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The World Cup qualifier between Scotland and England finished in a 2-2 draw in a game that featured a stunning final five minutes that saw three goals.

With Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain‘s 70th minute score the only goal through much of a relatively sleepy game, it burst to life in th final minutes. Scotland suddenly went in front thanks to a pair of Leigh Griffiths free-kicks just two minutes apart, the latter finding the back of the net on the stroke of added time. But Scotland couldn’t hold on as Harry Kane would equalize with just seconds remaining to see England salvage a draw.

[ MORE: Saturday’s Transfer Rumor Roundup ]

The draw keeps England’s 26-match qualifying unbeaten streak alive, but it nearly came to an end.

Oxlade-Chamberlain had England looking strong when he produced a brilliant move to skip past Scott Brown, then cut back onto his left to slide by two more defenders before ripping into the back of the net. The goal had been coming for England as they held possession for much of the game and out-shot Scotland 16-8, 9-3 on target.

However, Gordon Strachan’s side would not give in. Scotland earned a pair of free-kicks, and Leigh Griffiths deposited them both past Joe Hart. First, with the ball positioned well outside the box just a tick to the right of central, Griffiths went over the wall and into the top-right corner to level the match in the 87th minute. Then, just three minutes later, with the ball nearly in the same spot, he went to the other side, leaving Hart again grasping at air.

[ MORE: Joe Hart confirms his Manchester City career is likely over ]

With England’s backs suddenly against the wall, they pressed through added time, and Harry Kane produced the goal to salvage a point. An absolutely perfect long-ball from Raheem Sterling met Kane at the back post, and the Spurs front-man deposited it with a simple finish before wheeling away to celebrate.

The draw leaves England atop Group F, three points ahead of Slovenia. The draw is brutal for Scotland, who could have jumped into third with the three points, instead now back in fourth a point behind Slovakia and six behind the group leaders.